Sunday, August 19, 2012

Swedish Pizza

A staple of Swedish urban or semi-urban life is the local pizzeria. I've had plenty of pizza at the local joints in Järfälla, St. Eriksplan, and even our own local restaurant in Södra Ängby back when we lived in Stockholm over 20 years ago. I'd bet there's one within 10 minutes of most of the population, and they all have a range of named pizzas with odd combinations of toppings.

The name of our local was Lilla Riviera. I took a look online, and sure enough, it's still in business and appears to be thriving! Scrolling down through the menu shows 29 different pizzas available.

One evening there has entered into our family's history. For some reason, I ordered a pizza with an egg. The pizza arrived with the most-barely-cooked egg you could imagine. The whites weren't even white; instead the pizza was covered in runny albumen.

To be honest, I came close to gagging at the time. Even writing this today makes it queasy. To this day, I can't stand the sight of a runny egg, much to the amusement of Sooz and Grant.

The reason I'm reminiscing about Swedish pizzas is because of a great article on the subject in the Huffington Post (of all places). It is an instructive and entertaining read, if a bit hipster-bombastic for my tastes. The key passage for me is:
Anything that seemed exotic or exclusive would end up as a culinary titillation: something that seemed like a good idea to eat at the time.

Since a pizzeria is/was an easy and inexpensive restaurant to start up - great profit margin, not much need for culinary know-how - Swedish pizza was well on its way to becoming the abject culinary absurdity it is today.

I do love everything about Swedish pizza, the general weirdness, the exotica narrative, the ceremonial naming of the pies, the economics of necessity.
My local pizza joint sticks with pepperoni, extra cheese, and perhaps jalapeños as options. I simply can't find a pineapple, banana and curry pizza anywhere in Texas. But I can at Lilla Riviera. It's a number 19.

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