Surströmming (fermented Baltic Sea herring) has become famous on social media over recent years as Sweden’s famously disgusting food.
Every country is supposed to have a disgusting or strange food – for example haggis from Scotland, Casu marzu (maggot-infested cheese) from Sardinia, Durian from Thailand, mopani worms from southern Africa, kopi luwak coffee made from civet cat faeces.
The enjoyment of many foods is cultural and often very meaningful (for example poi in Hawaii) to local people. When offered one of these dishes in the past, I have always tried it, if it would have been impolite to refuse. Surströmming however, remains a big nope from me. As do Chines rat and spider skewers and mouse wine
I will, however, eat goat, walkie talkies and smileys, liver, kidneys, tripe and offal because I grew up with them. I have also never wanted to refuse what people offered me, because sometimes they used every penny they had to feed their guests and went without themselves.
Surströmming to me, thought, is the most disgusting food out there. So foul that the (often blown up) tins cannot be opened inside, or carried on the planes of at least six airlines. German food critic Wolfgang Fassbender wrote: the biggest challenge when eating surströmming is to vomit only after the first bite, as opposed to before.
There have been challenges on social media – such as this one – to eat surströmming.
[This is not too graphic but there is some retching. I suffer from emetophobia and it did not bother me but if you are worried, perhaps skip it]
Interestingly, there is a Disgusting Food Museum in Malmö Sweden, where you can try these very divisive foods in a safe environment. I instinctively shy away from the thought of trying ‘disgusting foods’ but maybe that is the survival instinct in me trying to keep me alive!
So — does your country have any foods that foreigners find strange? Have you ever tried a famously disgusting food?