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SWEDEN

Stinky herring tin to be ‘disarmed’ after 25 years

A fermented herring expert has been called to help "disarm" a 25-year-old can of the odorous Swedish delicacy that managed to literally raise the roof of a cabin in northern Norway.

Stinky herring tin to be 'disarmed' after 25 years
The can of surströmming in the picture is not the one mentioned in the article. File photo: Wrote/Flickr

"If there's any fish left in the can, I'm going to eat it," Ruben Madsen of Sweden's Surströmming Academy told The Local.

Madsen is set to travel to a cabin in the Norwegian mountains next week to help "disarm" a recently discovered can of fermented herring dating from 1990.

Cabin owner Inge Haugen found the forgotten can after peeking under the eaves to find a swelling can of surströmming that had been expanding over the past two and half decades. He reckoned the bulging tin had raised the cabin's roof by about two centimetres.

The find left him concerned that the can might explode at any moment, prompting him to warn his neighbours. Norway's Armed Forces were also notified about the impending "stink bomb".

Surströmming, or fermented herring, is a traditional Swedish delicacy, but its odour is notoriously foul. In the beginning of autumn, it’s not uncommon for Swedes to gather to enjoy the smelly fish at what is called a surströmmingsskiva (fermented herring party).

Such parties are less common in Norway, which boasts its own fermented fish dish, known as rakfisk, which most often consists of trout that has been salted and fermented for several months.

Haugen's wife Bjørg told The Local that the can was forgotten during one particular festive evening back in March 1990 when the couple hosted a party at their cabin, located in Trysil, with surströmming imported from Sweden.

"We had three cans. We ate two and my husband took the third and put it up under the roof, because we had eaten enough. Then he forgot about it," she said. "There's going to be a gruesome smell."

Despite initial fears expressed by Haugen and others, surströmming expert Madsen said the aging can of herring poses no danger to the public.

"There really isn't any risk for an explosion. Of course, some fermented herring might come spurting out when we open it. And yes, it will smell," he said.

News of a "disarmament" event planned for February 18th has attracted wide media attention across Sweden and Norway, with hundreds of people having notified Haugen they plan to attend.

"There are going to be more people there than there were at Barack Obama's inauguration," Madsen said with a laugh before theorizing about what lies behind the "unbelievable" media attention generated by Haugen's quarter-century old can of fish.

"It might be because there is an actual story behind this can of forgotten herring. It might also be that people are craving a simple, positive story."

Madsen explained that he gets "two or three calls a year" from people who have found old cans of fermented herring and don't know what to do with them.

However, the discovery of the can in Norway has the fermented herring aficionado's mouth watering at the prospect of tasting surströmming that's been aged to perfection over the past 25 years.

"I have my own collection of vintage surströmming with several cans that are more than 15 years old," he said.

"The taste certainly gets richer with age. The longer you wait to open a can, the more complex the flora of tastes you get."

Madsen invoked a musical analogy to compare the richness of aged surströmming to that eaten right off the shelf.

"Think of the difference between Wagner and Chopin," he explained.

"With Wagner, you get hit repeatedly with the same tones. But with Chopin, you can hear every instrument, every tone. It's a much more complex sound, which is much like the richer taste you get with an aged can of fermented herring."

Madsen's biggest fear about his upcoming Norway herring adventure is finding there's no fish left in the 25-year-old can.

"The biggest risk is that the fish never stopped fermenting and all that's left is a can of smelly sauce," he said.

But even if there's no fish left in Haugen's herring tin, Madsen plans to bring along a few newer cans of surströmming so the hundreds of onlookers on hand can get a taste for themselves.

"After we open the can it's going to party, party," he said.

DON'T MISS: Sweden's Big Macs taunt Norwegians at border

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DISCOVER NORWAY

Where are Norway’s Michelin star restaurants?

Norway is home to four new Michelin-starred restaurants following the recent publication of the Nordic Countries Guide for 2022. These are all the Norwegian restaurants to receive a star in the Michelin Guide. 

Where are Norway’s Michelin star restaurants?

Four new Norwegian restaurants received Michelin stars when the Nordic Countries Guide for 2022 was published this week. 

Scandinavia’s cooking elite gathered in Stavanger on Monday to award this year’s stars and individual honours for chefs in the Nordics. 

Three of the new stars awarded were given to restaurants in Oslo, while the other star was given to an eatery in Bergen, taking the number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the city on Norway’s west coast to two. 

One of the newcomers, Hot Shop, named after the former sex shop the building used to house, is located on Københavngata street in east Oslo. The canteen-style bistro serves tasting menus based on seasonal, local ingredients, which the Michelin Guide describes as “elegant, vibrant and technically adept, with delicate touches and real depth of flavour”. 

Schlägergården in Lilleaker, on the eastern outskirts of Oslo, was also awarded its first star. However, it was the fourth time restaurant manager Bjørn Svensson had received a star for one of his restaurants. The restaurant is in a converted 18th-century farmhouse with a set menu consisting of local produce, some foraged, grown, or preserved by the eatery’s staff. 

Michelin describes the food there as “pure, expertly crafted dishes which have bold, emotive flavours”.

Located right on the border of Grünerløkka and St. Hanshaugen in central Oslo is Hyde, the third restaurant in the capital to receive its first Michelin star this year. The guide credits the service and “laid-back, lively atmosphere” as major pulls for the restaurants.

Over on Norway’s west coast, Lysverket in Bergen was awarded a Michelin star. The eatery serves up creative, modern takes on Norwegian dishes accompanied by craft cocktails. The restaurant is housed in an art museum with the menus showcasing “intelligently crafted, balanced dishes”. 

The other restaurant in Oslo, boasting a glowing review from the Michelin guide, was Maaemo, which retained its three Michelin star status. The new Nordic cuisine behemoth focused on organic and biodynamic produce is located in the heart of Oslo on Dronning Eufamas gate street.

A few other chefs and restaurants received accolades at this year’s presentation. Heidi Bjerkan took home two awards, the first for excellent service at her sustainable Michelin-starred restaurant Credo. One of her other restaurants, Jossa Mat og Drikke, won a green star, given to eatery’s that excel in sustainable operations. 

A Norwegian, Jimmy Øien, scooped the award for the best young chef. Øien is the chef at Rest located on Kirkegat in Central Oslo and holds a green star for sustainable practices. The menu heavily emphasises using imperfect produce, which other places may otherwise discard. 

Several restaurants also retained their status. Renaa, with its kitchen located in the heart of the restaurant, has two Michelin stars and is commended by the guide for the quality of its Norwegian seafood dishes and the bread it produces at a nearby bakery. 

The 2022 guide also includes Kontrast (Oslo), Statholdergaarden (Oslo) , Under (Lindesnes), the biggest underwater restaurant in the world, Sabi Omakase (Stavanger), Bare (Bergen), FAGN (Trondheim), Credo (Trondheim) and Speilsalen (Trondheim), which all have one Michelin star.

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