18 August, 2001
How Do You Like Your Fish?
Saturday, 18 August 2001
Det ar gott! (It is delicious!)
Life on Board
The last time I wrote about a Swedish tradition, I said that it was a privilege to be part of the crayfish party. This time, fear and anxiety for the upcoming event is a better description. If you had people over for a dinner party, and you were serving fish, you might ask, "How do you like your fish prepared?" Do you think the normal response would be, "Please take a 6 inch Baltic herring, don't cook it, leave the guts in, cut the head off, put about 6 of them in a large can, seal it, leave it on the shelf until the fish inside ferment and the can buckles and bulges. Then open the can, gut the fish at the table, slice them onto a piece of flatbread, put on some pieces of boiled potato, a pile of raw onions, roll it up, and enjoy! Oh, by the way, the smell is the worst part. If you can get past that, the taste isn't too bad."
Surstromming (sour herring), considered a delicacy, a once-a-year obligation, a point of pride, or something to be completely avoided, is another August tradition in parts of Scandinavia. For days before this event, I took an unofficial poll on the ship and the overwhelming responses were obligation, pride, or avoidance. Some people left the ship this evening. We had dinner at the normal time (and we were cautioned to eat VERY little because it makes it easier later if you are hungry), then we were to reconvene at 8 pm in the mess hall. Our cooking staff was unhappy about the whole thing (I think it makes their kitchen unusable for a few days) and locked themselves in the lounge with the windows open, so we had volunteer preparers. Soon after, a smell, excuse me, a reek, began to permeate every deck of the ship. They all said that it is best to just be in the room with it, in the thick of it, so you get used to it faster. I can't describe it, but it is more than just a rotting fish smell. Sort of a methane, sulfur, rotting flesh, road kill, paper mill, manure smell that gets into your nose and eyes and skin. And, it comes back later and the next day to visit again in the form of burps and belches.
So, I signed the list to be included in the rotten fish party. For me, it was some sort of perverted American pride thing. I would guess there were about 50 people there (the Americans made a good showing! Some of them discovered that Tabasco sauce can really help mask the taste). I ate an obligatory one fish. It doesn't help that the big bowl of fish guts with bulging swim bladders is sitting on the table in front of you. The smell is probably the worst thing I have ever smelled. The taste is not the worst thing I have ever tasted, but I don't think I ever need to eat another one as long as I live. I just kept telling myself, "Other people have eaten this and not died."
Where Are We Now?
I have no idea. Tuomo Roine has borrowed my Garmin GPS so that he can revisit his coring sites on the ice floe and map out their exact coordinates in relation so the ship. I can tell you that it was a little cloudy this morning but it cleared up early to be one of the nicest days we have had.
Scientists at Work
It was such a beautiful afternoon. People were skiing, boats were motoring, balloons were flying, SODARs were beeping. Hmmm. why don't we tie my camcorder to the bottom of the balloon and send it up a kilometer or so? GOOD IDEA! I got some incredible video for 40 minutes, 20 up and 20 down. The Oden looks like a toy boat from up there and the snowmobiles are scurrying here and there on their little bug-like errands. You can hear the SODAR beeps the entire time, mapping out the air. I couldn't get any photo shots since I had my camcorder taping the whole time, but I will send a picture of the balloon and newly-painted SODAR cubes.
Vi ses! (See you later!)
From Deck 4 on the Icebreaker Oden, somewhere north of 88,
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