I would like to propose a vote of confidence for the humble anchovy.
Now I can hear you already going ‘yuck’, ‘ptthth’ and ‘erk’ over your oatmeal, but really people – a little fishy salt never hurt anyone, and it can add so much oomph to all sorts of things.
Bland pasta becomes a zingy little tongue tap dance when accompanied by olives, tomato sauce and anchovies. Despite its name – pasta a la puttanesca, meaning pasta of the whore– it really is a tasty and most ladylike treat.
I can make you a fabulous dip called bagna cauda – another little Italian treat meaning hot bath, which uses a truck load of garlic, oil and mashed anchovies. Rather than your bathing in it, you lovingly bathe bread in it and it is simply divine. And I’m telling you, you wouldn’t even know that the little anchovy is even there.
My darling mother used to make me sardine and anchovy sandwiches, although I will admit I was quite grateful that these were consumed in-house, and did not make the trek with me to school, there to sit in my suitcase or locker in greater than refrigerator temperature until lunchtime.
So it is always with wry humor when I call to order a chicken and bacon stuffed pizza from Papa Murphys. They know me up there by now, whether it’s by my accent (which, by the way, they find adorable), or by my added topping order I am yet to divine.
You know the deal with added toppings, right? Extra cheese – and you get a handful of the stuff. Extra mushrooms, and several mushrooms are sliced and added in your honor. Ask for anchovies, and there is a slightly startled pause, always followed by a bewildered search for the correct button to push on the cash register. I just laugh and tell them to look for the ‘nuclear waste’ section which naturally, goes right over the head of my helper.
No anchovies are added to the pizza at all. Rather, you get the entire can, carefully sealed in plastic wrap just in case the little buggers try to escape, at the fantastic price of $1. I suspect the pizza constructor actually dons a chemical waste suit, coupled with shoulder length fire-proof, acid-proof, radioactive chemical resistant gloves, just to get the can off the shelf so it can be added to the order.
Sir, naturally, is totally appalled that I should sully my half of the pizza with anchovies, and it was with a laugh as I watched him, at our Little Hot Tamale’s insistence, that he assembled the extra topping on our take and bake pie. He was trying to use kitchen tongs to get them out of the can – a little like using a jackhammer to mash potatoes. No part of the contents of that can was going to desecrate his petal soft skin, let me tell you.
Now if I was trying to add sugar and chocolate to the pizza that would be another thing entirely.
Annie Dear lives in Lee’s Summit. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.