Swedish pizza is a distinctively Nordic take on a South-Mediterranean classic you’ll either love or hate. The Swedes adore it and consume countless Swedish pizza variants in their droves. But why Italian pizza in Sweden? And why so many far-out recipes?
The Swedish Pizza Industry
This unusual cultural trend is said to have developed as a direct result of an influx of Italian migrants who arrived during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Of course, they brought their pizzas too. And once it became apparent there was a local market for fresh pizza, they also opened up pizzerias to meet this demand. As a result, Sweden’s contemporary pizza marketplace is dominated by independent businesses run by migrant workers from most countries in the Mediterranean region. A common sight in a Swedish Pizzeria is the video poker machines and slots, where you can play while waiting for your pizza.
This alone has brought together a whole range of multicultural influences which have all left their mark on the pizza product. Exotic ingredients are almost considered essential by some Swedish-pizza connoisseurs. But this culinary movement has other unusual traditions too. For instance, in Sweden, every kind of pizza is served along with some kind of side salad which includes white cabbage, peppers, oil and vinegar. When you dine on restaurant pizza, your salad appears as a communal bowl in the centre of the table, whereas the takeaway equivalent comes in a bag or a plastic cup. There’s no protocol surrounding how and when you eat your ‘pizza salad’, so it gets consumed before or after, as well as along with, your chosen pizza.
And what a choice there is! Swedes are not instinctively conservative when it comes to pizza flavours. Many aficionados would be happy to add a little more relish from time to time, but Swedish pizza recipes are the stuff of dreams, or nightmares, according to how much respect you wish to show your taste buds and digestive system! To (perhaps) whet your appetite, here are five pizza blends, all of which are said to be in certain Swedish pizza houses:
- Pizzeria Värmland in Örebro do a Pizza Hajk which contains: tomato sauce, cheese, chicken, wild mushrooms, raisins, peanuts, banana and curry.
- Gothenburg’s Pizzeria Mini Mac serve a Pizza Fruit with these ingredients: tomato sauce, cheese, canned fruit cocktail and chocolate.
- Diners at the Pizzeria Kronoparken in Karlstad can order a Pizza Eriksson with tomato sauce, cheese, Swedish meatballs, kebab meat, onions, bell peppers, bearnaise sauce and salami.
- Visit the Pizzeria Bosporen in Leksand to sample their Pizza A La Duck: tomato sauce, cheese, duck, chanterelles, black currants and honey.
- Savour a Pizza Chicago from Pizzeria Alfågeln in Waxholm which is made with tomato sauce, cheese, pork tenderloin, shrimp, gorgonzola, pineapple and curry.
And “topping” the lot, Piteå’s Nya Gul & Blå pizzeria offers fast-food fans a “Vulcan” pizza – billed as one of the best pizzas in the world. This monster is made with ingredients such as bacon, pepperoni, diced steak, fries, cucumber, tomato, red onion, lettuce, mountains of cheese – and very much more besides.
Swedish Kebab Pizza
Sweden’s all-time favorite pizza recipe is the kebab pizza. It was brought to Sweden in the 1970s by migrant families from the Balkans and the Middle East. Today, its widespread popularity means you can even find a kebab pizza sold as a frozen-food dish in Swedish supermarkets. Lamb is the traditional kebab meat, but Swedish kebab pizzas may also use beef, chicken, pork, turkey, or perhaps even goat, fish or various other kinds of seafood. Served in a wrap, as a sandwich, or on a bed of fries along with onions, Tzatziki sauce, green peppers and lettuce, a kebab pizza is certainly tasty, but not an option for the calorie conscious!