back to article Swedish cops contain fermented herring menace

Swedish cops who rushed last Saturday to a block of flats in Stockholm after concerned residents alerted emergency services of a possible gas leak, found that the tremendous whiff was actually down to fermented herring. Officers backed by two fire trucks and an "emergency gas leak team" swooped on the Södermalm building's …


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  1. Arctic fox

    Rubbish, that stuff is for wossies.

    "Lutefisk" is the real deal. (Basically rotten cod treated with sodium hydroxide). Once tasted, never forgotten.

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Rubbish, that stuff is for wossies.

      Don't forget to wash each morsel down with a bottle of aquavit, one of the other good uses for potatoes.

    2. BongoJoe

      Re: Rubbish, that stuff is for wossies.

      Having suffeed lutefisk once I can only present you with an Up-post.

  2. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Sounds even worse than durian fruit

    Eating durian fruit has been described as being like eating the food of the gods with your head over an open sewer.

    Normally I am quite happy to try local dishes, but some local dishes are local for a very simple reason: nobody else in their right mind would consider eating it. Alternatively, the locals are masochists on a diet (to quote Arthur Dent speaking to a nutrimatic machine). I think I will give this Swedish "delicacy" a pass.

    1. Thecowking

      Re: Sounds even worse than durian fruit

      Durian is delicious, so delicious that I am actually scheduling my holiday next year to Malaysia to coincide with the Durian season.

      God I love that fruit. The smell actually makes me hungry now.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Sounds even worse than durian fruit

        You can get fresh Durian here in Bristol if you know where to look. You can usually smell them when you go in through the door of the shop I'm thinking of. I suspect other large cities also have their sources...

        1. Nigel 11

          Re: Sounds even worse than durian fruit

          I thought Durians were banned as cargo by every airline on the planet? Or has someone purchased a jet for the sole purpose of moving loads of Durian around the planet?

          1. SW
            Thumb Up

            Re: Sounds even worse than durian fruit

            Ah, that brings back memories of Malaysia, me sitting there with a nice ripe Durian ready to chow down on it - the wife running around in circles with a cloth over her face desperately trying not to throw-up.


            Why did I eat it - same answer as why we climb mountains - machoism and because it was there !

          2. cortland

            Re: Sounds even worse than durian fruit

            No, that's nuoc mam. If I could be sure (really sure) a squirt-bottle couldn't leak, I'd use that instead of pepper spray. Would mark the sprayee right well, it would.

      2. Gordon 8

        Re: Sounds even worse than durian fruit

        You must be mad.

        I live in Singapore and the smell makes me want to puke. It's foul

  3. John Hawkins

    Stinks a bit but is good eating

    I normally keep mine in the fridge for a couple of years or so to mature, I've got four tins there at moment. A tin should be opened in a bucket of water to stop it spitting in your eye. And outside of course; opening tins of it inside building is for tourists and amateurs. Presumably it was one such person who was responsible for the alert in question.

    1. Arctic fox

      Re: "A tin should be opened in a bucket of water to stop it spitting in your eye. "

      Pardon? It should be opened in a glovebox under argon - unless you wish to trigger a bio-weapons alert.

    2. Suburban Inmate

      Re: Stinks a bit but is good eating

      "opening tins of it inside building is for tourists and amateurs and teh lulz."

      FTFY! (obvious icon)

    3. John Diffenthal

      Re: Stinks a bit but is good eating

      I thought the whole point was to keep it at room temperature so that it "matures" faster!

      As for opening it under water - that's for wimps. Opening the tin outdoors (after the lid has risen the requisite 2cm) does send flies and mosquitoes seeking other less smelly locales which at least reduces some of the other risks of eating outside during the swedish summertime.

  4. Rogueywon

    Who's for Kiviak?

    These fermented fish dishes are for wimps. Real men eat Kiviak. Hundreds of sea-birds left to ferment inside the buried, hollowed-out carcass of a seal.

    What's not to like?

  5. Maverick

    surströmming ?

    didn't see either of them eating it, there again it would have cleared the restaurant

    those lot do eat some weird stuff over there

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: surströmming ?

      didn't see either of them eating it

      That's because the clip is about Ramsay and May eating hákarl, which is one of the other foods restricted under the Geneva Convention on Chemical Warfare.

      Reading the last two paragraphs would have made this clear.

  6. Jim Carter

    Ah, surströmming.

