It’s the time of year again when some Swedes eat rotten fish. Yes, rotten.
It’s called Surströmming. It’s fish in a can that has been allowed to ferment at least 6 months. It has been described as “of the most putrid food smells in the world”. You are not allowed to eat it inside your apartment building. It must be eaten outside because of the awful smell. Then people try to cover it up with bread and potatoes and drink schnapps to get rid of the horrible taste.
This has gone on since the 1600s when this was provided as army rations during the 30 years war. If you gave those soldiers from the 1600s the choice of their canned rotted fish or a decent burger, I don’t think they would ever touch fish again. I fail to see why this is a “tradition.”
I try my best to fit in my new culture, but this is the main place where I have to draw the line. It’s not happening. Rotted fish was not on the immigration form. I’ll eat your salmon, your meatballs and your cloudberries, but surströmming will never happen.