The Tyranny of Swedish Pizza
1000 years ago, Swedes raided the lands of other nations with shields and axes to take their valuable resources and most beautiful women. Today, Sweden is an egalitarian socialist paradise, partaking in the most neutral foreign policy of any nation in existence. Exactly how they made this 1000 year transition from axe wielding psychopaths to passive diplomatic bureaucrats, nobody is quite sure (including Swedes), but for all those nostalgic viking lovers out there, fear not! Sweden is still looting and pillaging foreign lands, but today it's not done through rampant seafaring violence, but instead poorly executed cultural appropriation. Yes, I'm talking about Swedish Pizza.
Sweden, a word of caution from an imported Canadian: please don't let the Italians find out what you're up to up here. You cook pizzas like a 2nd grader fills in a page of Mad LIbs, and if discovered, this practice of yours could cause major diplomatic setbacks for the entirety of the EU. It's like you read half the definition of "Pizza" in the encyclopedia, stopped reading, and ran to the kitchen to cook... something?
I've seen hummus, falafel, bananas, dijon mustard, lemons, yoghurt, mint, sweet potato, avacado, cauliflower, eggplant, onion rings, Bearnaise sauce, shrimp, mussels, tuna, curry and mexican salsa on your pizzas. Now I know some of those are stranger than others, but they make some pizza without cheese here. Some pizzas don't have sauce. Honestly, at this point, I have no idea what Swedes even consider the definition of pizza to be.
Before we dive too deep into this, let's talk about all of Swedish cuisine for a second. Never has a culture more wholly rejected their culinary traditions than the country of Sweden. The last thing Swedes seem interested in is exporting their pickled fish. The second last thing Swedish people seem interested in is eating their pickled fish. Every restaurant in the country is either Sushi, Thai, or Pizza, with various American chains sprinkled about.
Here's a question for you. What do you think Swedes eat on Fridays? I bet you didn't guess tacos, because it's tacos. Not only is this weird because of the obviousness of Taco Tuesdays, but also because Sweden is the last place you would expect a healthy appreciation for Mexican cuisine. Just check out the size of their taco sections.
Come to think of it, this is a Taco section and not a Mexican section, so it's not so much a respect for Mexican cuisine as much as it is a simple love for tacos. I have asked various Swedes to explain this tradition of Tacos on Fridays, but the most comprehensive answer I've received has been "We like them." The first time I made tacos with Swedes, one of them started cutting up a banana. To a Canadian in their kitchen, somebody cutting up a banana to make tacos is the equivalent of someone buying a typewriter to bake a raspberry pie. There's just more questions than answers there. Did Sweden receive it's first shipment of bananas in 1996 and just not know what to do with them, because it sure seems like a long-term confused culinary experiment to me.
Back to Pizza:
This is a white pizza from Sweden, which is a Swedish excuse to serve you whatever they want to and call it a pizza. You could order a white pizza in Sweden and receive a fried catfish, and it would technically be correct (the best kind of correct!). At least this one looks like a pizza, but the sauce was butter hazelnut dressing and was topped with cream cheese and pumpkin chuncks, because why not?
Actually, "Why not?" is the best description of Swedish culinary philosophy I have found so far. It seems the entire practice of cooking in Sweden is based upon shrugging your shoulders with the inability to find a good reason NOT do something. Szechuan chicken shwarma? Why not! Pad Thai burgers? Sure! Tabbouleh enchiladas? Of course!
Really, Sweden might just be the most open-minded culture in the world when it comes to what they put in their mouths, but when your only alternative is shrimp cheese in a tube, I guess anybody would get creative.
After writing this I ordered a Taco Pizza from our local pizza shop, because of course you can order a taco pizza from the shop around the corner. It had ham, red onions, and salsa on it, and was the cultural equivalent of a Ferrari wearing a giant sombrero. Also, it was delicious. Ugh. Sweden.