Let’s face it: While the majority of our foods makes you want to dance across a Swedish meadow, naked and with joy in your Viking heart, not all of our culinary creations please people from outside Scandinavia.
Fermented herring in a tin. It’s a delicacy and yes, people get excited about Surströmming season and have smelly parties where people get together and eat what is basically rotten fish. When you open the pressurised tin (and only ever do so outside), the smell is so bad you feel sick. Oh, but did we mention it tastes delicious?
Also banned by all airlines –even in checked in luggage. No, don’t try it.
2. Salmiakki salty Liquorice
We Nordics have a great love of salt – and people say this stems from our food heritage of many salted foods. Most of us grow up eating liquorice so salty it makes grown British men cry tears and beg for mercy. Getting unsuspecting foreigners to try ‘Djungelvrål’ or ‘Tyrkisk Peber’ is a favourite pastime of ours.
Salmiakki is the Finnish word for ‘Ammonium Chloride’, which is a type of salt.
3. Prawn cheese
We love combining things. Prawns? Good. Cheese? Good. ‘Prawn cheese’ must then, by definition, be good.
Actually, it really is. Don’t believe us? Try it. It comes in a tube, as nature intended.
4. Wormwood aquavit.
It’s strong, incredibly bitter and not very pleasant, really. In the 10-pack of Swedish mini bottles of Aquavit there is one of them called ‘Bäska Droppar’ – we usually pass this one to foreigners, to see their reaction. Try to avoid it if you can.
5. Salmiakki Vodka
We gave the Salmiakki liquorice flavoured vodka shots a category all on its own. Crush a bag of Tyrkisk Peber sweets, add to a bottle of vodka. Pop the lid back on, leave for a week, turning occasionally. Shake before use, serve chilled in shots. Can also be store bought.
Literally, ‘old cheese’.
A Norwegian cheese that could be stored for long periods of time without refrigeration. Instructions on how to make it include helpful suggestions such as “take some cheese, stuff it in an old sock bury it in the manure under the barn and when it is ready it will crawl out”. Also known as the cheese of the Vikings, the Gamalost is strong, smelly and a very acquired taste.
True to form, we like to have Gamalost parties and sing songs about how much we love Gamalost.
Not dissimilar to Surströmming, Rakfish is fermented char or trout. The fish is eaten raw in a wrap after a good three months of fermentation. Stinks. A lot. What do you expect? It’s rotten fish.
So strong it deserves a place in here even if Iceland is not part of Scandinavia.
How would you like a bit of fermented shark? This is a very good guide.
9. Hotdog topped with prawns.
Hotdogs? Good. Prawns? Good. Well, Norwegians and Swedes love nothing more than topping their hotdog with a good dollop of prawn mayonnaise salad.
Why? Told you. Prawns? GOOD. Hotdogs? GOOD. Get with it, people. It just works.
Our favourite is Smalahove, simply because of the look. In Norway, you can get a boiled sheep’s head, on a plate. No effort has been made to make it look anything but like what it is. A boiled head. It is tradition to start with the eyes. Yes, the eyes.
Bon Appetit, folks.