Oh Lutefisk!

With the same particularly Canadian impulses that have preserved and celebrated archaic forms of Ukrainian dance, my family has retained some cultural remnants from a long forgotten past.  Year after year, my mostly Scandanavian family comes together on December 24th to share a traditional Norwegian Christmas meal. Although I am not familiar with the origin or significance of the dishes they seem sufficiently unusual to warrant documentation.

The star of the meal is a jelly-like fishy substance called Lutefisk.  The fish (usually cod) is treated with lye and salt, packaged, frozen and distributed to lusty Norwegians all over the place. It is boiled and consumed with a generous drizzle of melted butter, salt and pepper. Due to its unappealing appearance and off-putting texture, eating lutefisk has become a rite of passage of sorts. Our dates and partners capable of swallowing the stuff are heaped with praise and are fast tracked for family approval.

 

The dish never fails to please is a flat bread of sorts.  Lefse is a distant relative of the crepe/tortilla family, and is prepared by mixing cold mashed potatoes with flour, cream and (depending who you talk to) shortening. The dough is then rolled into thin rounds and cooked on a griddle. It is a time consuming, labour intensive process, wrought with hazards for the first time lefse maker. The end product however is tender and delicious, usually eated with butter and sugar.

Yum.

My favourite of the Norwegian Christmas delicacies is Potato Sausage. Every year without fail, my aunt and uncle make a big batch of these sausages, working to perfect their recipe. I am told the sausage mixture contains half potato with equal parts beef and pork and seasoning. It is baked in the oven until the skins provide that delightful pop when you bite into them. After ten years of maintaing quite a diligent vegetarian diet, I compromised it all for the seductive Potatoe Sausage.

I regret nothing.

8 Comments

  1. Colin says:

    Why didn’t you serve any of this at your New Year’s Eve bash?

  2. Todd says:

    Not to be out done, my cousin loves to sing her tribute to the meal “Oh Lutefisk” sung to the tune of “O Christmas Tree” Skip to the end part when they bring Errol Flynn into it.

    Oh Lutefisk, Oh Lutefisk, how fragrant your aroma,
    Oh Lutefisk, Oh Lutefisk, you put me in a coma.
    You smell so strong, you look like glue,
    You taste yust like an overshoe,
    But Lutefisk, come Saturday,
    I tink I’ll eat you anyway.

    Oh Lutefisk, Oh Lutefisk, I put you by the doorway
    I vanted you to ripen up, yust like dey do in Norway
    A dog came by and sprinkled you, I hit him vit an army shoe
    Oh Lutefisk, now I suppose
    I’ll eat you as I hold my nose.

    Oh Lutefisk, Oh Lutefisk, how vell I do remember.
    On Christmas Eve how we’d receive, our big treat of December
    It vasn’t turkey or fried ham, it vasn’t even pickled spam
    My mudder knew dere vas no risk,
    In serving buttered Lutefisk.

    Oh Lutefisk, Oh Lutefisk, now everyone discovers
    Dat Lutefisk and Lefse makes, Norweigians better lovers.
    Now all da vorld can have a ball, you’re better dan dat Yeritol
    Oh Lutefisk, vit brennevin
    You make me feel like Errol Flynn.

  3. Jodi says:

    ….and oh how the aroma lingers — there are very few foods that taste just as good going down as they do coming up but yes, like licorice, lutefisk is one of them.

  4. megan says:

    oh jodi, thats so disgusting!

  5. Jodi says:

    i know, but one of us has to admit it sooner or later….

  6. […] be told, other than a single Norwegian food encounter every Christmas, I know very little about the culture of my ancestors. I do know they like pickled fish… and […]

  7. Leif says:

    Can’t wait for lutefisk on the 24th, never missing that meal again!

  8. Audrey Gronsdahl says:

    6 MOOR SLEEPS – I can hardly wait!

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