Swedish Police Shutdown Downtown Area Only To Uncover Scourge of Surströmming

For years I have tried to raise international awareness of the menace of Surströmming, fermented herring. Now, Swedish police has faced the reality of Surströmming terror. The police closed off a whole street after hearing reports of a gas leak only to find a stash of fermented herring.


An army of police, fire trucks and an “emergency gas leak team” descended upon the on the Södermalm building only to find Swedish surströmmingsskiva, their name for Surströmming.

It is described as as a “decidedly non-piquant shark odor . . . resembling “a well fermented urinal on a hot summer’s day.” People first smell it and then, in a rejection of decades of rational actor theory, eat it.

This would make for an interesting nuisance lawsuit when the very smell of your food is making people ill. It certainly diminishes the use and enjoyment of one’s property though the manufacturer could claim that the food is a national tradition and touchstone of Swedish culture. The question is whether the manufacturer should have to use a closed manufacturing system to contain the Surströmming. For private makers of Surströmming, the creation of this dish may be best left to factories in remote locations like the top of Kebnekaise mountain.

As a general rule, I find foods that pass for major gas leaks to be best left on the “do not eat list.” It also explains the failure of those fastfood “Surströmming Shacks” that tried to open around the country.

Source: Register

52 thoughts on “Swedish Police Shutdown Downtown Area Only To Uncover Scourge of Surströmming

  1. I’m pretty sure that stuff is banned by one of the Geneva conventions. If you have not experienced my advice would be to continue that.

  2. Wait — what city? It can’t just be “downtown Sweden” can it?

    BTW, the “big sugary drinks” issue has NY all ears, and there was a sizeable segment on that on the radio (“Radio Free non-New Yorkers channel”) this morning about it. Looks like it will actually pass — but 7-11 is exempt and Starbucks can serve big big lattes, too.

    Idealist, Justagurl, are you two OK? Were you near the fish when they smelled bad?

    Years back my mother was entertaining friends and she wanted me to cook for them (she was handicapped at that time). I phoned them and asked what their favorite food was — they were elderly Jews who had gotten out of Europe just in time before WWII — and they said “cholent.” This was pre-Internet. I did some research and located a recipe for “cholent.” I had to buy a slow cooker to make it. I followed the recipe. The house filled up with the worst odor you can imagine; mom and I were aghast, because the guests would arrive in an hour and that was all there was to serve for dinner and the house could not be aired out so we just pretended everything was OK and I prepared to make an elaborate apology and run out to bring in a pizza or something. They arrived; the doorbell rang; we answered; the two of them stood there and inhaled and looks of transcendant delight settled on their faces and they were overjoyed and they said it was “just like home” and they ate every bit of that gluey repulsive mess! I managed to shove a bit of it down just to be polite and my mom claimed a serious stomach upset and sipped on tea, looking pale.

    Chacun a son gout (forgive misspelling) —
    One man’s Mede is another man’s Persian —

  3. Norwegians have lutefisk..cod dried in LYE!! Now, many cultures dry fish. Italians dry cod and make baccala, a traditional Christmas Eve entree where Italians eat 7 fish entrees. But we dry cod in salt..NOT POISON! You should smell this lutefisk, you would stick your head in a dirty diaper hamper to clear the olfactory senses.

  4. Someone called my name.
    What can I add to such humor and misunderstandings? Hope Gurl get here and hopefully has experienced it as I have.

    I guess you want the humor. The drunken Swedes who open a can on the way to USA flight 007.
    Those stupid enough to open the can indoors.
    However surströmming is serious until the drinking begins.

    It is of course a variant of using bacteria to conserve and change the odor of a food. Small strömming are plentiful in June/July in the Baltic. They are put in a weak salt solution and canned with or without conservation is unclear—probagly without.

    A year later the can is opened, the solution poured away, and the fish are carefully filetted and put on crispy flat bread open face style, are made with raw chopped onion, and a little boiled potato pieces, dill fronds etc.

    Delicious with schappes/vodka. Ice cold. And strong beer. Songs obligatory.

    Songs and schnappes are the only way to get Swedes to loosen up, and they need it often with this climate.

    Glad this came up. Will try some this year. It might be as good as I say it is. My East Europeans friends can try it with my as my guests.

