Oh, Europe. You never fail to amaze us with your culinary offerings…
The absolute best/worst day of the year is here once more. On Saturday 14 May, we'll be waiting for a cacophony of chaos to descend on Stockholm for the greatest/most awful competition to ever unite the nation.
If you've been invited to a Eurovision party – or even if you're the host – here are some of the most unusual European foods you can make to really help you get into the swing of things.
Sweden: surströmming (fermented herring)
This Swedish delicacy is stored in tins that continue to bulge with the pressure of the extreme fermentation. The smell is supposed to be one of the worst and most overwhelming in the world – it's apparently like rubbish that's been left in the sun for several days. Make of that information what you will.
Finland: Kalles Kaviar (caviar in a tube)
Apparently a hugely popular sandwich treat in both Finland and Sweden, appropriately made by Abba Seafood. Neither the tube nor the packaging have changed since they were launched in 1954.
Austria: marillenknödel (apricot and potato dumplings)
What a combination. Mashed potato, wrapped around an apricot, wrapped around a sugar cube. And then boiled for 20 minutes. These can be eaten as either a dessert or a main. Or neither. Or both! It's up to you.
Iceland: hákarl (putrefied shark meat)
This Icelandic national dish is prepared by burying a dead shark in a hole in the ground for 12 weeks. Obviously. The fermenting process allows all the poison to seep out and then the carcass is hung up to dry for several months. Chef Anthony Bourdain described it as "the single worst, most disgusting and terrible tasting thing" he's ever eaten. What a shame there isn't time to make it for Saturday, eh?
Italy: casu marzu (cheese with live maggots)
This sheep's milk cheese is left outside on purpose so that flies can lay their eggs inside. The eggs then hatch and the acid in the maggots' digestive system break down the cheese fats, making the texture very soft. By the time it's ready for consumption, there are thousands of maggots inside, which when disturbed can launch themselves a distance of six inches. As much as we love cheese, we'll skip straight to dessert, please.
Russia: kholodets (meat jelly)
This Russian dish was traditionally made with a lower grade of meat, but now even the fanciest restaurants are at it. A meat broth congeals for several hours, until it can be turned into a semi-consistent gelatinous cake. Deeeeelicious.