    I know of a British chap who once got a ripe surströmming fart right up his nose. Suffice to say his stomach wasn't full for very long.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surströming - a timed bio-weapon!

    Surströming keeps fermenting in the tin so ... if one happens to forget about an unopened tin somewhere it will pop and spray the surroundings with smelly goo. This sometimes surprise people.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Surströming - a timed bio-weapon!

      How long are we talking? Months or years?

      A nicely placed in in the false ceiling of the bosses office may nice. Replaced by a 'fresh' tin every so often so it doesn't go off while I still work here.

      Hell, it doesn't even need to be in his office, anywhere would have the same effect.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Surströming - a timed bio-weapon!

        Isn't there a danger of botulism??

    2. Mike Richards

      Re: Surströming - a timed bio-weapon!

      Cans of surströmming are banned on flights for all too-obvious reasons.

      Well-prepared hákarl can clear a restaurant. This summer a friend (foolishly) wanted to try it. Despite my protestations, and those of the restaurant owner - who said 'it's terrible!' he got his half dozen cubes of shark, picked one up on a cocktail stick and started chewing, and chewing and chewing - because not only is it appalling to taste and to smell - it has the consistency of an insole. Then the horror began, one cube fell from the cocktail stick and bounced on to the floor (and my how it bounced). You know those movies where the hand grenade rolls through a room with people diving to avoid the blast until the hero throws themself on it and grabs the lever? Like that except replace 'hand grenade' with 'shark' and 'hero' with 'plucky Icelandic waitress'.

      There is something even worse, the Icelandic festival of Þorláksmessa (23rd December) features picked putrefying skate topped off with hamsatólg - melted sheep fat. Many of those who chow down on hákarl, wolf down the sheep's testicles and think nothing of sucking on the eyeball in a half-sheep's head refuse to try the skate.

      1. TractorBoy
        Thumb Up

        Re: Surströming - a timed bio-weapon!

        Like that except replace 'hand grenade' with 'shark' and 'hero' with 'plucky Icelandic waitress'. - what a beautiful picture you paint, I'm laughing like it's Friday

  8. NorthernCoder

    When Jamie Oliver did a tour of Sweden, he was also invited to a surströmmingsskiva (held outdoors, as previously noted is the right way).

    IIRC, he said about the same thing as most people do, it smells horrible, but once you eat the surströmming rather than just sniff it, it is quite enjoyable.

    I for one prefer my herrings pickled. Accompanied by Skåne Akvavit.

    1. Arctic fox
      Thumb Up

      @NorthernCoder Re:"I for one prefer my herrings pickled. Accompanied by Skåne Akvavit."

      Ah yes, now we are talking. Sursild, sennepsild, tomatsild and any number of other delicious local recipes/versions - and they don't stink! I have say though that my choice of beverage to go with them is Trondheim Jubileum Akvavit (ice cold for my personal preference), the combination with the aforementioned delicacies is "snadder" as they say up here.

  9. CCCP

    With sliced and boiled, new potatoes on buttered crisp tunnbröd


    Surströmming has a slightly sweet taste. As noted, once you ignore the stench, it tastes delicious. It does take a little practice separating your olfactory from your gustatory sensations.

    (Tunnbröd is Swedish flatbread and comes in crisp and soft varieties. Traditionally it is baked and eaten in the northern half of the country.)

    Everyone knows Swedish pirates love surströmming.

  10. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Too much Asterix!

    I remember the catastrophic consequence of opening a Corsican Cheese in the hold of a pirate ship... gas emissions resulting in poisoning of bystanders and subsequent conflagration through contact with an open flame.

  11. Aleksander Kamenik
    Thumb Down

    not for my tastes

    I just tried the fish a month ago with several folks. Somebody had brought the contraband from Sweden.

    Some couldn't stand the smell at all and had to stand away when the can was finally opened. You can't open it with a normal opener, they use thicker metal. Otherwise it would blow up on its own.

    I did try eating it, but could not get myself to push it down the throat. As soon as I tried moving it down my tongue there was a gag reflex. Couldn't say it tasted any good either. Some tried several pieces, no fans though.

    Remarkably vodka tasted like water afterwards. Good idea to disinfect your mouth.

    Maybe they meant it smelt like gas in the sense of passing gas?

  12. Trygve

    What on earth?

    This story honestly baffles me. Surstromming smells like a blocked drain, nothing like mains gas.

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