  5. nick spinelli
    1, September 13, 2012 at 10:20 am
    Norwegians have lutefisk..cod dried in LYE!! Now, many cultures dry fish. Italians dry cod and make baccala, a traditional Christmas Eve entree where Italians eat 7 fish entrees. But we dry cod in salt..NOT POISON! You should smell this lutefisk, you would stick your head in a dirty diaper hamper to clear the olfactory senses.
    ——————————
    The North End in Boston has some of the most G*D awful fish stinkiest places on earth….and stacks of those dried Cod on the sidewalks on market day….I have never had it but I understand it makes a lovely tasty dish. And there is also the absolute best Pizza in the Woild….

  6. Nick,

    You give me few opportunities to comment on food, you know more—-BUT!

    It is Norway which air drys cod filets, deboned and deskinned. They get hard as nails, iron ones. The
    italians buy it from Norway and make baccala.

    The Swedes have it to Christmas as a way with cooked grean peas to without fat round off the fatty meal. It is soaked in a weak lye solution to soften it up before cooking.

    Not sure how the italians do. That is your area. !!!!! Don’t the Spaniards do it similarly?

    Let us say it is less odiferous than sursträmming, but without taste, ne pas a mon gout.

  7. “Glad this came up. Will try some this year. It might be as good as I say it is. ” (id707)

    lol

    Gurl from Seattle remarked on one of the past threads that the food in Sweden was boring.

    You and she are the only ones I know who live in Sweden so that is the extent of my knowledge. I know Steve Van Zandt but he talks about Norwegian food and I know better than to get the two confused … maybe.

  8. They don’t know how to do it properly. You have to ferment it slowly, then dilute it and filter it through activated carbon.

  9. Wootsy and ID, Baccala is a simple, peasant dish. Salt dried cod, hand crushed tomatoes, capers, pepper flakes and a little mint if you like. Wootsy, Pizzaria Regina in the North End is tough to beat. My brother was a chef @ Mama Maria in the North End back in the 90’s. It’s a very small, superb restaurant. Many celebrities in town would dine there. His favorite was the late, great Raul Julia. Now, my brother has pedestrian tastes in movies, so when Raul burst into to kitchen singing to thank my brother for a great meal all my bro could say was, “Wow..Gomez Adams!” It turns out Raul’s family were restaurant owners in Puerto Rico. He, my brother and the kitchen staff talked food and drank[on Raul..he and his party were the last diners] till 2AM. This wonderful man died a couple years later.

  10. Blouise,

    I agree with Gurl as to boring, but don’t miss my favorites, have found substitutes, just not always Swedish. Eating Levain bread, olive oil of better class and real parmagiano just now.

    Jusr to bore you, it is nature’s rule. Fewer food stuffs survive in polar climes, so the cuisine is impoveríshed. The norwegians eat whale meat. We don’t. We both love group sex! More variation than the food. Some things taste better than salmon, although smoked is nice.

  11. I knew a Polish girl in Lake Forest. She said she wanted to go back to Turin. Don’t know why. Told her she should probably apply for her green card. She didn’t. Then 9/11 happened. The HR people told her she wasn’t going to be allowed to go back to Europe.

  12. Cholent: Take a little beef (tough cut, or even just FAT!) and red kidney beans, potatoes, barley, garlic, onion, black pepper, salt, gunk, cook it on very slow heat like 225 degrees for something like 12 hours! OMG! Then you try to eat it! I mean, the ingredients are fine if you were to cook them, but when you put them in a pot and punish them for 12 or more hours, I mean ugh… :-(

  13. wow, what wonderful memories you have!

    I remember going in to Reginas…many times we would wait in a line that wrapped around the corner and it was more than worth it….real brick oven (over coals maybe?) and I swear the magic ingredient was the very best olive oil anyone could get….That Pizza is still my personal reference and nothing has ever come close…even in Italy!

    I loved the North end…the best cannolis too! ;)

  14. You guys are killing me with italian food and North End. I’m dying. Not a connisseur, can’t even spell it. But I try. One fun experience was visit to the open air fish market in Venice. Micro shrimps so fresh they were still hopping. Finding a good restaurant was difficult. Most of it was bought by private persons I suspect.

    Ate at top place that evening across from it over a mini-canal bridge. Started mine with a fish version of thin sliced fish with octupus ink sauce. You know of course of the tenderloin version, whose name slips my mine for now.

