SHARE
COPY LINK

SURSTRÖMMING

WATCH: Spaniards try Swedish fermented herring, with hilarious results

If there is one thing that never gets old it's watching foreigners tackle Sweden's fermented herring delicacy surströmming. Now it's Spain's turn, after one of the country's most popular TV programmes asked a few locals to test the smelly fish for the first time.

WATCH: Spaniards try Swedish fermented herring, with hilarious results
Surströmming served the traditional way. Photo: Susanne Lindholm/TT

“El Hormiguero” (The Anthill) has been a stalwart of Spanish screens since 2006, forging a reputation for its experimental and scientific segments. This week, things took a Scandinavian twist as a group of lucky contestants were given the chance to taste surströmming: herring plucked out of the Baltic Sea then subjected to an ancient preservation method where it's stored for months to stew in its own bacteria.

“To carry out the filming, the production staff wore masks to eliminate the smell,” the narrator advises rather dramatically at the start of the video, setting the tone.

“Do you like fish?” he asks. “Yes, yes! Always, more than meat,” a participant replies enthusiastically.

His enthusiasm soon wanes however: as the cans are opened and the liquid inside sprays out it is met with cries of “It smells so bad!”, “Uff… what is this?!” and “Awful. You're sure this isn't out of date? Absolutely certain?”

And when the juices spray the face of the woman sitting next to him, another participant says something we absolutely can't translate into English (in Spain they're a bit more liberal when it comes to swearing). Keep in mind the Spaniards haven't even tasted the stuff yet.

READ MORE: Ten delicious Spanish delicacies to try before you die

One contestant, Diego, puts a brave face on it, taking a bite as a woman watches on in horror then deliberates for several minutes over whether she will do the same.

“I can't, I'm really sorry…”

“Yes I can.”

“I can't get close to it, I'm sorry.”

“A tiny bit, I'm going to try… Come on then! Give it some balls!”

After waving the fish back and forth in front of her mouth pitifully, the woman then finally takes a bite, only for her body to reject it, to say the least. Cue montage.

“Of the eight contestants, six were sick,” a caption card explains. “Along with part of the production team,” it adds, noting that even the office dog turned the fish down.

READ ALSO: What you need to know before trying Swedish fermented herring

When El Hormiguero asked a Swede to do it, his reaction was quite different.

“Lucky! There's caviar in here!” the Swede beams in delight while putting the smelly fish in his mouth before chewing it and adding “brilliant”.

Ruben Madsen, the foremost expert on the food and self-proclaimed 'Surströmming king' was not impressed with Spanish TV's take on the local treasure.

“I watched the video and they're doing everything wrong: the cultural illiteracy is evident! Unfortunately,” Madsen told The Local.

“Surströmming should be served like the delicacy it is. The can should be cold and not stored in the heat, it should be opened correctly and with the right tools. It shouldn't be eaten whole, but filleted. It should be eaten with various accompaniments like potato, onion, crème fraîche, tomato, and also bread, cheese and dill,” he explained.

“I've served surströmming thousands of times in Sweden, Finland, Norway, England, Denmark, Japan, Russia, Greenland and Iceland, and it has always been praised or received positively,” Madsen concluded.

The surströmming proponent would likely be just as unimpressed with The Local Sweden team, who ate the fish straight from the can last summer, filming the experience for posterity.

READ ALSO: Swedish agencies hit with stinky fermented herring attack

For members

FOOD & DRINK

Five sweet treats you should be able to identify if you live in Sweden

Do you know your biskvi from your bakelse? Your chokladboll from your kanelbulle? Here's a guide guaranteed to get your mouth watering.

Five sweet treats you should be able to identify if you live in Sweden

Kanelbulle

The most famous of all Swedish cakes outside Sweden, the classic kanelbulle (cinnamon bun) is the symbol of Sweden abroad, no doubt helped by the fact that Swedish furniture giants IKEA stock frozen buns in their food stores for customers to bake off at home.

