There is nothing like being at a Lutefisk dinner. A true Norwegian licks their chops and dig in.
Now hopefully youngsters would not scowl at this type of dinner and the type of conversations that are conducted at these events.
They include a lovely piece of cod preserved in lye. These days, I ache for such memorable meals. But the generation that we are raising are often used to things being processed and made to look pretty.
So that if you leave a bone on something, an eye, a scale etc. it will NOT be eaten. But put a batter on it and you’re golden?!? Yet, all it will take is a true depression/recession and once folks are hungry, they will once again cherish these traditions vs. the dubious tradition of Burger Mac et al.
I recall Mrs. Quirk, an old lady from my home village. I still shake from laughing at her memory. She was just funny. While she is making sandwiches for the ‘afters’ of the Pantomime, some Cabaret/Variety show or some event for parochial funds; the ashes of her cigarette would sometimes fall into the ham or cheese sandwich; yet they were served.
Yes, it was appalling, but you see, she couldn’t help it. She would be so wrapped up in the story she was telling. It would be rude to interrupt her—that would be bad manners and the story was worth a bit of ash. These days, the children would have, perhaps, walked away once they realized DS and Black Ops was not being debated.
As you get older you appreciate the funny things, the simple things and genuine people. Folks who attend Lutefisk dinners and small village events are giants of folks, cigarette filled sandwiches and all. The biggest influence comes from memorable meals and events.
I think you really would be crazy to miss any Lutefisk Church dinners around the Twin Cities, & risk missing out on this incredible experience (They are usually held in Lutheran Churches).
It is believed that the Norwegians hung onto their language, customs, and traditions for a longer time than most other ethnic groups. Unlike the Irish, the Norwegians settled mostly in one place, the plains of the upper Midwest. The Norwegian immigrants grouped together for practical reasons—the means of communicating. They trusted their own groups. This went on for a long time but eventually the public schools broke the barrier.
If you have never attend a good old fashioned Lutefisk you’d miss out on discussions such as whether the cream sauce or melted butter was more Norwegian or if it was more Swedish.
The cod can only be boiled for minutes, or else it will be tough. Since you are dealing with a loyal large gathering from here and yonder… the tenderness of the cod is of uppermost importance & fodder for fine discussion. Your whole reputation of a decent church rides on this meal.
There is usually a joke, and preferable told by the minister. Here is a favorite:
Sven asked his friend Ole how to get a skunk out from under his porch.
“Just send some Norwegians under dat porch.”
A month later, Oley asked how it worked.
“Oh, da skunk left, but I don’t know how to get rid of dem Norwegians.”
It never gets old!
I’d recommend checking out this lovely event in the Twins Cities area. Often AAL sponsors the events (now Thrivent Financial for Lutherans—they match funds collected to help people stricken with illness and such).
It is a win, win. You’ll see Lutherans, and Norwegians and Swedish in droves. I’m Catholic and if I can love a Lutheran, so can you! I ended up marrying one.
It is one of those times too that Scandinavians will not be able to contain their excitement. You may just even get a double ‘thank you’, the eyebrows could even be raised and you’ll get a conversation without a cell phone, with someone looking you straight in the eye. That’s happiness!
On the Menu you will see:
- Potato Soup
- Swedish Meatballs
- Boiled Potatoes
- Rice Pudding
- Cranberry Sauce
- Melted Butter
- Cream sauce
And for the true connoisseurs, (or folks lacking trust) bring your own nutmeg, and allspice in the case the church forgets (like maybe a United Church of Christ operation that is giving this a go for the first time).
And, if you are really lucky, perhaps there will be door prizes and you’ll be able to take home left over Lutefisk!!
Oh…leave some Lutefisk for me!!!
The novelist Arne Gaborg’s description of the Norwegian pioneer settlers in the Dakota Territory: "They are a strong, stubborn folk who dig their way through life, of brooding and care, putter with the soil and search the Scriptures, force a little corn from the earth and hopes from their dreams, put their faith in the penny and their trust in God."
That is what made our country great; to force a little lutefisk from the kitchen, put our faith in one’s neighbors and trust in God.