Weekly Photo Challenge: Unusual

”Surströmming (pronounced [sʉ̌ːʂtrœmːɪŋ], Swedish ”soured (Baltic) herring”) is a northern Swedish dish consisting of fermented Baltic herring. Surströmming is sold in cans, which may bulge after prolonged storage, due to the continued fermentation. When opened, the contents release a strong and sometimes overwhelming odor, which explains why the dish is often eaten outdoors. A Japanese study has shown that the smell of a newly opened can of surströmming is the most putrid smell of food in the world, beating similar fermented fish dishes such as the Korean Hongeohoe or Japanese Kusaya.[1]

Surströmming is often eaten with a kind of bread known as tunnbröd, literally ”thin bread”. This thin, either soft or crispy bread (not to be confused with crisp bread) comes in big square sheets when crisp or as rounds of almost a meter in diameter when soft.

The custom in Höga Kusten (”The High Coast”), the area of northern Sweden where this tradition originates from, is to make a sandwich, commonly known as a ”surströmmingsklämma”, using two pieces of the hard and crispy kind of tunnbröd with butter, boiled and sliced or mashed potatoes (often mandelpotatis or almond potatoes) and sliced fish in between and nothing more.

In the southern part of Sweden, it is customary to use a variety of condiments such as diced onion, gräddfil (fat fermented milk/sour cream) or crème fraîche, chives and sometimes even tomato and chopped dill.

The surströmming sandwich is usually served with snaps and light colored beers like pilsener or lager. Other drinks of choice are svagdricka (lit. ”weak drink”, a Swedish low alcohol dark malt beverage brewed since the Middle Ages, slightly similar to porter), water or cold milk. However, exactly what to drink or not to drink to surströmming is highly disputed among connoisseurs. Some claim that cold milk is the right and only choice while others refer to svagdricka as the most traditional drink. Surströmming is usually served as the focus of a traditional festivity, a ”surströmmingsskiva” (surströmming party).

Many people do not care for surströmming, and it is generally considered to be an acquired taste. Conversely, it is a food which is subject to strong passions (as is lutefisk), and occasionally people like the taste on first try.

The text comes from wikipedia
and you can read more about surtrömming there, and there are pictures to see also

Surströmming eat some of us who live in northern Sweden. Most people who have not eaten the fish before refusing to eat it when the can is opened and the incredibly strong disgusting smell reaches your nose. It is fortunate that the fish do not taste like it smells.


11 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge: Unusual

  1. When people who eat stinky delicacies and insist the flavour differs from the smell, I believe them. However, I’m often left wondering ‘how can you ignore the smell whilst eating it?’ Foods that can bulge tin cans are unusual!

  2. Ohhhh … what a GREAT idea!!! 🙂 They make it not too far from where I come from.

    I’m not a huge fan, but I can have two or three at the most …

  3. hmmmm…. i have always said i will try everything once. but i made an exception when i had the opportunity to try some durian fruit. a friend from Singapore was sharing some, but it too has it own unique smell – some would say it has a fragrance, others would say it is an odour.
    i could not do it. so, i am not sure i would try this either. but i would definitely take a look at it and think about it before i made that decision 🙂 thank you for sharing about this unusual meal!


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