Michelangelo was a genius in many ways, but I must admit I have struggled to come to terms with his second law: “no anchovies, dude” (it is to Michelangelo the mutant ninja turtle that I refer, not to be confused with Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, the sculptor, painter, architect, and poet).
He was referring, of course, to pizza (the first law being “never pay full price for late pizza”) and for years I have tried to find sense in this. I love anchovies, and I find it hard to believe that a sophisticated and fun loving reptilian oriental assassin such as Michelangelo did not. So what did he mean?
It may of course have been a reverse homage to the supreme pizza ingredient, pepperoni sausage, and an ackowledgment that adding any other source of protein when you might have pepperoni would be a grievous error, but why not say that directly? And why pick out anchovies? Why would Michelangelo’s laws stay silent on the numerous other deranged and inappropriate ingredients being used on pizzas, from onions (never, never) to frankfurter sausaes, merguez or kebab, or even leafy salads? Or was his opposition to the delicious anchovy founded on his concerns about the possible pairing issues for which anchovies are famous? Was it that he had been lead to believe that your only realistic pairing was a mediterranean white or rosé?
I suppose we will never know the answer, but my preferred interpretation is that what he meant was that we shouldn’t misuse anchovies by letting them roast in a sea of cheese, but that rather we should enjoy them as nature intended, preferably with a nice glass of chilled manzanilla, like this lovely Manzanilla Zuleta.