The take-away, or ‘gatukök’ as it’s known in Swedish, has been a part of Sweden’s food culture since the early 1950s. Those seeking a quick food fix will find hotdog stands and falafel kiosks on many a street corner. However, in a move to up the city’s culinary game, in 2014 Gothenburg’s council offered 10 gourmet entrepreneurs permits to roll into town in a range of central locations. Today the number of trucks has more than doubled and there is even an app, Streetkäk, to enable customers to track each one.
This summer Götaplatsen, a busy square in the middle of the town and one of the most popular of the more than 20 designated locations citywide, will once again launch Street Food Saturdays, a weekly event that marries food and live music, evoking a festival feel in the heart of the city. Reinventing the idea of fast food with local, seasonal produce and a gourmet approach, Gothenburg’s food trucks are taking lunch to the next level.
Medhane Tewolde of In Gwaro serves up healthy vegan dishes inspired by the cuisine of his native Ethiopia and also the Caribbean. A vegan himself, the impetus to create healthy food on the go came during his days as a touring musician, when he found it so difficult to find suitable food on the road that he started cooking his own dishes in the various venues’ kitchens. Inspired by the food trucks in Germany in the late 80s and early 90s, Medhane took his vegan kitchen to the streets of Gothenburg in 2014. One of In Gwaro's most popular dishes is injera, a delicious sourdough flatbread from Ethiopia, filled with GMO-free soya protein, herbs and spices and fresh steamed vegetables.
In 2014, restaurant chefs Rasmus Strand, Mats-Peter Kristiansen and Fredrik Robertsson decided to take their culinary expertise on the road, attracted by the idea of serving up their ‘slow’ fast food somewhere different every day, from a forest clearing, say, to an office. All the ingredients are local and ethically sourced. The changing menu is inspired by seasonal products, but favourites such as pulled pork or beef brisket sandwiches, served with homemade kimchi and garlic and chili mayonnaise, have become staples.
Mexican-born Mayra Benítez Poyo’s original dream was to open a restaurant serving ceviche – a traditional Latin American dish made from fresh raw fish – but her culinary trajectory took a more mobile route and she instead set up shop in a truck. Taking the traditional Mexican recipe as her starting point, Mayra substitutes fish indigenous to her native land with locally sourced salmon and cod for a Nordic twist, serving it with quinoa or coconut rice and authentic Mexican guacamole.
With more than 30 restaurants around the country, Harrys has become something of an institution, thanks to its Swedish tavern meets American diner staples. Last year it joined the food truck revolution, with street-food adaptations of menu favourites for diners on the go: apple pork with tartare sauce, onions and pretzel, say, or smoked salmon with salad and celery remoulade. Satisfy a sweet craving with a slice of radiokaka (‘hedgehog slice’), a chocolate creation that’s one of the nation’s favourite desserts.