Sandwich of Satan

First published on November 26 2006

A few months ago I invented a new sandwich. There’s nothing odd about that, it happens every day – you just find what’s in the fridge and you make a sandwich out of it. However, this sandwich was special – it was a demon-sandwich, the anti-sandwich, El Bocadillo Del Diablo. You see, this sandwich BROKE THE RULES OF SWEDISH FOOD!!!

Yes indeed, it was truly horrible, a travesty – I combined two things that should ON NO ACCOUNT be put together, not even under pain of death. The Swedes are very, very particular about what goes together and what doesn’t. This is very amusing in a country which boasts the following items (some of these taken from a previous blog entry of mine):

–    Kebab Pizza
–    Pea soup and pancakes
–    Potatoes and jam

Now these things are just fine to put together, but MY two items – beetroot salad and tuna fish – just do not work. See, I said it – BEETROOT SALAD AND TUNA FISH – and I’m still alive! But should I mention this combination to any Swede – and I do mean ANY Swede – they make a shocked face, give a little shiver and say “ugh”. Really, I’ve tried, they ALL do it, even the ones that consider themselves to be “cosmopolitan”.

When I press them as to why they will not try a sandwich that I promise them is nice, they usually answer “because it’s just WRONG”. And that’s it, explanation over, take your horrible perverted sandwich and get out of here.


Figure 1: Forbidden pleasures

Now maybe this is just me but I find this very odd indeed. How are you supposed to uncover new foods, create new recipes, if you don’t put things together that have not been together before? I will try ANY food if somebody tells me it is good – really, anything. Horses testicles, monkey’s brains, giant tree grubs with vegemite…as long as another human being likes it, I accept there is a chance that I could also like it and give it a fair shot.

I have searched the Internet and could not find this sandwich anywhere. I suspect that this “beetroot salad” (rödbettssallad) could be an entirely Swedish thing – it’s sort of like a beetroot coleslaw. So if you foreigners want to try this marvellous sandwich – hereby know as the “Tuna Paddy” – then either go to your local Swedish deli or else move here. And to my Swedish readers – off you go and try it, and then tell me what you think! Go on, I dare you!

/ paddy


18 thoughts on “Sandwich of Satan

  1. Okay. Now I get the 93% vegetarian thing. Tuna?! Not to mention ‘Horses testicles, monkey’s brains, giant tree grubs with vegemite’. What has become of you?

  2. I’m not suggesting I HAVE eaten monkey’s brains, I’m only saying that I WOULD in order to win a bet or gross people out. And tuna isn’t meat: fish are plants.

  3. Hahaha…fish are plants! ‘You shall here much before your ears fall off’ is a Swedish saying used to express amazement at something heard. Very appropriate here I think. :)

    I’d forgotten all about ‘ rÖdbettssallad’ until now; mmmm very yummy!

  4. Tuna Friend: No need, you’re converting the converted. I have cut my fish consumption almost to zero, so I doubt I’ll eat my sandwich so many more times. From an environmental point of view, it’s better to eat beef or pork than fish.

    However, it is still MY sandwich, and all royalties go to ME, got it?

  5. Well, take two disgusting things and add them together and you get…bläää. But I like the new name of it, rödbettssallad (red bite sallad), since it will actually make your mouth red!

  6. Åkerbäret: Aha…I spelled it wrong! I didn’t notice before! And you’re right, it is a good name. However, when we consider the other things that become red after eating this, perhaps we should call it “rödbajssallad”…heh heh heh…

    (Note: non-swedish speakers will not get this, but I’m sure they can work it out…)

  7. This sounds interesting. Did you put it on dark bread? I think the colour contrast would add to the yummyness. They had beetroot salad in Poland too, but sadly I haven’t come across it back here in Chicago. Or even beets at all, for that matter. :-( I’m living in a colour-less world here.

  8. I just got your sandwich recipe from a friend in the states and it sounds Mmmm! I must say, as a Swede, living in Ireland, I actually think this sounds pretty good and I would love to try it. Do not think I can find the Rödbetssallad here but I know how to make it myself. Keep us updated on any other good Swedish food combinations you make, as I would never in the world have thought of this combo.myself :-)

  9. Bah, I’m no sucker. Get away with your devil sandwiches. I’m sticking to my dessert sensation: mussels drenched in honey and cinnamon à la mode. Carbs AND protein in one go! Mmmm. Oh no, perhaps I’ve shared to much. :o(

  10. I’m back!

    extapeek:Don’t remember, think it was darkish but not too dark. If you follow. Make your own, it seems easy!

    Nenette: I’ll see what I can come up with!

    Glen: Sounds…stirring…and daring. And possibly awful!

  11. I´d say everything goes to beetroot salad.
    The Swedish Classic Christmas Herring Salad (Sillsallad) is beetroot salad with pieces of pickled herring in and that combination is not my favorite.
    But with tuna it tast good.

  12. Don’t know what they have for tuna in Sweden–I assume it’s the same selection as in Holland and Austria. I spent a year in a house with a bunch of pan-Europeans. They used to complain when I cooked fresh fish–I had to live the place when they cooked CANNED tuna. Yes, my friends, they cooked it–they put it in a frying pan and tossed it around, adding some meaningless flavorings along the way. The cheaper the tuna, the worse the stench. Most catfood smells better than that!

    In any case, I am with the Swedes on this one. Seems like a waste of good tuna (and why anyone would want to eat the bad tuna is beyond me–feed it to the cats). But there is room for beet salad and fish on a sandwich–or even mixed in a salad together. All you have to do is use another popular Swedish ingredient–herring. Now, THAT”s a perfect combination! Top it off with a very thin slice of apple for crunch, and you have a perfect sandwich–or salad!

  13. I see Blackout already panned it. You have to avoid the prefab stuff. It’s best with large pieces of herring, not “bits”. And avoid the slimy beet salads–the chunkier the better. And apple and herring is a surprising combination–Devil would be proud!

  14. @expateek–go to a Russian or a Polish store–there should be plenty of them in most parts of Chicago, especially North and NorthWest. Or a Serbian store on Devon@Kedzie. Or, if you’re close to Palatine, go to EuroFresh.

  15. Yes, Swedish variations are quite interesting. There is a Norwegian restaurant at Disney World that used to have a lunch buffet (I am not sure if they still do). One time they had 14 out of about 30 dishes involve herring in some form. Norwegians love their herring, but that was a positively Swedish experience. Still, even Swede got nothing on the Dutch obsession with “fresh” herring. The odd thing is, though, despite the multiple grades and preparations (four to six saltiness levels, spiced/not spiced, four kinds of smoked, dry, etc.), the most common approach is to take the whole thing, boned, with onions on a piece of bread. Nothing more! (Although a little butter can improve the saltier kinds.)

    Herring to the Dutch is like chocolate to the Swiss and Belge. Swedes look like amateurs next to that.

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