The Cameron Clan Sunday Pizza – A Short History

 

March 1989 – The Cameron Clan Sunday Pizza is Born:

In an effort to perhaps ease the work required in feeding three young, hungry and ever-growing boys, Mother invents The Cameron Clan Sunday Pizza. The Recipe is simple at first, involving those ingredients considered sacrosanct to most young children under the age of ten: tomato sauce, tinned spaghetti, tinned pineapple chunks, luncheon meat, and cheese. Preparation is fairly basic: the tomato sauce is smothered over three frozen pizza bases, one cut in half to aid in the placement of the pizzas on the oven tray (invariably one side would squeeze up on the side of the oven; this extra crunchy piece was long considered a delicacy, and hard-fought for over the dinner table). Spaghetti was roughly chopped in the tin using a dinner knife, then evenly spread over the tomato sauce. The round slices of luncheon meat were cut into segments then placed on the pizza, with the pineapple chunks, (after draining the juice and drinking as a pre-dinner apéritif) following the same pattern. Finally, a 1 kg block of cheese was grated, then spread on top of the pizza. The pizza was placed in a hot oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cheese had properly formed a ‘crust’.

The Three Boys thoroughly enjoyed both the preparation and eating of the pizza, but perhaps the greatest joy of The Cameron Clan Sunday Pizza was the intrinsic value it held on the School Swap-Lunch Market. At the opening bell of the Monday Market frequent scenes of mass trading involving the left over pizza were the norm, providing the boys with almost unparalleled options at the Market. There were often rumours of inside trading occurring Fridays; promises made for first pick options on the pizza come Monday, but as nothing substantial was ever proved, The Three Boys control of the Monday Market remained firmly in their grasp. It was a reign that was to last mostly unchallenged for five long years. 

February 1990 – The Great Bacon Massacre:

In a much-anticipated move on the School Swap-Lunch Market, a significant change was made to The Recipe for The Cameron Clan Sunday Pizza. Luncheon meat was out, bacon was in. It was a bold move, one which almost ended in total disaster.

It was well-known by The Three Boys of Mother’s almost insatiable appetite for pork crackling; it was not anticipated however that this would cross over to bacon. This problem was at first avoided by using the bacon in the same manner as the luncheon meat; sliced raw, then placed on the pizza to be cooked in the oven. Citing difficulty with picking up the ‘essence’ of the bacon flavour itself, it was unanimously decided that the bacon should be cooked off first in a pan before being added to the pizza. In hindsight it is perhaps easy to say that Mother’s vocal approval of this technique should have been some kind of warning to The Three Boys. However a late start to the pizza preparation resulting in added hunger clouded their judgement, and this, coupled with their own trust in Mother, resulted in perhaps the blackest day of The Cameron Clan Sunday Pizza.

The usual preparation began; pizza bases were taken out of the freezer, the oven was turned on, and the cheese was grated. The bacon was diced up, rinds removed, then placed in a hot pan. However, in what was later described as a rather underhand move, Mother declared only she could cook the bacon, before noting that MacGyver was about to begin. Having seen the previews all week (ants invade; MacGyver must use only his Swiss army knife and common sense to save the day) The Three Boys eagerly trooped off to the lounge room. Upon their return ten minutes later, the bacon had been massacred. 

The pan was still smoking; little bits of bacon stuck to the bottom. Mother’s hand and face were greasy and wet. She protested her innocence, mouth muffled still by crispy bacon bits yet to be swallowed. Apart from what was left in the pan, no bacon remained. 

Left with no choice, The Three Boys continued on with the pizza, but at an Extraordinary General Meeting that night it was agreed that an amendment needed to be made to the Pizza Preparation Protocol: from now on, at all times, one of The Three Boys was to be in attendance while the cooking of the bacon was undertaken. In May ’91, July ’92, and April ’93, serious attempts were made by Mother to breach the protocol, and in February 1994, a substantial amount of crispy bacon bits were consumed by Mother before The Three Boys could step in and salvage what was left.

During Monday Market trading the following day after The Bacon Massacre, The Three Boys were greeted on the concrete with cries of outrage, with serious accusations being made of misleading the Market. However, riding the storm of disapproval over the week, The Three Boys made a triumphant return to the Monday Market the following week; their pizza now replete with perfectly cooked crispy bacon, resulting in bumper trades throughout the lunch period.

November 1990 – A Period of Refinement:

Over the following few months and into the new year, a slow program of gradual refinement was introduced to The Recipe. Colby cheese was replaced with Tasty cheese, resulting in a more stringy and tactile texture. Shoulder bacon was replaced with rashers of bacon, and a new technique was trialed where the bacon was cut into finer pieces with the pan placed on a higher temperature. This resulted in crispy pieces of bacon that added a new dimension of flavour to the pizza. In an effort to reduce the amount of ‘slippage’, whereby the top layer of the pizza would slide off from the initial bite, tomato paste became the first layer of the pizza followed by the tomato sauce. While it was not a complete success, incidents of ‘slippage’ diminished significantly.

