Before I start telling you about this awesome pizza that I made, let me first apologize for the poor quality of the single photo that I have of it! I took the photo just after I took it out of the oven and as it was past sunset, I didn’t have any natural light so had to only rely on the lighting in the kitchen. Boo!
Anyway. This post will have one main point and that is to face your food fears. We all have fears of a certain kind of food, don’t we? Who really wants to eat gizzards or hearts or livers or even kidneys? Oh yes, I watched rabbit kidneys being served up last night on MasterChef Australia *shudder*. And who wants to eat eyes or brains? I certainly don’t.
One of my food fears of a more common food is anchovies. The first time I was exposed to anchovies was during a school trip to Europe. We were in Spain and for dinner one evening, we were served a dish that included anchovies. I don’t remember this dish at all; I don’t remember if they were whole or not. All I knew is that I was not going to eat it. I shuddered when I saw someone else eating it!
Fast forwarding many years later brings up to almost the current date in time. Obviously I’ve became very interested in food of all kinds recently. I love reading about food, I love reading all kinds of recipes and most of all, I love eating. You won’t find me eating hearts or kidneys or eyes or brains, but I have faced my fear of anchovies, finally.
It started with this dish, the spaghetti puttanesca. That dish really blew me away. Since then, I have used anchovies 3 more times (yes, I’m counting!). I used anchovies in a variation of this spaghetti and mushroom dish, and I used anchovies in a pasta dish that I didn’t blog about for some reason or another (I can’t remember!). These dishes were just me getting used to the taste of anchovies, how they cook and how they behave (so to speak) with other food. In the above dishes, I cooked anchovy fillets until they disintegrated into a sauce, so I was not confronted with the look of a whole fillet. The thin, little bony bits remained, but at least I didn’t have to look at the actual anchovy. The flavor they gave to the sauces was really amazing, and it lent something to the dishes I hadn’t ever tasted before. I was intrigued.
Last week at the grocery store, I saw a beautiful pre-made handmade thin pizza crust in a vacuum-sealed bag. I picked it up, thinking about what sort of pizza I could make with it. I turned the bag over and it listed some recommendations for toppings. Among them was one called “la napoletana”, and it included whole anchovy fillets along with capers, oregano and mozzarella. Yikes, was it time to go full-on with whole anchovy fillets? Yes, it was.
I was really looking forward to trying this pizza. Let me say, I don’t need to list amounts here, you know how it is with pizzas – add as much or as little as you want! I started out by pre-baking the crust for 3 minutes at 230C so it would be crispy. I took it back out of the oven and spread a thin layer of plain tomato puree (store-bought in a tin). I sprinkled capers on top here and there, then laid out thinly sliced circles of mozzarella. In between the mozzarella circles, I placed whole anchovy fillets, then a small scattering of our own homegrown oregano from our garden. To top it off, I drizzled a small amount of olive oil on top. Back into the oven for 6 minutes.
After I took it out of the oven, I scattered the rest of the oregano I had picked on top, but I immediately wish I hadn’t have done this – the pizza must have been too hot and turned some parts of the fresh oregano black! You can see this in the photo below. Next time, I’ll wait until just before I eat it to scatter on the fresh herbs.
I couldn’t wait for this pizza to cool off a little so I could finally try a whole anchovy fillet for the first time ever. I admit, I was reluctant, but I was too curious to let this stop me.
First bite down, and wow. This tasted amazing! The salty anchovy taste was foremost, followed by bursts from the capers. The rest of the flavors were more subtle compared to the anchovies and capers, but they all blended in really well to make for a sensational experience. Now, the texture of the anchovies was a little bit of a problem for me; they were sort of mushy and I thought it was a weird texture to have on a pizza.
However, I ate 4 slices! And my husband happily gobbled up the other 4.
I was very pleased with myself for facing my fear of anchovies, and I was rewarded with a great pizza, one like I’ve never tasted before.
I implore you to face your food fears too and try something you have never tried before. You truly might not know what you’re missing! If you try it and don’t like it, well, at least you were brave enough to finally find out for sure, right? Food is one of the most important things in our lives, so you shouldn’t be scared of it!
What foods are you scared to try?