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The Box

I received a message from a kind friend this morning. (Said friend shall remain anonymous unless he chooses otherwise.) But I will quote him:

I’m beginning to get a little worried that your package of authentic Scandinaviana blew up in the mail. Did you get it, or am I going to get a little visit from the Bioterrorism authorities?

Oh dear.

I keep a post office box for business and internet correspondence, and I hadn’t been there yet this week. Was the post office still there? Would it be encased in a giant biohazard bubble when I arrived to pick up my package? Would stern men encased in Class 4 biosafety suits haul me away for questioning?

biosafety suit

I did not stop in on the way to work; taking the explosive biohazardous package into a federal facility seemed… unwise. The delay gave me time to plan, and to research reports of suspicious items at my local post office.

I found no such reports, and the post office looked normal when I arrived, no lurking government agents. I took the precaution of going after business hours to avoid suspicious clerks. The key to the package locker rested in my box, without even a nasty note.

Relieved, I collected the package. It did not smell odd, nor was it oozing. I carried it home, and the dog did not start howling when I entered the room.

I carefully slit it open, and removed a narrow flat box.


Chocolates! With gooey alcoholic centers! WIN!!!

But I was not lulled into complacency. There was still a heavy round item that had been carefully sealed in layers of bright pink bubble wrap.

Hands trembling slightly, I slit the tape.


My worst fears fulfilled! Swedish fermented herring!

Okay, not my worst fears – I’m much more imaginative than that. Not even the worst fish product: I won’t eat this. Smelling it was entirely sufficient*. But surstromming is disturbing enough.

The internet tells me that I need to lay in supplies of boiled potatoes, and sliced onions, and lots and lots of alcohol. Two kinds, beer and aquavit, though vodka may be substituted if necessary.

What? Of course I’m going to try it.

As long as the can doesn’t explode first**.

* More on hakarl: “So what does hakarl taste like then? It tastes like crying. It tastes like broken promises. It tastes like the Lord God Almighty ripping the Bible out of your hands and saying, “Sorry, this doesn’t apply for you. I think you want “Who Moved My Cheese?” It tastes like the Predator wading into a Care Bears movie and opening fire.”

** Does anyone know if the can should be stored refrigerated? Or in an explosives locker***? Or both?

*** It’s illegal to fly with surstromming because the cans are prone to exploding. Seems the herring keeps fermenting even after it’s been sealed.


  1. Tania says:

    I have been fortunate, so far. Mutual friend has yet to send me anything, but I think it’s because I help him play pranks, via mail, on his children.


  2. neurondoc says:

    I’m immune from food pranks from said friend, as I ate stinky tofu with him.

  3. I really really really do not get this fascinating with eating disgusting things.

    I have been unlucky enough to receive my own packages from someone who is not right in the head.

    No, I did not eat the contents of EITHER package.

    Life is entirely too short to eat disgusting things. It’s “Eat, drink and be merry”, not “eat, drink and be wretchedly ill”, or “eat drink and be off your food for a week.”

  4. Vince says:

    Said friend once sent me Durian cookies, which aren’t as smelly as the actual fruit, but still bad enough. My roommate was NOT impressed. As for the chocolates, I can attest to their excellence.

  5. Eric says:

    Hooray on booze chocolates! They’re delicious! And double-yay on being brave enough to try the… delicacy! I look forward to your report!

  6. Anne C. says:

    I would have tried my “gift” (bull penis), except for the fact that it had been out of refrigeration for longer than I thought prudent for meat products. A good indicator that it had come up to an inappropriate temperature? Even though the penis had been packed with ice packs (which I cleaned and kept), the chocolates in the adjacent compartment were melted and had re-solidified (I had picked it up on the way to work and so had stored it immediately in the fridge) into a single blob. While milk chocolate does have a lower melting temp, it’s still high enough… :/

  7. neurondoc says:

    Note that I don’t get yummy chocolates either… And I draw the line at surstromming.

  8. John says:

    Glad you liked it. Yes, refrigerate the can, the risk of explosion is highly overrated unless the can’s been at room temperature for a few months, but I would not take a chance.

    I don’t know what Michelle is complaining about. She *asked* for the one package, and the only thing wrong with it was the bit of tentacle pron I sent along to accompany the squid jerky. She sent the jerky to someone who does appreciate fine cuisine (MWT).

  9. Nathan says:

    John (who has apparently outed himself), made a comment on my blog indicating that something scary had been sent to me as well. Unfortunately, I’ve haven’t been home in weeks, and our Post Office doesn’t seem to get the concept of letting my GF sign for the package (in spite of matching addresses, right down to the apartment number). So, I’m pretty sure John will either be getting the package back…or a visit from Homeland Security before I have an opportunity to pick mine up.

    Foiled again, Dr. Dispeptic!