Saturday, December 31, 2005

Angry, angry herring

Tonight I'm going to a dinner party with Dr. Style, who previously made an appearance during her help in the "swedification" process of our mutual friend Houston. It's a sort of buffet, with everyone bringing something to add to the menu. First she suggested I bring "fish paté." My immediate response to that was, "Sure, I have several cans of that at home already. Kitty eats it twice a day."

I should probably mention that I'm suspicious of anything that has to do with Swedes and the things they do to fish. (This is not just the Swedes; I'm not a big fan of Japanese sushi either, or the various meals the French prepare with samon fumé.) But the Swedes probably take the cake when it comes to gross fish dishes.

Take surströmming. Literally translated, that means "sour herring." What it is in reality is fermented herring. Or "sur" can also be translated as "angry." I kind of like the thought of an "angry herring." I'd be pissed off too if someone tried to ferment me.

Once upon a time, a Scandinavian Archimedes shouted "Eureka!" when he came up with the brilliant idea of taking a herring and burying it in the sand for several years, allowing it to sufficiently rot before digging it up again to eat it. Perhaps this made SOME sense in the days before modern conveniences like fridges and stoves, but how this became a national delicacy is beyond me.

Anyway, so I'm taking artichoke hearts and grapes instead of anything fishy. The real purpose of this rather pointless entry is to wish everyone a very happy New Year's!

And as we never tired of saying the day before everyone went on Christmas break in elementary school, I'll see you next year!

11 Comments:

Anonymous Johan said...

Gross fish dishes? I'll admit Surströmming is a higly aquired taste. But compared to chinese sea cucumber, sea urchin, gravlax on french pizza's and sushi.

I'll send you a recipe of a fish dish that will make your friends drool and lick sauce off the plates, if you want.

Good luck with the cat!

Happy New Year to all of you

6:09 PM  
Blogger Francis S. said...

Herring.

Sigh.

I eat it, but it sure doesn't say "Christmas" to me like it seems to to everyone else I know (along with ham, janssons, beet salad and some other stuff of course, but still.) And after the third day of leftovers, it's all I can do to look at it... I stick to the potatoes.

7:36 PM  
Blogger Me said...

I guess we can be lucky that Surströmming only is a delicacy in some secluded parts of Sweden.
I’ve brought some cans back to Japan which have also been used in a comedy program on Japanese TV.
Japanese people are crazy about various game-programs on TV, and in this one program, the loosing contestants had to be locked up in an airtight glassroom together with a can of Surströmming.
The result is that today many Japanese people knows about Surströmming.
See, the Surströmming can also be a tool for cultural exchange…Hmmmm….

4:24 AM  
Anonymous adam said...

Happy new year!

11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you heard of the Icelandic dish "rotten shark"? They take a shark, bury it in the ground for some time and then dig it up and eat it..... or something like that.

And in Norway they consider cod´s eyes to be a delicacy.

I have this Xmas for the first time in my 27,5-year old life eaten "sill". I am still ambivalent about the taste, but hey, it´s tradition. I have never eaten "surströmming" - or rotten shark och cod´s eyes either.

If I may add some dishes to the "strange dish list": in the south of Europe som people consider sheep´s brains as delicacies; in Scotland you eat haggis, and you must know what haggis is? ;)

12:48 PM  
Blogger Curiosa said...

francis s., and remember janssons has anchovies in it. yick.

2:51 PM  
Blogger Marie said...

And let's not forget lutfisk. I'm dying to know who dreamed up the idea of soaking fish in lye. Too much winter vodka methinks.

4:22 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Jo fisk är äckligt...men lax, det är banne mig gott!

Gott nytt på dig curiosa...

4:45 PM  
Blogger Curiosa said...

yes, marie, lutfisk. i'm not sure where the idea came from, but i'm not too thrilled at the same idea of eating food that has been soaked in the same stuff that they use to make drain cleaner.

6:06 PM  
Blogger Cindy aka Epicentre said...

Somehow all the things you had to eat if you were poor a hundred years ago has become sacred food on Swedish holidays... Is it some kind of bizarre way of thanking for not having to eat it in order to survive?

I'm glad to be a vegetarian.

8:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Var det inte nån som sa att alla delikatesser måste haft sitt ursprung i svält?
Förklaringen var att "Vem skulle få för sig att äta sniglar, grodlår eller inlagd strömming, där tunnan inte varit lufttät så den jäst, om man inte är riktigt hungrig?
(För övrigt... den isländska jästa hajen smakar RIKTIGT illa *brrrr* )

2:19 PM  

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