    My wife, smart woman but dumb Swede, took the deep-fried mixed seafood. I had made the same mistake on th pier at (jeez the brain is giving up)…..the city north of Clint’s Carmel, where Cannary Row is placed
    by John Steinbeck. Monterey!!!

    Anyway, don’t look for genuine anything in Swedish restaurants. Definitely not Italian.
    Swedes love cream sauces and the cooks oblige. Can’t even imaging eating anything north of Turin, and that is a borderline case—although the wine is good there in the valleys. Expensive at times.

  15. Woosty,

    The best canneloni I ever ate was in Napa Valley.
    Came back for supper, and ate it again. Not as good the second version (stuffing and sauce). But I make mistakes like that.

    Never understood the 5 course principal until years later. A few Italian cookbooks helped.

    Thank goodness my warmed up stew is good. I would be drooling otherwise.

    Carpaccio was the word I was looking for above.

    Carpaccio using raw fish meat!!!! Sashimi italian style with olive oil, not soy sauce.

    Only freshly shelled oysters are more sea-tasty.

  16. Wootsy, I learned to always bring a quart of beer in a paper sack waiting on line @ Regina. Here’s something I’ve learned about pizza, Wootsy. I’ve lived in 7 different states in 3 time zones. For virtually everyone the “best” pizza is whatever they grew up eating. Sadly, now it’s a good chance they grew up eating corporate chain pizza. However, I’ve taken a couple close minded midwestern pizza folks to Regina and Wooster St. in New Haven[Frank Pepe and Sally’s] and they “got their minds right” after that. Hell..some people think El Paso is where you eat Italian..to each their own.

  17. ID, Cannelloni is a pasta as you know. Cannoli is it’s dessert cousin. Both stuffed w/ ricotta but the cannoli is a pastry shell instead of pasta and the ricotta flavored w/ chocolate, candied fruit, etc.

  18. idealist707 1, September 13, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Woosty,

    The best canneloni I ever ate was in Napa Valley.
    Came back for supper, and ate it again. Not as good the second version (stuffing and sauce). But I make mistakes like that.
    ========================================
    Add the salad ,the bread, and the beer.

  19. Matt Johnson 1, September 13, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    idealist707 1, September 13, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Woosty,

    The best canneloni I ever ate was in Napa Valley.
    Came back for supper, and ate it again. Not as good the second version (stuffing and sauce). But I make mistakes like that.
    =========================================
    http://www.lovehaight.org/

    Go to a pizza parlor here.

  20. Nick,

    I stand reddening with tomato sauce on my head. I thought it was funny you would ´make a mistake spelling italian food dishes.

    I never look at dessert menus. Decided that an extra glass of wine was better than italian desserts. All finger cakes covered in sweet wine and ricotta to the contrary.

    But cannoli sounds comforting. Never was much of a fruit man, so that’s out. Although if hungry will take a pear and some good cheese.

    I must come over and eat at the places you name.
    Are they still good now? Owners change, etc.

    Chain food? Never, other than an emergency MacD visit. Is NYC still the haven of free enterprise small “subway” shops? Or all chain now? 50 years makes a big difference.

    The hotel I lived in for 6 weeks in ’59 is gone. Stood next to the Taft, which may be gone too. Real estate prices go up, and buildings do higher too.

  21. Matt, have you actually been to Haight? I was there once quite a while ago….it was pretty sad when I was there, looks like it hasn’t changed much….

  22. Woosty,

    Your compliment must be do to my spelling your name correctly. LOL.

    Hugely flattered or you are pulling my leg without my knowing it. Like all fools I do not recognize the latter.

    Yes, I will watch it. Well stocked with delicacies. Unpasteurized french cheeses from a frenchman, exclusive ham from spanish black feet pigs fed only with acorns from my Spaniard from the town with the oldest university in Europe. etc. Some exclusive goose liver demi from Pierre, who married a Swedish lady and runs a small french grocery. And some italian cookies with almonds to dip in sweet Sauterne
    in the fridge now.

    Afterwards I will reflect on the mussels buffet offered by a french realtor who paid our trip to look at their offerings. including a night in Paris near Champs Ulices, as we americans spell and pronounce it.

