Would you care for a fermented fish?


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Bec played a game with our passengers called ‘Fish of Fortune! whilst we were in Stockholm.

At the supermarket we had sourced plenty of fish related delicacies. Tuna, Smoked Salmon, Prawns, Clams, Fishermens Friend – and Surstromming. For those of you not familiar with it, surstromming is Baltic sea herring that has been fermented for at least 6 months in a can. Wikipedia describes that ‘when opened, the contents release a strong and sometimes overwhelming odour.’ German food critic Wolfgang Fassbender wrote that ‘the biggest challenge when eating surstromming is to vomit only after the first bite, as opposed to before’.

The can swells from the gasses of the fermenting fish and although the smell is legendary, the taste is not so much; and I must guess that that is because after smelling the fish no one has any desire to taste it. We were going to though. And by we, I mean anybody but myself.

The can was opened underwater as apparently it is likely to explode when punctured. Ours did not and was safely brought up for air. We could already smell it. I don’t even need to exaggerate here. Imagine fish that has been left to rot for months and that is exactly what it was. The next step was to  divy up all the fish related tasters and hide one portion of surstromming amongst them. Then arrange them in a circle. The player would then spin a bottle in the middle of the circle to the chant of ‘Fish! Of! Fortune!’ and whatever bowl it landed on. They had to eat.

At least 4 people braved the surstromming and their faces were similar to what you might expect if someone ate soap accidentally. Spitting, wiping of tongues, desperately seeking something else to chew (apparently parsley was a good palate cleanser). Meanwhile the rest of us laughed and laughed.  Later that night Bec said that she could still smell it and could I also? I could not but those who had eaten it did report the smell following them for hours.

A must do in Sweden? I managed to resist.

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