Lutefisk Dinner

Lutefisk Dinner (c) Kristen Dembroski

 

(clockwise from the top: Lingonberry sauce, candied apples, Lefse,
carrots, meatballs, Lutefisk, and some potatoes in the center)

This weekend, I attended our annual Lutefisk Dinner at the Church of Norway. My extended family – usually about 20 people – has made this a family tradition of about 10 years. We are Norwegian (I’m 3rd generation), and it doesn’t get more Norwegian than Lutefisk!

If you’re unfamiliar with the dish, lemme explain. Lutefisk is dried cod that is soaked in a vat of lye, skinned, boned, boiled, and served with melted butter or cream sauce. Aren’t you salivating already? It is stinky, gelatinous, clear, jiggly, and entirely unappetizing – yet we eat it by the pound! Oh those silly Norwegians. I go for the meatballs.

Lutefisk Dinner (c) Kristen Dembroski

My sister and I have been attending Lutefisk dinners for as long as I can remember – back when we used to host them at our own church. Can you tell we are Norwegian? Uff da!

Norwegian Dessert (c) Kristen Dembroski

And your prize for ingesting a spoonful (minimum) of Lutefisk is a tray of delicious Norwegian delicacies. Pictured here are my favorite desserts. Clockwise from the top: Fruit Soup, Krumkake, and Sandbakkel. Also served are Fattigman and Rosettes.

Krumkake are a particularly coveted treat in my family. If you’ve ever made them, you know what a pain in the rear they can be – so fragile and temperamental. They are delicate cookies that are delicious served as is, or filled with whipping cream. My grandma and my mother would make dozens of them, and they would disappear if you blinked.

Every year we hear about Great Grandma Marie – first generation immigrant from Norway – who would make Krumkake for weeks leading up to Christmas. She would store them in a tin in the back bedroom, which was kept near freezing temperatures, so they would last. Woe to the misguided soul who was caught snitching before Christmas!

As they say at the Lutefisk dinner, if you leave hungry, it’s your own fault. Seriously, it’s just like going to Grandma’s house. The dishes keep getting passed and passed until you’re about ready to burst. It’s such a good time, seeing all of my family seated together at the same table, sharing stories, and eating food that makes you feel like you’re ‘home.’ I look forward to it every year.

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