These changes were greeted positively on the School Swap-Lunch Market, and The Cameron Clan Sunday Pizza continued to trade successfully. 

May 1991 – Mother Uses Her Veto:

This period will perhaps best be remembered for the controversial inclusion of Frozen Peas to The Recipe. Upon realising Mother’s intention to include Frozen Peas in The Recipe, an immediate vote resulted in a 3 – 1 decision to exclude their use. In a return decision that shocked The Three Boys, Mother used her powerful ‘I-pay-the-bills-feed-you-cloth-you-provide-shelter-to-you-and-carried-you-in-my-womb-for-nine-goddam-months’ Veto, and for the following few weeks frozen peas were included in The Recipe. The School Swap-Lunch Market viewed the change indifferently, with The Cameron Clan Sunday Pizza continuing to trade well. Still, The Three Boys were rather indignant at such a blatant move to include greens in their diet.

August 1991 – Over-Extension:

In a bold move to maximize trade value, availability of the Cameron Clan Sunday Pizza was halved on Mondays, moving the other half to the Wednesday Market. It was a disastrous move. 

Artificially deflating the supply of pizza on the Monday Market did not result in the expected rise in demand. This was perhaps due to the introduction of new products to the market, namely ‘Uncle Toby’s Roll Ups’, a powerful competitor to the Sunday Pizza. It’s easy to say that a lack of market research could be blamed for the dominant role the ‘Roll Up’ was to play in later trading that year, but then again, no one could have seen then that a plastic looking, sugar-filled, red strip of dried fruit would be a serious contender on the School Swap-Lunch Market; it was a genuine disruptive force. 

However, lack of market research can certainly be blamed for the dismal performance of The Sunday Pizza on the Wednesday Market, seeing as it was in direct competition with Bought Lunch Day. No one, absolutely no one, wanted to swap their meat pie, hot chips, or raspberry bun for anything, not even The Sunday Pizza.

It was easy for The Three Boys to see they had over-extended themselves; the next week they ceased trading on The Wednesday Market, and concentrated with full force on keeping their pizza as the best trade on the playground in The Monday Market. Within two months they had gained ascendancy over the ‘Roll Up’, and through the next year trade for The Sunday Pizza thrived. 

September 1992: Outsourcing The Sunday Pizza:

In a still inexplicable move, in September 1992 production of The Sunday Pizza was outsourced by Mother to a friend she knew at work. Trade on the Monday Market went into free-fall.

The base was soggy, the tomato paste insipid, with the inclusion of acidic tomato slices on top proving to be the exclamation point to an altogether uninspiring pizza. Futile attempts were made to improve the flavour; pineapple pieces added, extra cheese layered on top; their desperation perhaps best illustrated by the re-introduction of Frozen Peas. The Market had spoken though; outsourced Sunday Pizza was bad, like, really bad.

It was a dark moment in the proud history of The Cameron Clan Sunday Pizza when two slices of pizza were traded for a Chesdale Cheese segment and a box of Sunrise Raisins, made all the worse for the fact they already possessed these items in their lunch boxes. The Cameron Clan Sunday Pizza was going down in flames.

This could have been the end for The Sunday Pizza, and it would have been too, had it not been for a strange twist of fate that saw the outsourced pizza producers pack up production and move towns. Within a week, normal production resumed, but The Three Boys reputation had taken a severe hit, and it would take some time to recover. 

December 1994 – The Final Bell:

In December 1994, The Cameron Clan Sunday Pizza ceased production. Mother had taken a good look around her, and tired of the cold, concerned for The Three Boys future options in a small town, and generally just needing to get out, she used her final Veto Power and made the decision to move towns.  The decision was not well received at first, but later reflection has proven it to be a wise course of action by Mother. 

No records have been kept detailing the last trades of The Cameron Clan Sunday Pizza on The School Swap-Lunch Market for those final months of 1994; anecdotal evidence suggests the ‘Roll Up’ may have been severely denting the trade power of the pizza, alongside a slight decrease in production. Remember however, that five years is an eternity on The School Swap-Lunch Market, with new products entering on an almost daily basis; it is testament to the taste of The Sunday Pizza that it was able to reign so successfully over those five years, and if you were to ask The Three Boys, they would tell you that success was well deserved. 

The Cameron Clan Household was certainly a strange beast. The combination of three stubborn young boys pushing the boundaries, and an over-worked, stressed Mother, often resulted in scenes of disharmony, arguments, and occasionally outright war, sometimes even involving a leather strap. The Sunday Pizza provided a welcome relief, and an opportunity for the four members of the household to join in a common cause; dinner on Sunday. As the years passed on in a new city with new influences, girls, sport, girls, after school engagements and girls all combined to squeeze out any spare time that may have been used to re-start production of The Sunday Pizza. Now, years later, Christmas time seems the last reserve for the four to enjoy petty arguments and squabbling over a shared cooked meal. But if you were to ask Mother and The Three Young Boys, they will easily tell you that The Cameron Clan Sunday Pizza lives on in their own hearts and minds; crispy bacon bits, gooey cheese, pineapple chunks and all. Just no frozen peas.

M Cameron