    It was charmingly offered in a stranded boat wreck which served also as a casino. Les vrais attraction de cotes des mediterranée. Voilá and all that.

    My french girl friend whom Í met in Thailand, Yvette Chaumeau, and who returned to Europe was once employed by a French aristocrat family. Quelle savoir faire! Incroyable. etc etc. How she knew they were, I never asked.

    Arw you salivating? I did not ring the bell yet!

    I got turned on by Babette. Mmmm!

    My first Swedish love did wonderful creme pancakes full of whipped cream. I was too bony she complained.

  23. Matt,

    Seemed to be a good site. Very good Hendrix “Experienced”. Know what I will do tomorrow.

    I was there in H/A after the beatniks and before the hippies. Immigrants from the east looking to recreate an era.

    The story of my life. Mostly personal drama. Shared a few highlights with y’all. List another time.
    You know them all well anyway.

    Bet nobody was in the West Bank one month before the June ’66 war. We CIA guys were setting out radio beacons for guidance of Israeli planes.

    The last sentence is a lie. Smile.

  24. Woosty,

    Have checked it out. Danish with Jarl Kulle as General. Hope I can read the subtitles as understanding Danish is beyond me. And what did Babette speak other than French. Shall see.

    Thanks for the link to the whole film.

  25. this is why when people are discussing where to eat nobody ever says “lets have scandinavian tonight”.

    also you can’t take Surströmming on aircraft because the cans may explode.

  26. My take is this….. now mind you…. I HATE the food here in Sweden… it is my BIGGEST complaint…..

    what can you say about a country that takes FISH…. cures it in LYE…. then has to BURY it for a freaking YEAR!!!!!

  27. justagurlinseattle: “what can you say about a country that takes FISH…. cures it in LYE…. then has to BURY it for a freaking YEAR!!!!!”

    That they live in a very harsh environment and historically had to use extreme food conservation methods to live through the winter.

    Not being harsh Justagurl, I was thinking that all through this thread and your question was the best hook. :-)

    I see that in the food my peasant grandparents brought to America with them and in the root cellars, herbal remedies, foraging habits and salted meats my subsistence farmer grandparents had.

    I like food and read a lot of old cookbooks and watch a lot of period documentaries (mostly British of late) where food, and getting enough of it and through the winter is hard work and ‘iffy’. Peasant food is ubiquitous because that’s who most people were and how most people lived.

    Our refrigerators and modern trade in food is astonishing – a pinnacle of our progress. I eat fresh grapes from Peru at Christmas have fresh fruit and vegetables year round. Just complete proteins in a cut to order, pre-packaged meats and fish array in a straight line of counters (just the ‘fresh’, not even counting frozen) 70 feet long. !!!!!! (Not making any claims about how we raise and manufacture/modify it, just saying its there.) I wonder what would happen if all that disappeared overnight?

    Some of that ‘old’ food is retained as comfort food, touch-stones and I have great respect for that food. But I wouldn’t touch some of if you paid me. :-)

    ***
    Canolli! OMG, I have to drive into the city (the Hill) for the good stuff and I’m overdue, I was thinking about making a run about 10 days ago. Two pings for canolli in less than two weeks must be an omen, I really need to do a canolli run. :-)

  28. Ohhhhhhh what I would GIVE for CANOLI…..

    here they have to make them to suit Swedish taste….
    so they are filled with some lemon crap… or chocolate….
    Ohhhh god… don’t get me started…. :-)

    what you said makes sense… I have NOT thought about it like that before…

    I guess it makes sense now….

    and yeah… I was just thinking about all of the food shortages lately….
    I saw a HORRIBLE video by Paul McCartney about slaughter houses…

    It got me thinking about green farming and cattle raising…. and just how possible it really is, with the population growth and all…..

    It would be terrible if all of a sudden, we had no access to the foods we are used to…..

    and here, I was just mocking that Survivalist Show…. :-D

  29. Lottakatz, I am also into food… I LOVE baking…. and cooking…
    I get cravings for foods all the time…. then I have to make that food….
    a while back, it was bread…. I failed at bread making…. that is my ONLY failure to date….
    lately, I’ve been too sick to cook…. It is driving me crazy…. :-(

  30. justagurlinseattle, I’m sorry to hear that you have been ill, too sick to cook is horrible.

