As Swedish as midsummer celebrations and ABBA is the affordable delicacy the kebab pizza. A guilty favourite of many both young and old, the kebab pizza isn’t reserved for late nights or groggy mornings after. It may very well be the folk hero of Swedish fast food, and that’s why you have to add it to your list of things to see and do when visiting Sweden.
Is Swedish pizza even a thing, you ask? Certainly, it is. Since man first baked a flat-bread variety, pizza has been made the world over. Food tells the story of a people and the history of a place. This universal truth begins the story of the Swedish pizza evolution. Wonderfully versatile, the Swedish pizza is a melting pot of desires and appetites irrespective of conventional rules and nutritional value. Commonly available ingredients listed on the Swedish pizza menu include bananas, peanuts, shellfish, curry, bearnaise or garlic sauce. The pizzas are baked on thin crusts, occasionally in traditional Italian brick ovens, and never do they come already sliced. This fast-food item is quintessentially Swedish in its equal love of all and inclusivity of all tastes. The one Swedish pizza that wins over many hearts is the infamous kebab pizza.
A star is born
Swedish kebab pizza is a manifestation of migration history and socioeconomics. Turkish and Balkan families introduced the Kebab a close cousin of the Greek gyro – thinly sliced, spiced, processed meat served with fresh onions, Tzatziki sauce, pickled green peppers and lettuce in a wrap, sandwich bread or on a bed of fries. A kebab salad is available on most menus for the calorie-conscious and low-carb-diet follower. Serving the popular kebab dish on a pizza base is a natural, albeit surreal, development of folk food culture.
So however long you stay, no matter the weather, make time to experience this unusual pizza for yourself. As exotic food delicacies go, the kebab pizza is gentle on your wallet and easy on your palette. A friendly tip: don’t count the calories for that meal.
The evolution of pizza in Sweden
Fast-food kiosks serving the standard fare of pizza and kebabs are common in both urban centers and rural Sweden. As start-up businesses go, the costs are reasonably low and the kolgrill/pizzeria quickly became a favourite for newly arrived migrant families. The story according to Swedish celebrity chef Magnus Nilsson is that the first pizzerias opened in Sweden in the 1940s. With the invitation of migrant workers from southern Europe in the 1970s, the kebab shop arrived. When Balkan families arrived in the 1990s, they introduced the pizza salad, which is a sliced white cabbage doused in vinegar, salt and black pepper. Affordable and easily available, one is spoiled for choice with the kebab pizza. These days you can even find kebab pizza in your grocery store’s frozen-food aisle.
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