I typically have a hard time picking favorites, especially when it comes to books, but Fredrick Backman’s Anxious People absolutely makes my top list. It’s a funny, heartwarming, heartbreaking, and sometimes absurd tale that effortlessly displays the human experience. I, quite literally, laughed and cried out loud when I read this book earlier this year. I’m already tempted to revisit it again, but my TBR list is far too long to allow that!
Anxious People is one of those books that feels like conversation with an understanding friend (or a good therapist). Not to be dramatic, but this book really exemplifies what I love most about books and reading — we are all connected through the stories we tell.
🍔 🍔 🍔 🍔 .5 out of 5 burgers
A (Very) Brief Summary
An apartment viewing becomes a hostage situation when a bank robbery goes awry. The end.
Kidding, but I don’t want to say too much lest I risk spoiling the job of uncovering the seemingly endless twists and turns for you. Rest assured, no one involved is who they first appear to be … from the wealthy and icy bank director to the young, eager to impress policeman to the young woman who seems to be mere moments from going into labor to the bank robber themself.
I never heard of kebab pizza before reading this book, but let me tell you, it is DELICIOUS. I’m biased, because I am a sucker for a good kebab, but if you’re like me in that regard, this is a yummy dish that you must try to liven up pizza night!
You may be thinking, how on Earth does something as random as kebab pizza fit into a story about a bank robber holding a random (?) cast of characters hostage at a real estate viewing? Well, being hostages (and a hostage-taker) works up an appetite! About halfway through the book, the hostages ask for pizza, and in a particularly comedic moment, everyone of course wants a different order. Ro, one of the more whimsical characters, places the order:
A kebab pizza with garlic sauce! Extra sauce. And extra kebab. Preferably a bit charred. Hang on, I’ll go and see what Jules would like!Chapter 43, pg. 185
Having made this order myself, I second Ro’s choice in asking for extra garlic sauce. Because it is one of the tastiest condiments out there.
A Brief Word on Kebabs
Kebabs, also known as döner kebabs, are Middle Eastern dishes consisting of a marinated meat (generally chicken, beef, or lamb) slowly grilled on a vertical skewer and served with delicious accompaniments such as onions, hummus, garlic sauce, salad, chili sauce, and/or pita.
Kebabs are a super common and iconic street food in most major cities across the world. According to the BBC, the kebab as we know it was created by a Turkish immigrant named Kadir Nurman in 1972 Berlin, Germany, which seems to be why kebab is also commonly known as döner (German for kebab). Since their invention, kebab street vendors have popped up everywhere, particularly in Germany. The BBC also notes that Nurman never patented his particular style of street food, so he didn’t get to profit over the insane popularity of his enterprise. However, Nurman was quoted as not regretting his failure to patent, as he was happy that so many Turks were able to profit from selling kebabs.
To make kebab pizza as it appears in Anxious People, you’ll need a recipe for the pizza and the garlic sauce. Both are found below!
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tbsp white sugar
- 3 tbsp oil (I used vegetable)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp dry active yeast
- 1 cup whole milk
- ¼ cup warm water
- 4 tbsp plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp lemon juice (use fresh please)
- 2 tbsps tahini paste Make tahini paste by toasting sesame seeds (let's say a cup, but you will have tahini left over) in a pan until very lightly browned. Then, blend in a food processor or blender with 2 tbsps of olive oil until combined. Add more oil until you reach the desired consistency (slightly runny for this pizza).
- dash salt
Mince (the kebab part)
- 500 grams chicken breast Run the chicken through a food processor to mince.
- 1 bell pepper
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 green chilies
- 1 tsp paprika
- 4-5 mint leaves More if you like (I do.)
- 1 yellow onion
- 1 small tomato
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp ground pepper
- handful fresh cilantro
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese (more or less if you like)
- 1 red onion, sliced
- Mix together all dough ingredients until combined.
- Knead until dough forms.
- Let proof for about 1 hour.
- Mix all ingredients until combined.
- Process all mince veggies in a food processor set to chop until a fine chop is reached.
- In a separate bowl, mix the veggies, meat, and dash of salt together until combined.
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Divide the dough in half equally. Depending on your preference for amount of toppings, you can make two pizzas or one loaded one and reserve the other half of dough for future use.
- Roll out dough to a thin crust. Poke holes in it with a fork throughout.
- Spread the tahini spread all over the pizza as you would with tomato sauce on a traditional pizza.
- Sprinkle mozzarella over pizza evenly.
- Drop pieces of the mince mixture on top of the cheese.
- Bake pizza for 15-20 mins. Once done, sprinkle with sliced red onions and serve.
If you want extra garlic sauce, double this recipe:
Kebab garlic sauce
- 4 tbsps mayonaise
- 2 tbsps plain Greek yogurt
- 3 tsps minced garlic
- 2 tsps lemon juice (use fresh please)
- Combine, preferably in a food processor or blender, and use immediately, or store in the refrigerator for future use.
When you’re done cooking, top with the sauce, or dip your pizza in it. Enjoy!
In Conclusion …
I hope you’ve enjoyed this literary recipe! This pizza is so good, and I really cannot recommend Anxious People enough. It truly is such a worthwhile read. After you finish it, let me know what you think! Happy reading, and happy eating. 🙂