Anchovies, most of which are 10-12 centimeters long, have a disproportionately large mouth relative to their body, reaching up to their ear flaps. They have very small teeth on their upper and lower jaws, with the lower jaw being shorter than the upper jaw. The number and position of their fins are similar to sardines, but anchovies have a slender, cylindrical body. Their shiny scales resemble silver stars. While alive, their backs are green, but once out of the water, they turn bluish-green, and as they dry, their backs take on a bluish hue closer to the shore. Their sides and cheeks are shiny like silver, and their undersides are white. Their side and ventral fins are transparent. Their tail fins, which are tan in color, are also finely forked.

Anchovies start migrating from the Black Sea to the Bosphorus towards the end of November, and this migration continues until the end of March. In March-April, they start laying eggs in the Marmara Sea and return to the Black Sea in May. Anchovies are caught with special nets. Anchovies, like sardines, can be salted. They can only be eaten after being salted for six months.

Anchovies are rich in vitamins A and D, which are fat-soluble. Anchovy meat contains high levels of sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iodine, and phosphorus.

Because calcium and magnesium, minerals found in anchovies, play a significant role in the development of bones and teeth, it is essential for babies and children to eat anchovies.

Anchovies are the most preferred food nowadays due to their beneficial effects on heart health, such as lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, thanks to the omega-3 fatty acids they contain. Anchovies reduce bad cholesterol, regulate blood pressure, and prevent irregular heart rhythms. Additionally, they prevent blood clotting on the vessel walls, thin the blood, and are beneficial for migraines and depression.

Anchovies have a positive effect on preventing lung diseases. Beneficial for osteoporosis, anchovies increase serotonin hormone levels, relax nerves, and reduce the risk of stroke.

Anchovies are also highly beneficial for the skin. They should be consumed for nail, hair, and skin health.

During the day, they swim at depths of 30–40 meters, and at night, they swim close to the surface. They reach maturity at the age of one and lay approximately 40,000 eggs in waters with a temperature of 18 °C-20 °C, at depths of 25–60 meters, and in slightly salty waters. Their lifespan is about 4 years.

Although consumed in all regions of Turkey, anchovies are predominantly consumed in the Black Sea region, where they are an essential part of the culture and cuisine. A sign at the door of a restaurant in the Black Sea region saying “We have anchovies; fish also available” is the best evidence that anchovies are not considered fish in this region. For them, anchovies are a superior entity. Anchovies have not only influenced the culinary culture but also the general culture of the people in the Black Sea region. Anchovies have become legendary on the coasts of this land. There is no dish without anchovies, from soup to steamed, from fritters to stuffed, from dessert to dolma, from rice to meatballs. The following verses have been written for anchovies:

“Our place is Trabzon/Our hands cannot hold the hook/If anchovy were not plentiful/Our situation would be different” …

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