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I may not be Norwegian But I’ve Tasted Lutefisk

December 24, 2007 | Uncategorized

Hello! I’m Elana Centor from FunnyBusiness and Blogher where I am a contributing editor on business. Like many of the guest bloggers, Becky and I had not formally met before her request came to do a guest blog. As she explained to me she’s a lurker and has been reading my blog for quite some time.

Being a lurker myself, I immediately said YES to Becky’s request. While I am not of Norwegian ancestry, I do live in Minnesota where there are lots of people of Norwegian ancestry. As it were, one Christmas Eve I was invited to a Norwegian Family party.

Now there was one caveat. You had to agree to taste to Lutefisk. At that point I had lived in Minnesota for 10 years and had heard enough stories about this delicacy soaked in lye that I really felt I could go through the rest of my life without the need to taste it.

But I did. Like the Lutefisk that Tanya Huang writes about, my friends smothered it in butter. While it was not horrible– if texture is an important part of your eating experience, Lutefisk, like Gefilte Fish, may be one of those ethnic foods that require some getting used to.

From Tanya Huang’s blog post about lutefisk.

Mom, Norm, and I had never had Lutefisk before. We kept calling it “soap fish”, because it’s made from stockfish and lye. I imagined a somewhat foamy sudsy dish that tasted like Thai curry.

As it turned out, Lutefisk was quite delicious. Probably because of having been soaked in lye, the fish was translucent and jellyfish-like. Butter and white sauce were poured over top.

After dinner, the chefs of the night gathered and sang “O Lutefisk”. I love the spelling of the lyrics :)

“Oh Lutefisk”
Sung to the tune of “O Christmas Tree”

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.

While I may not have adopted the Norwegian tradition of eating Lutefisk, I did fall in love with Norwegian names– so much so that I named my daughter Berit. Turns out she wasn’t the first Berit in my family.

Now in case you didn’t guessed from the Gefilte Fish reference, Christmas is not my holiday. While I knew that my dad had some cousins from Norway –yes there are even Jews in Norway — I didn’t know much about them except their last name was Century.

After my daughter was born, my Aunt Lilly called and asked if I had deliberately picked that name because of our cousin Berit. I didn’t know that there was a Berit Century but I’ve always loved that connection.

Becky, if you are reading your blog today and having some holiday lutefisk may it go down fast and please give a big Merry Christmas wish to all the Berits you see.

Safe Travels!

Posted by Elana @ 7:07 am  

2 Responses to “I may not be Norwegian But I’ve Tasted Lutefisk”

  1. MotherPie Says:

    I just don’t think I could get up a desire for that dish. It doesn’t even look appetizing.

  2. Devra Says:

    Okay, I see I must now figure out a song that goes with Gefilte Fish. I suppose it should be a Passover tune since the Lutefisk song is to Christmas one.

    Good thing I have a few months to come up with it!

    Becky often says Jews and Norwegians have a lot in common in the food department. Now Elana has confirmed it.

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