Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Surstromming and Lutefisk

This morning I heard an interesting story on the radio. It was about Surstromming (sour Herring), Sweden's national dish, a very stinky fish that just got banned from international passenger flights because of the possibility that the cans could explode. The story is here.

Read more about stinky surstromming.

Surströmming is sold in cans, which when opened release a strong, foul smell. It is for this particular smell, which is similar to fish gone bad or garbage left out in the sun for a couple of days, that surströmming is infamous in popular culture, and it is often held that people who try surströmming can be confident that they will never forget it. Because of the smell, the dish is often eaten outdoors. However, the smell can be avoided if the can is opened under water. The Finnish word is hapansilakka.

How about another stinky fish? Well, how about some Norwegian Lutefisk!

Quote from Garrison Keillor's book Lake Wobegon Days:

"Every Advent we entered the purgatory of lutefisk, a repulsive gelatinous fishlike dish that tasted of soap and gave off an odor that would gag a goat. We did this in honor of Norwegian ancestors, much as if survivors of a famine might celebrate their deliverance by feasting on elm bark. I always felt the cold creeps as Advent approached, knowing that this dread delicacy would be put before me and I’d be told, "Just have a little." Eating a little was like vomiting a little, just as bad as a lot."

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