Flygande Jacob is a casserole of chicken, bananas, Heinz chili sauce, whipped cream, and Italian salad spices, topped with peanuts and bacon. The dish is named after the air-freight employee who invented it on a whim. Food snobs, horrified by its offbeat ingredients combo (and orange color), are often shocked to find it quite tasty with a mix of sweet, spicy, smooth, crunchy, and salty flavors and textures.
It seems Ove Jacobsson, invited to bring potluck to a neighborhood dinner party, threw together a mishmash of ingredients he had on hand. After rave reviews, he submitted the recipe to a food magazine, Allt om Mat (All About Food), which published it in 1976 and named it in his honor. The dish became so sensationally popular, groceries later sold frozen food and baby food versions. It’s far from the only banana-based dinner entrée in Sweden (there’s a pork, banana, spicy peppers, and cream casserole; and fish with almonds and bananas). It reflects a Swedish fondness for fruits served with savory foods, like lingonberries with venison or pork roast with prunes. The magazine reprinted the original recipe in 2014.
“Flygande Jacob isn’t a dish you often find at restaurants (probably because it’s considered lowbrow and more of a kid’s food), but I think a lot of adults enjoy it and it’s easy to make at home. Those serving it tend to be lunch places that serve traditional home-cooked Swedish food, which is interesting because its ingredients are usually not part of traditional Swedish cooking,” says Melinda Martino, a spokesperson for Visit Sweden. “My mom used to make it, and I think she served it at one of my birthday parties. I like it!”
Swedish chef Magnus Nilsson of the now-closed Michelin two-star Faviken and Netflix series Chef’s Table (Season 3), even praised it as “emblematic” of Sweden’s contemporary food culture.