We ate a Mårtensgås dinner at Anders' parents' tonight. It's Martin's name day (Mårten is pronounced Morton, by the way), because it's St. Martin's Eve (as usual, the Swedes celebrate the holiday the evening BEFORE). If you want to, you can read all about St. Martin's Day. It's really only in Skåne that Sweden celebrates St. Martin's Eve by eating goose. It's mostly because this is the time of year when the farmers decided it was goose-eating time. Much like we decided in America that this time of year is turkey-eating time. There is a story that Martin of Tours (the saint the day is named for) didn't want to be named bishop so he hid among the geese. But the geese's honking revealed his whereabouts and he had to become bishop regardless. The geese were eaten as punishment.
Here in southern Sweden, a typical goose dinner consists of black soup, goose stuffed with apples and plums, red cabbage and applesauce and apple cake with vanilla sauce. This was actually a specific menu that was popularized in Stockholm in the 1850s and caught the public fancy.
Black soup, or blood soup, is disgusting by the way, so I was really glad that Anders' mom chose to serve asparagus soup instead. Asparagus soup with a little crème fraîche is MUCH better than soup made of boiled pigs' legs, goose blood, salt and vinegar with all the same spices as gingerbread.
I've actually tasted black soup once, at another Mårtensgås dinner we went to with friends some years ago. It tasted sort of like gingerbread, but mostly like blood. Blood sausage and blood pudding (similar to the sausage but minus raisins) are another traditional mainstay that can still be found on menus here in Sweden...my kids used to get them regularly for school lunches. Bleah.
When we still lived in Chicago, Anders made a goose dinner once for some friends. I remember how strange the fruit stuffing was to me at the time, who had only ever had stuffing made with bread. His apple cake, however, was to die for :)
Blood soup isn't the weirdest thing I've ever tasted, though I tend to be rather restrictive about trying really bizarre things. I have tried lutfisk (gross) and surströmming (grosser) as well. During our last day in London, while I was wandering around Marks & Spencer's, I saw a shelf full of disgusting novelty food items for sale, among them were scorpion vodka and BBQ-flavored mealworms. Squick!
Compared to that, blood soup seems pretty tame.
This afternoon, I walked into the kitchen just as a huge flight of several vees of geese flew honking loudly overhead. There were hundreds of them, at least, all flapping as hard as they could and shifting position slowly from front to back and up again. Their bellies flashed white in the sunshine as they zoomed past. I could still hear them for several minutes after the last of them had passed our house. South for the winter, or just fleeing a Mårtensgås fate?