15 (Tue) April 2014
Tomatsill on Baguette Slices
in my apartment
-Ermita, Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines-
When I got back from lunch, I found a big box on my desk! Care package! From Number One Swedish Fan GK! From Sweden!
I was so excited that I called everyone into my office to share in the moment as I opened the box and took out the goodies one by one. Yes, they agreed that the very idea was totally cool.
The contents included [clockwise from top center]: 1 jar of lingonberry preserve, 1 bottle of Mackmyra Single Malt Whisky, 2 boxes of dried yellow peas, 1 cookbook Traditional Swedish Cooking by Caroline Hofberg, 1 jar of tomatsill (pickled herring in tomato sauce), 1 jar of brännvinssill (pickled herring in vodka(?), 1 jar of vitlökssill (pickled herring in creamy garlic sauce), 1 newspaper.
Sometime back, GK and I had agreed to exchange native cooking ingredients. At my request, he shipped the Swedish goodies on his end to Manila.
Two trips ago to Korea, I’d gathered all the Korean goodies on my end and put them into a box. Being the weekend, the post office was closed, so I was intending to ship the box on the next trip. However, upon my return, I discovered that MIL had come over in the interval and taken the box, thinking that I was getting rid of the stuff, and already used some/most/all of it. If I were to find a tidy box filled with one brand new small container each of soy sauce, doenjang, gochujang, gochugaru, sesame oil, sesame seeds, etc. – a perfect battery of classic Korean ingredients – I’d strongly suspect that perhaps it constituted some kind of premeditated assortment, assembled for a specific purpose. At least, I wouldn’t think that it was a random collection of stuff to get rid of. And she knows that I don’t do things haphazardly, especially where food is concerned. With MIL, life is a low-brow sit-com; if I’d seen this occur on a program, I’d dismiss it as a silly plot twist, “Yeah, right, like that would ever happen.” Anyway, that’s my defense.
Whatever plans that I’d had for dinner, this took precedent. But on short notice, the only thing that I could think of was to open one of the pickled herring jars and eat it with bread, along with a shot of the whisky.
No surprise, I was totally blown away by the experience. Starting with the whisky, it’s legit, on par with Scotch, though sweeter and with more vanilla that I’d generally prefer, a bit light in texture. As for the herring, it was kinda fishy at first bite, but in a good way. The sweetness of the tomato sauce provided a nice counterbalance, especially for my untrained palate. I had to restrain myself from eating the whole jar, as I’d promised to give some to the staff for lunch tomorrow.
Thanks so much, Gustaf! I look forward to many a fine Swedish meal during my time in Manila.
I’d bet that I’ll be the first Korean to cook Swedish cuisine in the Philippines.
(For more details re foods, see THINGS TO EAT.)
(For more details re venues, see PLACES TO EAT.)