Sweden is not exactly world-renown for its cuisine, but since moving here I have been introduced to some foods that were, for a number of reasons, not part of my regular diet in the U.S. A couple of them have become such favorites that I often wonder how I managed to survive so long without them.
The first of these is the king of European fast-food, kebab.
There are endless varieties of this dish, which can be served as separate items on a plate or rolled up in flat-bread. I first experienced kebab as a student in London MANY years ago and loved it. But alas there was nothing else like it in Indiana when I returned home. Even today the only reasonable facsimile available in my hometown would be a gyro sandwich from the local Greek restaurant…which is also delicious but not quite the same.
The second of these is Bearnaise Sauce.
Now I know that Bearnaise Sauce is a pretty standard, if somewhat luxurious, accompaniment to meats and veggies, but my Mom is an inveterate gravy-maker so other types of sauces were rarely on the menu when I was growing up. Here in Sweden, Bearnaise is on a par with ketchup in terms of how commonly it’s served. (You can actually get packets of it at McDonald’s as a french-fry dip.)
The first time I saw Dr. Darling ladle Bearnaise Sauce over a steak I was sure she’d ruined it. And then curiousity got the best of me (as it often does) and I had to taste it for myself. Suffice it to say that now we rarely cook any kind of beef without serving Bearnaise Sauce with it. And how nice that it goes well with pretty much every other kind of meat on the planet, too.
So just try to imagine my delight when we discovered a pizza place just around the corner from The Penthouse – Nordic that makes a calzone filled with mushrooms, onions, kebab meat AND my beloved Bearnaise Sauce! Talk about heaven!
The really goofy thing is that it doesn’t even have to be good Bearnaise Sauce for me to want to slather it all over everything on my plate. I am just as happy with the cheap stuff that can be thrown together from a mix on the stove at home. This is probably a good thing, because regular exposure to the “real thing” would probably force me to start my own religion.