Half jokingly, Norwegians say that frozen pizza is Norway’s national dish. It’s not hard to tell as pizza usually dominates the frozen food section. In our store we have so much pizza it takes up two isles, compared to the lowly peanut butter which only has one brand, one type – Mills smooth. But with all this pizza there is still not much variety. Every new pizza brand that comes out the same flavours are on offer – meat, ham and pineapple and margarita. This suits Norwegians just fine as variety isn’t cared for. I guess it’s hard to freeze all the good stuff you’d put on pizza (like eggplant and pumpkin) but these types of ingredients would scare Norwegians away. They are quiet happy with plain, simple, boring pizza.
The most popular brand is Grandiosa. They are the most dodgiest pizza around, but they were the first. It’s important to be the first in Norway (it’s not hard to be as there is not a great selection of products here) but all firsts get a strong foothold on the market, and as Norwegians are extreme habital creatures, any other competitors have a greater than normal chance of ‘crash and burn’.
Norwegians like their pizza unhealthy, the more unhealthy the better. Grandiosa had a habit of putting capsicum (paprika) on their pizzas. Capsicum is very popular in Norway. They are sold like apples. But everyone complained that they had to pick off the capsicum before they could eat it. I guess even though the capsicum was small, shrivelled and frozen, Norwegians still found it too healthy and had the need to pick it off. So Grandiosa came out with a new pizza that was ‘pre-picked’ of capsicum. I don’t know why they just didn’t come out with a pizza without capsicum. ;D) They showed us ads on TV of how they picked off the capsicum – vacuuming, opera singing, pizza slinging – mmmmmh, that really makes me want to eat the pizza now.
I must admit, we do buy frozen pizza, but only the margaritas to use as a base. We like to dress up our own pizza, putting on the stuff that would make a normal Norwegian cringe and back away. Feta cheese and fresh baby spinach, cherry tomatoes and real mozzarella, grilled eggplant and garlic. The trick is to only feature two ingredients. That’s the way real Italian pizzas are made. In fact, the Italian Pizza making authorities in Melbourne, Australia, say the pizza should be good enough having only one fresh ingredient with cheese and the tomato base. That is the traditional way of making pizza. (It is also tradition to put the cheese on the bottom of the pizza. The only reason pizza makers put the cheese on the top is so it creates a blanket to hold all the other stuff down.)
In regards to fresh pizza, I haven’t seen one true Italian-made pizza in Norway (yet). I don’t mean pizza that says it’s ‘Italian’, I mean a pizza made by a real Italian. I know all the Norwegian pizza restaurants try hard and the Turkish run Italian restaurants don’t do such a bad job but when you eat a real Italian pizza you have been to heaven and back. (I miss Lygon street!) The only way to upgrade the standard of pizza eating (and making) in Norway is for a true pizza-making Italian to move here. So what are all the pizza-making Italians waiting for – immigrate, immigrate! I will certainly be travelling to your restaurant no matter where it is in Norway to finally eat a real pizza in the Arctic.
(P.S: Apparently there might be a good Italian-run pizza restaurant in Oslo but that could just be a rumour.)