Choose your own topping
This week tickets went on sale for next year’s Glastonbury and promptly sold out even quicker than ever before. The result of all this incredible ticket buying enthusiasm was our complete failure to acquire any for the first time in six years. And the result of that is finding myself in a seriously bad mood for most of this week as we tried to consider alternatives of what we can do for the summer next year instead.
As you may remember from this year’s festival, one of the regular treats of any Glastonbury is the pizza, specifically the rocket pizza on offer at our favourite food stall. So, I thought, as we’re not going to get the opportunity to have the real “make me one with everything” pizza topping experience, then I’d just have to make my own. And if I got to take out my frustration on a malleable ball of stretchy dough.
Meanwhile, a couple of weeks ago when I was cooking with rabbit, I ordered the rabbit from my usual source for the more unusual meats I often end up cooking on here. Given that you have to pay for shipping anyway, I figured it wouldn’t make sense to order just a rabbit, so I added some other meats to the order, meat that could just live happily in the freezer until called on to do its duty. One of those meats, after the success of using it before, was crocodile. So, now, when trying to think of what else could go on my pizza, my mind returned to crocodile.
At the end of the day a pizza is just a form of bread and, as a result, you can use most things as a topping (I guess you don’t really even need tomato or cheese if you don’t really want them, in fact there’s so few elements that are required for a pizza that it’s hard to see what actually defines one). Of course you can see where this is going, a crocodile pizza!
We already know the sorts of things that crocodile goes with, sweet fruit and spicy chilli, so I wanted to utilise this knowledge but use the crocodile in a different format to before. So, while I waited for my pizza dough to prove and grow in size, I decided to chop up my crocodile steaks and marinade them with chilli, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic.
Having done this, I then turned my thoughts to what could go with my crocodile topping. Crocodile pizza on its own isn’t odd enough, I wanted a creative combination. Remembering the excellent effect that the taste and texture of a sweet mango had given my crocodile skewers, this was something that I wanted to replicate on the pizza. I’ve never really understood the appeal of the “Hawaiian” pizza, the one that comes with ham and pineapple, although that’s partly because ham and pineapple isn’t a combination I like very much at the best of times and, on a pizza, it’s usually cheap versions of both. That’s not to say that the idea that the sorts of meat and fruit combinations that work elsewhere can work on a pizza doesn’t appeal.
Then Professor Plum pointed this recipe out to me. It’s a peach and balsamic pizza. Peach on a pizza? I’d never considered it, but baking peaches or having them in salads is something that definitely works, so why shouldn’t it here? In the end, as I stretched out my pizza dough and made a sauce from tomatoes, garlic, onions and herbs, I settled on a topping that consisted of mozzarella, my marinated diced crocodile, bacon, peaches, rocket and a balsamic reduction.
I fried the crocodile briefly to brown it a little and then added it with the other toppings, bar the rocket and balsamic, to the pizzas I popped them in the oven and invited some fellow Glasto failures around to drown our sorrows in wine and exotic pizza. These special guests have previously appeared in these pages and go by the pseudonyms of Reverend Green and Captain Brown (in the Lounge) and had tasted my crocodile skewers before, so I was interested to see their opinion on this latest tetrapod tastiness.
As the pizza baked, discussion turned to our other options for next summer, which can be summarised as follows:
– Wait for returned tickets to go on sale in the spring and get some then
– Get a job working for Oxfam at the festival
– Move to the village of Pilton and get the tickets offered to locals
– Form a band that makes it big between now and the summer, ensuring that they get booked to play
– Start dating Alexa Chung/Kate Moss/Cara Delevingne/whatever celebrity is sure to manage to get tickets without having to go through the normal process
Given that none of these, including the first one, seem all that likely, it might have to be a case of watching from home and going to a different festival. At least we can hope for one with pizza.
It’s going to be a little while before I can get completely over the crushing disappointment of ticket purchase failure, but you can’t really stay totally mad when there’s good pizza on offer. And this was good pizza. I have to admit that I was a little concerned that all the disparate elements might not come together into something that worked as a whole, but it was a thoroughly pleasant experience. Reverend Green and Captain Brown appeared suitably impressed, and presumably now think we mostly dine on monstrous reptiles round here. All in all a successful evening, even if the morning was a little less so.
Professor Plum in the Dining Room: It wasn’t quite as nice as barbequed crocodile (and it definitely wasn’t as nice as getting Glasto tickets would have been) but it was still tasty, and there’s nothing quite as comfort-foody as homemade pizza. Also, halfway through making it Colonel Mustard turned to me and said “We do eat some weird stuff, don’t we?” which is the first time he’s acknowledged that.