A Swedish specialty, very common on smörgåsbord, that's eaten with cooked potatoes, sour cream and chive. Basically, it's raw herring filets marinated in spices and vinegar, but several different varieties exist. Glasmästarsill ('glazier herring', with some red onion, carrot, horseradish, white pepper and allspice) is very popular, and so is matjessill (with cinnamon, nutmeg, oregano and pepper) and senapssill ('mustard herring', with mustard, sugar, allspice and bay leaf).

There is a kind of pickled herring that you can buy at your local supermarket packaged by a company called Vita (there may be others and I am by no means promoting a brand name). It is not as good as the homemade kind, but it still hits the spot if you are craving a different kind of taste sensation. You can purchase it with different marinades, including prepared with sour cream, which is not in line with my own tastes but might be with yours.

As a seafood affectionado, I am drawn to things from the sea and prefer them in a jar rather than prepared by seafood counter personnel with unwashed forearms. At the factory they are prepared by machines that are wiped down nightly. The fishermen in Sweden are descended from the Vikings and know what they are doing. They also have a produce called lutefisk that is not as readily available, but it is said to be unpleasant and I was told I would not like it. I do, like pickled herring, and you might want to sample it in the jar sometime.

The texture is similar to that of the gray backing piece you find on salmon, which you can in fact eat. It might feel slightly slimey, but this is marinated raw fish. It is an acquired taste, and the jars comes with onions and spices packed right in. The onions are often one of the best parts of the experience as the marinade makes them explode with pleasure. Once you acquire a taste for pickled herring, or "sill" as my old friend Lars (Norse fellow whose wife makes it at home) calls it, you will feel yourself addicted. Be careful consuming an entire jar. As with anything, too much herring can give one a stomach ache.

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