Archive for April, 2013

“Sir, Inda thanni, kanni, su…”


Surströmming, inda pazhakkam ellam illenga.”

“Oh, why the pause vittu punch dialouge?”

Courtesy Karthi and Santhanam in Saguni.

So, coming to the story, I was in Sweden a couple of months ago, to meet one of my mad-ass-scientist-in-the-making friend at Uppsala. To help me get a comprehensive Swedish experience, he recommended 3-activites:

1. You should go to IKEA

Yeah, the Swedish giant who has pretty much changed the concept of furnishing worldwide. So I spent three hours of my Uppsala visit to go look at living rooms, dining rooms, toilets, and stuff, at the end of which I spent a good hundred krona on random things (thanks to miscalulating EUR-SKK conversion rates).

2. You should play innebandy

Enna vandi? Inne-bandy. A famed swedish sport. It’s apparently called floorball in English, and my understanding is that it is a basketballed version of hockey using a plastic ball with holes. It was fun, super-exhausting, and made me realise I need to work out to stay fit. Oh yeah, getting fit is another post to be.

3. Eat Surströmming

Surströmming is a traditional Swedish dish. Made of fermented fish. One of the mysteries of life. My understanding says that it’s probably the most foul smelling thing known to mankind, thanks to a great melange of butyric, propionic, acetic acids and good ‘ol H2S. It seems it is opened submerged in water so that the smell doesn’t fill the place. In fact, if there were ever a contest of worst-smelling-food, Surströmming would bag the gold:

Surströmming bags the gold, followed by Japan's Kusaya and Korea's Hongeohoe.

Surströmming wins gold, miles ahead of Japan’s Kusaya and Korea’s Hongeohoe.

The history to Surströmming goes back a long way. One cool myth is that the Fins played a long con on the Swedes:

Swedish sailors go out with fish not preserved properly (low Sodium diet, let’s say). They go to Finalnd, and think they’d sell it off to them. The fins buy it, patiently wait a year, and when the sailors returned, they said “hey guys, you got more of that stinky fish? We really loved it! We want more!!” And since then the Swedish people have been liking it. What I wonder is, did these dumbass* Swedish sailors ever see the Fins eat it? I presume the Finnish people responded to the sailors on the first of April, giving an explanation to the French phrase, poisson d’avril, quite literally.

So the more important point: no, I didn’t eat the darned thing. I love my life too much to just throw it away on pungent food. I know my Swedish experience is and will always be incomplete, but I can live with that. Amen!

P.S.: I put up a humble request to The Oatmeal to make a poster out of this. I sincerely hope that he can able to make a kickass infogram out of it.

*I only feel that these Swedish sailors from the myth are dumbasses, and the term is by no means a generalisation to Swedish people. I like Sweden and Swedish folks – they’re some of the most innovative people I’ve seen, but these sailors are just douchebags.


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