Why Pizza Is Often Served With Pickles In South Korea

Certain famous food pairings are the product of specific cultures: the French invented the wine and cheese pairing (via Wine Cooler Direct), the British national dish combines fish and chips, and of course, there is the undeniably American invention of chicken and waffles.

In the realm of pizza, some Americans like to wash down their slices with a glass of milk (controversially so, as immortalized in the 1999 film "The Deep End of the Ocean"), while others drink soda with their pies. In the United States, classic pizza side dishes come in the form of more carbs: breadsticks, mozzarella sticks, garlic knots, and perhaps even a Caesar salad with a heaping serving of croutons. 

However, in Korea, the ideal perfect pizza side dish may surprise you, since it's a food item that is usually associated with deli sandwiches and hamburgers. If you haven't guessed what it is by now, here's another hint: it's green and fermented. Yes, Koreans like to eat their pizza with a side of pickles, according to NextShark

The acidity of pickles cut the rich flavors of pizza

It's no surprise that Westerners are a bit surprised to see pickles served alongside pizza, but their puzzled reaction was given a thoughtful explanation by a group of mothers raising Korean American children, the Kimchi Mamas. One helpful commenter writes, "Koreans have a hard time with cheese and butter and other rich Western foods. It goes down better for us when there's something to cut through the richness." 

This tradition of chasing fat and greasy foods has precedent; their grandmother used to eat kimchi at home after a night out dining on heavy Western foods of pizza and pasta. But because pickles are considered to be more Western than kimchi, they became the side of choice for Koreans when eating cheese slices.

But pizza in Korea isn't unique only for its pickle pairing: They also like to stuff their crust with mashed sweet potatoes and even use bulgogi as a topping (per The Pizza Heaven). If the idea of pickle pizza tickles your fancy, one pizzeria in Alaska, The Hungry Robot has a pizza named "The Dilly Dilly" made with roasted garlic cream sauce, shredded mozzarella, garlic and dill ranch dressing, and a bunch of dill pickles (you can watch Guy Fieri taste test it on YouTube).