Here in Australia, we’ve just had an election for our national parliament. Despite my best efforts – one vote in each of the two assemblies – it became clear yesterday that the incumbent conservative government has been returned, albeit with a very small majority.
The actual voting took place two Saturdays ago, following a campaign which was protracted, by Australian standards, and which aroused a low-level of enthusiasm, both generally and in our home. However, Maggie and I decided that we would follow the count on television, maintaining our energy-and-tolerance-levels with a smorgasbord of pizzas.
The photos show the pizzas just before they went in the oven. Commencing from the top left, we made four different pizzas: passata topped with seared calamari, basil pesto and prosciutto; (plenty of) passata topped with poached chicken, basil pesto, black olives, anchovies and wilted onion (think, chicken cacciatore); a ‘margherita’ style with chopped basil, bocconcini and prosciutto over passata; and a mere smear of passata topped with roasted pumpkin, shredded sage, bocconcini and some of the wilted onion.
The result of this election-night pizza run-off? The calamari candidate suffered from the absence of its usual running mate – pieces of prawn – and was exposed as being one-dimensional; it came in last. The ‘chicken cacciatore’ was like one of those wannabes that sound good but lack the ability to punch through with verve and flavour; nice enough, but it deserved no better than third.
The modified ‘margherita’ was the pre-election favourite; a reliable and solid performer, with a good balance of simplicity and palate-appeal. However, it was overwhelmed by a late swing to the roast pumpkin, a novice pizza party candidate but one blessed with a popular past-a heritage.
So, a happy result and one of the few highlights of the election count. When the result was confirmed a few days later, the roast pumpkin team returned for a victory lap, substituting ricotta for the bocconcini and adding some thin slices of garlic to the wilted onion.
(For the wilted onion, Maggie takes a purple/red onion, halves it lengthways and cuts thin slices, which are tossed and steeped with olive oil, salt and pepper. Then we cook them in a pan (skillet) over moderate heat – say, midway between sauteing and frying – for about 5 minutes.)