Tuesday, August 02, 2005

some people will eat any old tripe

"I've found very little that was actually beyond the boundary of the edible. One example was the Swedish dish surströmming. This is herring that is 'preserved' in salt water but has started to rot. You buy surströmming in cans that bulge slightly because of the continuing 'fermentation' process. It is always prepared and served outdoors because, although it looks like normal herring, it smells quite startlingly of shit. Once, while staying in Sweden, I served it to some of my relations who had often spoken of the dish but never actually eaten it. Before opening the can you have to bang a nail into it to release the pressure. I did so and was hit in the face by a miniature geyser of shit-smelling spray. After having a shower, I opened the can and served the fish in the traditional way, on a soft, thin bread with chopped red onion and sour cream. According to strict local tradition, we drank milk with it. Did it taste like shit? I don't know. I've never eaten shit. But shit certainly could taste like that. Having ingested a surströmming sandwich each, we all discovered an unexpected effect. The fermentation process continued in our stomachs, and we all began to burp uncontrollably. Having eaten shit, we were now farting through our mouths."

- Sean French, from Granta, some years ago

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