My only regret after our trip to Sweden was admitting to the customs officials that I had sausage in my suitcase. I thought certainly they would allow vacuum-sealed meat, but no-go. This is not the first time I’ve suffered at their hands for telling the truth. Let this be a lesson to those who stop at Heberleins: lie through your teeth!
Four generations of the Heberlein family have stood inside the walls of this unassuming storefront slicing meat behind this busy counter, and smoking sausages in the old style over smoldering piles of juniper brush out back. Beside the counter a framed article from 1988 talks about the meat ‘buffet’ at Heberleins. In other words, things don’t change much around here.
In perfect English, Ida, the baby of the family, will let you sample their offering until you think you’ll burst. Ida has been working in the business since she was a little girl, starting out by putting the labels on the packaging. If you stand here long enough she may tell you a few stories about her eccentric grandfather, who devised all of the Heberlein sausage recipes and worked up until three months before his death at age 84. He once went to town on a 6-month old sausage he found in a backpack in the attic. Now that’s a man I’m sorry not to have met.
Make sure to taste the rackebajsare, a Swedish slang word that translates as something like “Hellraiser,” which granddaddy invented when he inadvertently dumped a whole package of cayenne pepper in the mix.
“What else is in it?” I asked. Ida replied, “Piri piri peppers, garlic, fat and love.”
THINGS TO TAKE HOME WITH YOU
At least two rackebajsare, one for you and one for me. I’ll send you my address once you get stateside.