    It got very cool here for about 4 days so on my last visit to the grocery I got some fall-goodie ingredients. I can make chocolate pecan turtles or a Hungarian pecan bread, Retash, which my granny would make and I am very good at making. Also its cousin, poppy-seed Retash. It’s my best bread, I’ve got them nailed but bread in general kind of eludes me. She would also make the classic apple strudel about once a year, an all day job. I could never do it properly. I only helped once and tried it on my own once. It was a stupendous failure. :-(

    I am paralyzed by indecision and a locked up shoulder from persistent bursitis which now requires treatment. Just locked up, very painful, lack of mobility. I WANT TREATS! Homemade treats and cannolis, lots of cannolis. :-)

    Get well soon.

  31. Why do I have to sleep? You have fun then.

    JAG, what are you doing up at 5 AM swedush time? Early riser. Hope it was not the pain. Enjoyed your comments,
    Scandinavian night? Guess you’ve all never experienced a Christmas buffet. Very dependent on quality of ingredients and preparation, otherwise a grease orgy.
    Guaranteed indigestion.

    If Babette could fix one then I would be content. If she can cook so well, how must she not be as a companion?

    Thanks for asking. My boobs are fine after exam, even a cytological tissue examination.

  32. Lotta,

    Re bursitis, what does the doc say? Would he approve a physiotherapist treatment? I am getting help now with my back pains by one and it helps. But no -itis, ie inflammation.

    Otherwise, a good acupuncture person who is well versed in all variants helped me out after 3 months shoulder inflammation. Doc gave no diagnosis, just said inflammation and find therapist. After 2 failures I found a good one.

    “The stars I have seen. You would never belleve it.
    “Bladerunner”

  33. justagurlinseattle
    1, September 13, 2012 at 11:12 pm
    Lottakatz, I am also into food… I LOVE baking…. and cooking…
    I get cravings for foods all the time…. then I have to make that food….
    a while back, it was bread…. I failed at bread making…. that is my ONLY failure to date….
    lately, I’ve been too sick to cook…. It is driving me crazy….
    ————————
    I’m sorry you don’t feel well… I have a nasty thing called fibromyalgia so I can relate a bit. BUT lately I have been so into making Artisan bread…..it is very easy and the results are usually as tasty a s anything….and no kneading required!
    (and no unknown ingredients and nasty toxins…)

    http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/

    In South Florida I have found NO decent Canolis….I haven’t had one for years….sometimes when I sleep I wake up drooly and I know I’ve been dreaming about tasty things….

  34. nick spinelli: “lotta, Are you a Cards fan?”

    No, but like the other city taxpayers I did help pay for a couple of stadiums for our ex-baseballers before they- their owner actually- bailed for a sweeter deal the (*insert word no longer allowed on the blawg*) and our footballers.

  35. Woosty, that’s a nice bread site, yummmmm, hot homemade bread.

    Malisha, 31 times! LOL, I don’t have enough time left in my life for that many failures on the way to a success. :-)

    You must make a seriously great challah by now, I bet it’s a real treat.

  36. I’ve never smelt surströmming. I wonder how it compares with two abominations I encountered in South Korea:

    * Dried squid, which smells so bad it is banned from indoor buildings except restaurants. Even people who like to eat it hate the smell when others around them eat it.

    * Bbeondaegi, the boiled maggots of silkworms. Yes, people eat it, and the smell combines the worst parts of rotting beef and a septic tank.

  37. idealist707 1, September 13, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    Matt,

    Seemed to be a good site. Very good Hendrix “Experienced”. Know what I will do tomorrow.

    I was there in H/A after the beatniks and before the hippies. Immigrants from the east looking to recreate an era.

    The story of my life. Mostly personal drama. Shared a few highlights with y’all. List another time.
    You know them all well anyway.

    Bet nobody was in the West Bank one month before the June ’66 war. We CIA guys were setting out radio beacons for guidance of Israeli planes.

    The last sentence is a lie. Smile.
    ==========================
    Went there a few times. All very polite, but it wasn’t my reality.

    I went to an apartment in San Francisco with a Navy guy who was reenlisting. A Machinist’s Mate. One of the males threatened to stab me. Didn’t take it serious. One of the girls asked me if I liked her friend. I said yeah, she’s cute. Then I had to leave.

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