Wednesday, August 4, 2010
"They Actually Eat That:" Lutefisk.
This is probably WAY off, but I think I prefer "Pretty Green Onions." Or "Caramelldansen."
So you like fish, but you don't like the possibility of getting tapeworms, mercury, or other types of food poisoning. Luckily for you, the creative people in Scandanavia (Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark) have found a way to clean up your food.
This was once a fish.
They call it 'lutefisk.' It is, in short, whitefish preserved in a substance called lye. This makes the fish taste "slippery," and also cuts down the protein content by about 50%. The end result is more jelly-like than the fresh fish found in sushi.
They actually eat that?
Yep. Brace yourselves for some serious fridge horror.
I looked up exactly what "lye" was. This was what I found, as per Wikipedia:
"Lye is a corrosive alkaline substance, commonly sodium hydroxide (NaOH, also known as 'caustic soda') or historically potassium hydroxide (KOH, from hydrated potash)."
"Both solid dry lye and lye solutions are corrosive and will degrade organic tissue."
"Lye may react with various sugars to generate carbon monoxide, which is a poisonous gas; mixing sodium hydroxide and sugar in a closed container is therefore dangerous."
The soaking process that goes into lutefisk is the only thing keeping it from burning one's throat on the way down. By the time all is said and done, the lutefisk has a pH of 11-12 (strong enough to cause chemical burning). Lye is normally used to clear out drains, make soap, and produce biodiesel. Yes, high-quality lye can be used to preserve food, but lutefisk is an extreme example.
The lutefisk is eating the fork as I speak.
Why the hell do they do it? Some say that it goes back to Viking times. Traditional lore holds that, for whatever reason, a fish got into some lye; since the people at the time were so poor that they could not let a single fish go to waste, they had to eat the slimy, gelatinous mess that the fish had become. For whatever reason, people persisted in eating the corrosive mixture, and it is now a staple of Scandinavian tradition. They claim eating lutefisk once a year is the secret to their awesome health and longevity.
Can we add ABBA and Ace of Base to that list, too? More research must be done.
I once asked a Finnish artist what lutefisk tasted like. She said that it tasted like slippery. I proceeded to wonder exactly how that was possible, but she assured me that lutefisk did indeed taste like slippery. If something is so bizarre that it redefines whether something can be a taste or not, is it really worth trying? Judge for yourself; it's already in Canada and America. In fact, we eat more of it than the people in Europe.
There is only one thing that would make me eat lutefisk: