Unfamiliar food can be delicious, but Sweden’s fermented fish, surströmming, makes it rarely beyond the country’s border. Sweden’s disgusting food museum in Malmö invites visitors to explore the world of food and challenge their notions of what is edible.
The Disgusting Food Museum aims to inspire both nausea and curiosity about why certain foods are considered “disgusting.” Fermented herring from the Baltic Sea is indeed a candidate to the world’s smelliest food.
In fact, the museum honestly try to analyze why some dishes considered gross and inedible in some countries are viewed as delicacies in others. About surströmming, museum director Andreas Ahrens says, “The first thing everyone notices is the smell. It’s powerful, pungent and fills the room instantly.” The reason is that the gases that were created during the fermenting process are released upon opening. For this reason, cans of surströmming are usually opened outside, often with a party atmosphere.
Normally, the evolutionary function of disgust is to help us avoid disease and unsafe food. However, in this case, what seems delicious to the Swedes is revolting to others. However, the museum isn’t at all only about surströmming. Adventurous eaters are invited to taste and smell 80 of the world’s grossest delicacies, from roasted Guinea pigs from Peru, known as cuy, and maggot-infested Sardinian cheese casu marzu to turtle soup as well as fermented birds and Iceland’s infamous well-aged shark dis hákarl.
Related: The Stinky Swedish Fish Dish
Is a hardboiled fertilized duck egg really disgusting — or is it just a matter of taste? “Most people just spit out the food they’re unable to swallow,” explains Ahrens.
The star of the museum, surströmming is promoted world-wide by The Swedish Surströmming Supplier that ships the cans internationally.
Do you dare smell the world’s stinkiest cheese? Or taste bull penis or sweets made with metal cleansing chemicals?
The Disgusting Food Museum’s director Andreas Ahrens grew curious about the subject of gross food after he found huge success with his previous project, the Museum of Failure.
Perhaps the Disgusting Food Museum in Malmö can change our ideas of disgust and help us embrace environmentally sustainable foods of the future?
Sweden’s Disgusting Food Museum, written by Tor Kjolberg
All images © The Disgusting Food Museum