Seasonal fare in Sweden
Sir, – Éilís Ní Dhuibhne (“Swede deal: a taste of ‘jul’ in an Irish yule”, Features, December 24th) is extremely lucky in her husband, who has clearly shielded her from the full horror of a Swedish Christmas dinner: lutfisk, or soda-fish. This is a fish dried so hard that it has been used for stunning burglars and driving nails into coffins. To make it edible (I almost wrote palatable) they start weeks ahead, leaching out the soda in change after change of water. Unfortunately, water cannot distinguish between plain soda and all those other delicate molecules that confer tastiness. The result is a translucent, flavourless, glue-like blob that squats on your plate, challenging you to sample it. The lights are mercifully low but it’s minus 30 outside; there is no escape. No, Éilís – what you don’t realise is that the ham, its crackling scored into squares, each with an aromatic clove to spice it, is not the meal – it is the reward for managing the lutfisk!
– Yours, etc,