Pissaladière: A Play

Niçois Onion Tart Theater Proudly Presents the debut performance of

PISSALADIERE

(or, “Fear of a Jarred Anchovy”)

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Starring:

Anchovy

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Billy, The Anchovy Hater

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Jacques, The Friendly Frenchman

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PLUS: Special Guests!

Please take your seat. The performance will begin after the jump.

SCENE ONE:

ANCHOVY ALL ALONE

[Anchovy sits at the edge of the stage.]

Anchovy: Awww, gee, nobody likes me. My life is the pits. I wish I were a marshmallow or something lovable. I’m just a salty briny anchovy without a leg to stand on.

[Enter Jacques.]

Jacques: Bonjour Monsieur Anchovy!

Anchovy: Bonjour, Monsieur Jacques.

Jacques: What is wrong with you today, uh? Why the sour face?

Anchovy: Nobody loves me Jacques. And more importantly no one wants to eat me.

Jacques: Nonsense! I want to eat you.

Anchovy: That’s nice, but you’re French. Americans think I’m gross.

Jacques: Why do you think this?

Anchovy: I dunno. But whenever Americans order a pizza in the movies they say, “Hold the anchovies!”

Jacques: I see. Now I understand why you are sad. Come with me, we will find an American who will like you. I guarantee!

[Jacques leads Anchovy off.]

SCENE TWO:

AN AMERICAN IN PARIS

Billy sits on a bench outside the Eiffel Tower.

Billy: Boy I’ve been traveling around Paris for too long now. I’m sick of this dump. I wish I were somewhere real like Las Vegas. Instead I’m stuck here eating this junky food. Where can I get a hot dog?

[Enter Jacques and Anchovy.]

Jacques: Bonjour, Monsieur, parlais vous anglais?

Billy: Whatever.

Jacques: Ah, yes, “whatever.” You think you are tough, yes? A tough American?

Billy: Get out of my face, Frenchy.

Jacques: If you are really a tough American, you will eat my friend here: Monsieur Anchovy.

Anchovy: Awww, gee, nice to meet you mister.

Billy: Dude, that’s a talking fish! I ain’t eating that!

Anchovy: See, I told you Americans don’t like me.

Jacques: Hmmm. I must come up with a plan.

Billy: Dude, get out of the light, you’re blocking my rays.

Jacques: Come with me, anchovy! And call your family, tell them to come to my kitchen!

[Jacques and Anchovy exit. Paris Hilton enters.]

Billy: Dude, Paris sucks.

Paris Hilton: Whatever!

SCENE THREE:

JACQUES’ KITCHEN

Jacques opens his new cookbook, “Saveur Cooks Authentic French.”

Jacques: I may be French, but I still need a cookbook!

He opens to a recipe for Pissaladière.

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Jacques: Ah! C’est magnifique!

Following its instructions, he prepares the dough. He dissolves 1 7-gram packet active dry yeast in 1 cup warm water.

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He lets it stand for 5 minutes then adds 1/4 cup olive oil. He combines flour and salt in a medium bowl and adds the yeast mixture and stirs with a wooden spoon, adding a bit more water if necessary, until ingredients are well mixed.

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He kneads the dough with a dough hook (though he could do it by hand) for about 3 minutes: until dough is smooth, firm and elastic.

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He forms the dough into a ball, places it in a lightly oiled medium bowl and covers with a damp cloth. He uses a cloth from his old gym:

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Jacques: No more exercise for me! Wahahaha.

He allows the dough to rise in a warm spot for about 1 hour.

Jacques: Now for ze topping!

He peels and thinly slices 2 1/2 to 3 lbs yellow onions.

Jacques: Zis makes me cry.

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He heats 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil in a large pan over medium-low heat. He adds onions and seasons generously with salt and pepper. He adds bouquet garni but realizes he only has thyme so he ties the thyme up…

Jacques: Ties ze thyme up. Say zis 10 times fast!

…and adds to the pan…

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which he covers to let the onions slowly simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 45 minutes, he uncovers and continues cooking until the moisture has evaporated and the onions have cooked down to a very tender marmalade-like consistency, 30-40 minutes. He discards the thyme.

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Now he checks his dough, which has doubled in size.

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He places a pizza stone in the oven and preheats it to 450.

He rolls dough out on a floured surface into a thin, flat rectangle.

Jacques: A thin flat rectangle will not fit on my stone!

Fine, then just roll it out so it will fit.

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He transfers the dough to a baker’s peel that’s dusted with cornmeal.

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He covers dough with a damp cloth and allows to rest for 30 minutes.

30 minutes later, Anchovy and his family enter.

Anchovy: We’re here!

Jacques: Ah, Monsieur Anchovy! Welcome!

Anchovy: Aww thanks Jacques. I brought the whole gang.

Anchovy Family: Heya Jacques!

Jacques: Hallo! Sit right down. Make yourselves comfortable.

Jacques removes a tube of anchovy paste.

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Anchovy: Gee, Jacques, what’s that?

Jacques: This is a tube with the remains of your ancestors ground up inside with vinegar and oil.

Anchovy: Aww, gee, that’s terrific.

Jacques spreads the anchovy paste on the risen rolled-out dough.

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Anchovy: Golly, that sure smells good. Smells like me!

Next, Jacques takes a departure from the Saveur book and adds an ingredient from Martha Stewart’s baking book.

Martha: It’s a good thing.

He slices a plum tomato in half, scoops out the seeds and cuts into strips which he places on top of the paste.

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Jacques: Ok, Anchovy, tell your family it’s time.

Anchovy: C’mon guys…here we go!

Jacques places the onion mixture on top of the tomatoes. He scatters Anchovy and Anchovy’s Family along with Nicoise olives across the top.

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Jacques: Into ze oven you go.

Anchovy: Wee! I hope that angry American likes me after this. Will it burn?

Jacques: Yes! But you will love it.

Jacques places the dough on the hot pizza stone and bakes for 15-20 minutes.

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He removes it from the oven and studies it.

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Jacques: Well, Anchovy, how do you feel?

Anchovy is silent.

EPILOGUE

Billy sits on the same bench outside the Eiffel Tower.

Billy: Why am I still sitting on this bench? And was that Paris Hilton?

Jacques enters with the Pissaladière.

Billy: Dude, I am not eating that.

Jacques: Give it a chance, Monsieur American. Look, I cut you a neat slice!

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Billy: Dude, I wouldn’t eat that for all the money in the world. Not even for…

Jacques produces an airline ticket to Las Vegas.

Billy: Vegas?! You’ll send me to Vegas if I take a bite? Awesome.

Billy bites in and suddenly his eyes well with tears.

Billy: It’s… it’s…

Jacques: Magnifique?

Billy: Hot! It’s hot! Owww, my mouth my mouth my mouth.

Billy runs off fanning his face and Jacques finishes the rest of the slice.

Jacques: Ah, Monsieur Anchovy. To Vegas we go!

He pats his stomach and leaves for the airport.

END PLAY

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