Forget American tear-apart cinnamon rolls baked in a pan and slathered with cream cheese frosting: a classic Swedish cinnamon bun is baked individually using a yeasted dough spread with cinnamon sugar and butter. The dough is then rolled up, sliced into strips which are then stretched out and knotted into buns, baked, glazed with sugar syrup and sprinkled with pearl sugar.

Home-made varieties skip the stretching and knotting step, rolling the cinnamon-sprinkled dough into a spiral instead which, although less traditional, tastes just as good.

Kanelbullar in Sweden often include a small amount of Sweden’s favourite spice: cardamom. If you’re a fan of cardamom, try ordering the kanelbulle‘s even more Swedish cousin, the kardemummabulle or cardamom bun, which skips the cinnamon entirely and goes all-out on cardamom instead.

Sweden celebrates cinnamon bun day (kanelbullens dag) on October 4th.

Photo: Lieselotte van der Meijs/imagebank.sweden.se

Chokladboll

A great option if you want a smaller cake for your fika, the chokladboll or ‘chocolate ball’ is a perfect accompaniment to coffee – some recipes even call for mixing cold coffee into the batter.

They aren’t baked and are relatively easy to make, meaning they are a popular choice for parents (or grandparents) wanting to involve children in the cake-making process.

Chokladbollar are a simple mix of sugar, oats, melted butter and cocoa powder, with the optional addition of vanilla or coffee, or occasionally rum extract. They are rolled into balls which are then rolled in desiccated coconut (or occasionally pearl sugar), and placed in the fridge to become more solid.

Some bakeries or cafés also offer dadelbollar or rawbollar/råbollar (date or raw balls), a vegan alternative made from dried dates and nuts blended together with cocoa powder.

Chocolate ball day (chokladbollens dag) falls on May 11th.

Photo: Magnus Carlsson/imagebank.sweden.se

Prinsesstårta

The lime-green prinsesstårta or ‘princess cake’ may look like a modern invention with it’s brightly-coloured marzipan covering, but it has been around since the beginning of the 1900s, and is named after three Swedish princesses, Margareta, Märta and Astrid, who were supposedly especially fond of the cake.

The cake consists of a sponge bottom spread with jam, crème pâtissière and a dome of whipped cream, covered in green marzipan and some sort of decoration, often a marzipan rose.

Prinsesstårtor can also be served in individual portions, small slices of a log which are then referred to as a prinsessbakelse.

Although the cakes are popular all year round, in the Swedish region of Småland, prinsesstårta is eaten on the first Thursday in March, due to this being the unofficial national day of the Småland region (as the phrase första torsdagen i mars is pronounced fössta tossdan i mass in the Småland dialect).

Since 2004, the Association of Swedish Bakers and Confectioners has designated the last week of September as prinsesstårtans vecka (Princess cake day).

Photo: Sinikka Halme, Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0.

Budapestbakelse

Belonging to the more traditional cakes, a Budapestbakelse or “Budapest slice” is a type of rulltårta or “roll cake” similar to a Swiss roll, consisting of a light and crispy cake made from whipped egg whites, sugar and hazelnut, filled with whipped cream and fruit, often chopped conserved peaches, nectarines or mandarines, and rolled into a log.

The log is then sliced into individual portions and drizzled with chocolate, then often topped with whipped cream and a slice of fruit. 

Despite its name, the Budapest slice has nothing to do with the city of Budapest – it was supposedly invented by baker Ingvar Strid in 1926 and received the name due to Strid’s love for the Hungarian capital.

Of course, the Budapestbakelse also has its own day – May 1st.

Kanelbullar (left), chokladbollar (centre) and biskvier (right). Photo: Tuukka Ervasti/imagebank.sweden.se

Biskvi

Another smaller cake, a biskvi (pronounced like the French biscuit), consists of an almond biscuit base, covered in buttercream (usually chocolate flavoured), and dark chocolate.

Different variants of biskvier exist, such as a Sarah Bernhardt, named after the French actress of the same name, which has chocolate truffle instead of buttercream.

You might also spot biskvier with white chocolate, often with a hallon (raspberry) or citron (lemon) filling, or even saffransbiskvier around Christmastime.

Chokladbiskviens dag is celebrated on November 11th.

SHOW COMMENTS