Canned food is food preserved in tin cans by removing the air inside and sterilising the can to prevent the food from spoiling, for long-term storage.
It seems that they were originally made for solving food problems in the military.
Apparently, seeing soldiers from collapsing from getting ill from spoiled food and getting malnutrition from not getting fresh food, a foreign King offered great rewards for a solution, which led to the creation of canned food.
In the early stages, the cans were opened by heating the soldered lids, which sounds rather cumbersome. Decades later, new types of cans, which can be opened easily by using hammer and chisel, were invented.
When I told mother about the pub and the canned food, she agreed.
“If there’s canned food, we won’t have to struggle so much before the polar nights (kaamos).”
I hadn’t thought of the price, but I am thinking that it would be nice if the advantages of canned food were taught in the pub and the canned food spread to stores.
The low birth rate problem of the village is dire. We might be filled only with old people in the future. Then, canned food will prove to be very useful.
“Tomorrow, a merchant will bring some.”
“Hehh, I see~”
Mother was listening in a buoyant manner, but maybe because she thought of something, she suddenly made a serious expression.
“Canned food, Ritchan, canned food you say……”
Mother twirled her fingers on the table as if to draw something, but I could not tell what she was trying to draw.
When I handed her paper and pen, she drew something that was like bread that had risen. In the middle on the can, there was a drawing of fish.
And then she asked with a trembling voice.
“C-Could canned food be this!?”
“Erm, sorry, I never saw canned food before.”
“Sieg should know, so I’ll call her over.”
Sieg took Arno to the room to lull him to sleep. He might be asleep by now.
A few minutes later.
After seeing the picture of the canned food mother drew, Sieg tilted her head.
“Linde-chan, is this the canned food you know?”
“The canned food I know aren’t inflated like this.”
Sieg drew canned food on the paper.
Maybe because her drawing skills weren’t that good, the picture was not that different from the inflated can mother drew.
“Hmm, is it different~?”
“I’m sorry, mother-in-law. My drawing skills are not good.”
Well, the shape is fine. More importantly, I asked why mother was so afraid.
Mother started talking about her experience from the decade of travelling the world.
“Was it soon after we left? At a port of the neighbouring country, they were selling canned food.”
She was thinking of dining at a restaurant, but father took interest in the canned food sold at the port. The shape was peculiar so it interested him, or so.
“The container was swollen up, like risen bread.”
Sieg said that she never saw such canned food. Father thought that it might be a defective product, but when he asked the shopkeeper the reply was that it was normal.
The content of the can was herring. ‘Surströmming’ or so it was called. Inside, there’s herring pickled in salt.
“Daddy thought that the inflated can was interesting, so he started saying that he wanted to eat it……”
He asked the shopkeeper how it is meant to be eaten. The fish first has to be washed with spirits. Then, along with steamed potatoes, pickled vegetables and sour cream, it should be wrapped in a chewy flatbread called ‘tunnbröd’. After buying bread and vegetables the store decided to have the food in the park.
“Daddy had hammer and chisel, while I was holding the can down……”
The moment the chisel was driven into the can, the stench spread. It was so strong that made her cry, mother recalled with a sad expression. Apparently the fish has a deathly stench.
“Really, the tears didn’t stop for an hour.”
Father also thought that it was rotten, so he went to the store to get it refunded. However, the canned food was not rotten, but fermented. It was food that had a strong smell yet was tasty, so it was loved by some of the inhabitants.
“Still, no~ matter, no~ matter what we tried, we couldn’t dare have it, so we gave it to a person at the store for them to eat.”
Mother affirmed that ‘surströmming’ was the most pungent food she ever had. She said that it smelled dozens times worse than rotting food scraps.
On top of that, unfortunately, the smell did not go away from the clothes and the luggage.
“I think that the villagers can’t have that canned food.”
Even that tolerant mother has food she abhors. ‘Surströmming’.
I vowed to not buy it even if a merchant brought it.
Of course, rotten, I mean, fermented herrings are not called there is to canned food. Sieg explained that the canned food she had during her days in the military were not ‘surströmming’.
Sieg persuaded mother that she had nothing to worry about.
I even promised to do the tasting first.
“There could something father wrote about canned food in his study~”
“I see. I’ll search for it.”
“Sorry if there aren’t any.”
As mother said, there was a research paper on canned herring.
I had thought he was rather calm, but unexpectedly he does not like to just go over it.
According to the research paper, ‘surströmming’ was to be made with herring caught in spring, as per the king’s decree.
It is made by putting herrings in a container of salt water, leaving them in for two months for fermenting. Before cans were introduced, they seemed to have been made in barrels.
As for reason why the cans swell up, they are produced without heating for steriliastion, so that the fermenting process can continue, creating gas.
As to why they did not properly salt and heat the food, they did not have enough sunlight to create salt, and they lacked fuel such as firewood even for heating, so they had to resort to such means of making fermented food.
This was also precious food for soldiers during times of war, apparently.
Not rotten, but fermented, ‘surströmming’.
When I read the paper, I felt like eating —— of course not.
For the peace of the village, I vowed to never touch them.
The next day, a merchant brought about a dozen different kinds of canned foods.
I was wary of ‘surströmming’, but I could not find any canned food with the labels in the language of the neighbouring country.
I asked the merchant about that. Apparently, pickled herring can be bought at cheap prices, but they’re not bought since it’s not well-received outside of that country. I thought that it was a wise decision.
All the canned foods are imported from overseas. Unfortunately, I couldn’t read the words. I thought that I would just have to make by with the pictures, but Sieg said that she can read some.
“There’s beef, fruits, vegetables, and also condensed milk, it seems.”
It seems that the big can had dairy. Sieg, looking at it for the first time, held up the can and read the information written on it.
“It seems like it’s milk concentrated with sugar.”
“Hehh, canned dairy might be nice!”
I bought everything the merchant brought. They were expensive since they were imported goods, but I convinced myself that people have to spend money to keep the economy going as I purchased them.
The merchant said that there will be a discount of 20% if I bought in large bulks. I felt thankful for that.
I paid the money and parted ways with the merchant.
Seeing the cans on the table, I felt excited.
To be able to buy preserved food with money, I had never imagined that would be possible.
“This is rather exciting.”
“Well, I don’t think it will be that amazing though.”
First, we have to confirm if the canned foods are delicious.
Tonight, the Rango family is resting, so our dinner will consist of canned foods.