Swedish Product Review: Wasa Forest Sandwich

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Wasa sandwiches, a combination of Swedish traditional crispbread and preservative-laced cream cheese, are a popular snack here. The coolest flavor is probably the “forest treasure” (skatt can also mean tax, but it didn’t seem appropriate) flavor shown here. From my poor Swedish skills, I have deduced based on some commercials I saw, that Wasa had some sort of “suggest a flavor” contest and this blond dude who likes hanging out in the forest won with chanterelle mushroom and black pepper. Chanterelles are the most prized of any of the mushrooms grown in Sweden. Gathering them is protected by law, so in the autumn anyone can go out and collect these forest treasures. Unfortunately it’s very competitive and against Swedes who have spent every year of their life gathering them, I had no chance.

In America, few people gather mushrooms and the whole practice is viewed with some suspicion. Mention gathering mushrooms in the U.S. and you are likely to hear some anecdote about some poor women who died because she misidentified a poisonous deathcap.

I was recently reading an article about foraging when I saw this sentiment again

Larry Pong, principal food inspector in the San Francisco Department of Public Health, recounts the case of a man who ate a bad mushroom several years ago during a feast at a local winery. “He died a painful death,” Pong said, quickly elaborating: “It was painful in the beginning. And then, after his liver disintegrated, he went into a state of euphoria. And then he died.” Such cases crop up regularly in mushroom-hunting territory. Between January and November of last year, the California Poison Control System received 721 calls from state residents who had eaten questionable mushrooms, according to Stuart Heard, the agency’s executive director. Three of those cases led to serious illness, and one to death.

I read about cases of mushroom poisoning here too, but they don’t seem to be very common. Gathering mushrooms is part of the culture here and people learn from experienced family members starting at a very young age. Besides that, the most popular mushrooms are those that are unlikely to be misidentified.

It’s just not something people seem to worry about. Wild mushrooms can even be bought at markets.

As for the Wasa sandwiches, they have something like .05% chanterelles, but despite that, they are still pretty delicious.

7.5/10

Next episode: why do Swedish people love cream cheese so much?

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