Photo: Salt & Fat blog
The most disdained of pizza toppings, the anchovy, already down, was kicked by Assemblyman Curt Hagman (R-Pepperoni) (I mean, R-Chino Hills) in a “Point of View” column on the Bulletin’s Opinion page last week. Under the print headline “Why Californians dislike Legislature,” Hagman began: “The California state Legislature is about as popular as anchovies and airport pat-downs.”
Suddenly, contrary to Hagman’s intentions, I felt sympathetic to the Legislature. Not because of the airport security comparison, obviously, but because of the anchovy comparison.
I’ve always liked the anchovy. My dad likes them, my mom detests them. If we got anchovies on half (or a mere quarter) of a pizza, I would have a slice or two from that side. It was a mild form of living on the edge, not to mention a chance to be kind to my kindly father.
In our family, we also had a Thanksgiving-Christmas stuffing tradition: with oysters, or without. Pitting brother against brother, much like the Civil War, the choice made for a twice-annual, tongue-in-cheek debate, a kind of “Which Side Are You On?” at the dining room table. I didn’t care much but would always try a little oyster stuffing along with, wishy-washily, the regular kind. One exotic ingredient made a bland side dish a little dangerous. It was like “The Girl With Something Extra” as played out on my plate. (Not the ESP part, just the “something extra” part.)
As an adult, my default pizza setting is plain cheese, and my favorite toppings are probably sausage and mushroom, but I’ll get anchovies now and then. A lot of pizza places, especially chains, don’t even have anchovies, and sometimes the mom and pop places are out, because they never restocked after the last time someone ordered them, during one of the Bush presidencies.
I always like a Caesar salad made the traditional way, with at least one real anchovy fillet, but those are even rarer than anchovy pizzas.
I considered inviting Hagman out for an anchovy pizza, although I don’t know if anywhere in Chino Hills serves them, or if he would eat them.
Let’s hear from you. Forget the Legislature. What do you make of the humble anchovy?
P.S. If David Foster Wallace can write an essay collection titled “Consider the Lobster,” I can title a blog post “Consider the Anchovy.”