I Protest "National Pizza with the Works Except Anchovies Day"

Awkwardly named, misguided holiday falls on November 12

November 4th, 2019 12:00 PM

Scotch Woodcock, photo David Hammond

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By David Hammond

"National Pizza with the Works Except Anchovies Day" falls on November 12.

I protest.

Granted, according to a 2016 Harris Poll, anchovies were, indeed, the "least liked" of all pizza toppings.

Not everyone loves anchovies, of course, though I believe many more would if they simply decided to give the little fish a chance.

Some might say anchovies taste too "fishy," but to say a fish tastes too much like fish is a claim that must be dismissed on grounds that it's simply absurd. If someone were to say that a steak was too beefy or that shrimp was too shrimp-y, your eyes would never stop rolling. Same should go for saying that a fish is too fishy.

I wonder, though, how many people who turn up their noses at anchovies have ever actually tasted an anchovy. I strongly suspect that many anchovy haters base that strong opinion on second-hand information.

Anchovies, of course, have a lot going for them besides taste. Anchovies are high in omega-3 fatty acids and protein, and they support heart health and good cholesterol. They also appeal to the eco-conscious in that they're sustainable, in part, because they're usually caught with a net and almost never farmed.

Plus, anchovies are believed to be an aphrodisiac, so there's that.

In October, I was chatting on WGN radio with host Dane Neal, Steve Dolinsky (ABC's Hungry Hound and author of the recent "Pizza City, USA")and Louisa Chu ("Chicago Tribune" and the Chewing podcast). After the broadcast – which you can listen here -- I asked Dolinsky what he thought of anchovies on pizza. He said he liked them for the "umami flavor they bring to the pie."

I totally agree with the Hungry Hound, and that's why we recently ordered an anchovy-only pizza from La Bella Pasteria, which gets very favorable mention in Dolinsky's book: he names La Bella as the source for one of the Top 5 Thin Crust Pizzas in the suburbs. We ate almost the whole large anchovy-only pie in one sitting.

And if anchovy pizza is not to your taste, try Scotch Woodcock, which is simply bread smeared with anchovy paste, lightly scrambled egg…and more anchovies. I like anchovies. At the Oxford and Cambridge Club in London, Scotch Woodcock is served as a savory dessert, and it's just anchovy paste on bread, a lightly scrambled egg, and more anchovies.

Last week I was interviewing James Beard award-winning Chef Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia, and I mentioned anchovies. Mantuano confessed he loves them and that he's even enjoyed the "subtle flavor" of fried anchovy SKELETONS, the tiny bones of this delicious fish, fried. That is some hardcore anchovy love.

And with that anchovy-only pizza and Scotch Woodcock, I protest "National Pizza with Works Except Anchovies Day" and all anti-anchovy sentiment. I'm not saying you should order pizza the way we did, or have anchovies for dessert, but I implore you to give anchovies a chance to make you happy. I believe they will.

Now I need to find a place that serves fried anchovy skeletons.


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