Wednesday, August 1, 2007


We now travel to Sweden, where we will investigate the language of food delicacies. Today, I am referring to Surströmming, or canned fermented baltic herring.

Surströmming is produced by soaking herring fish in brine and fermenting them for one to two months in barrels. Next, the ripe morsels of joy are canned and allowed to ferment for up to six additional months, causing the cans to bulge from a build up of carbon dioxide.

Haloanaerobium bacteria are responsible for imparting surströmming's unique flavor, through their production of propionic acid, acetic acid, and hydrogen sulfide.

It sounds something like rotten eggs with vinegar.

Opening cans of the pungent fish may be dangerously explosive, a practice which has been banned from several airlines. Besides the safety issues, how would you like to sprayed in the face with the stuff?

It sounds very interesting, but I'm not sure I understand the appeal of surströmming.

Have any of you tried it? Can you help me translate?


Thomas said...

I haven't tried it myself, but got some Swedish friends that love it. Go figure..
We have some Norwegian fish dishes that consist of rotten trout. It's called rakfisk:

Translator said...

Wow, that seems interesting, Thomas! I'll have to post on Rakfisk at some point. Thanks for the info!

Gerri said...

I think just threw up in my mouth a little bit...

Translator said...

Argh...Sorry, Gerri!

S.K. WALLER said...

I haven't tried it and I doubt that I ever will. I'll leave that kind of thing to Anthony Bourdain.

Translator said...

Yep, Anthony Bourdain would try it. And Andrew Zimmern wouldn't hesitate to take a taste.

No Reservations and Bizarre Foods are some of my favorite shows on the Travel Channel!

Jaya said...

bacteria laden herring
or rotten trout... just
don't know which one to

Hey, I know, I'll just
have some boring mashed
potatoes instead. Yeah.
Thank you, God, for making
potatoes, in addition to
gross fish foods.

Translator said...

Excellent point, Jaya. Nothing beats a good bowl of mashed potatoes. With lots of gravy!

Crabbie said...

Ewwwwwww...It's just way too early in the morning to even think about, or unfortunately imagine, what this stuff smells like, let alone tastes like.

Translator said...

Yep. I'm starting to think the same way, crabbie. I don't think I'd even want to smell the stuff.

Omega said...

I heard it's pretty nasty from people who were visiting their swedish friends, wouln't want to try it.
My friends were on a bus in Sweden and they said kids carry that stuff around and eat it whenever they feel like my friends witnessed the opening of the can on the bus and said they were dying from the horrifying smell :S

Translator said...

Ugh. That doesn't sound like a fun bus ride. ;p