‘Kapsalon’ caught my eye last summer during my visit to Saint Petersburg – Russia, at the Potato & Mushroom Restaurant. The cause had nothing to do with these two veggies but rather that they offered ‘kapsalon’ on their menu. I couldn’t avoid noticing a sensation of national pride: an imported Dutch product being prepared so many miles from its original hometown , the city of Rotterdam.

The Dutch word ‘ kapsalon’ best translates as hairdresser, the place where both women and men go to for a haircut, hair coloring, etc. But it is also the name for a rectangular plastic container covered with foil loaded with fries and shawarma meat topped with a layer of Gouda cheese and a layer of greens floating in garlic sauce. When seeing ‘kapsalon’ on the menu, my Dutch pride instantly faded when I reminded myself of the 1800 calories this delicacy contains and that it ultimately serves as an intoxicating 3 a.m. delight especially among night crawlers.

Among Dutch youngsters ‘kapsalon’ soon became popular after Mr. Derius Bengu took the order from Mr. Nathaniël Gomes, a hairdresser – originating from Cape Verde Islands- three stores down from Mr. Derius’ eatery.

One day Mr. Nathaniël Gomes was starving and asked Mr. Derius Bengu to just send him a container filled with fries and shawarma meat topped with some salad. Mr. Nathaniël’s clients became rather curious about this dish, so he told them: ‘ Just go to Derius eatery and ask him for a ‘kapsalon’, and he knows what to prepare for you.’ Voilá the ‘kapsalon’ was born.

Here you can meet the ‘father’ of the ‘kapsalon’, Mr. Gomes. Although the video is in Dutch, it will enable you to see what the ‘kapsalon’ looks like.

What blows my mind about this ‘kapsalon’ phenomenon is how a rectangular foil container loaded with 1800 calories becomes so world famous. There has never been a marketing- research tool nor an intercultural assessment test applied to this dish. It has never been allocated a marketing budget. Meanwhile its popularity reaches from Russia to the United States of America, where everyone can try out this ‘exotic dish’, not only just those belonging to a small exclusive privileged group who usually can afford novelties. Moreover this makes ‘Kapsalon’ is an awesome example of intercultural success! It has crossed all borders and isn’t constrained by any intercultural hurdles: just like birds migrate and cross borders ‘kapsalon’ proves to be a culture savvy product.

Which of your products potentially also is culture savvy? Where lies your challenge to think out of the box and into the foil?

 

‘Kapsalon’

  • 1 portion Dutch fries
  • 200 gram shawarma meat
  • garlic sauce
  • hot sauce (optional)
  • 1 slice gouda cheese
  • 1 handful of iceberg lettuce

Put fries into aluminum container, add shawarma meat, drizzle with garlic sauce and hot sauce (optional). Top with gouda cheese and place under a hot grill for 2-3 minutes until cheese has melted. Finish off with a layer of iceberg lettuce and serve with a plastic fork and lots of napkins.