29 January 2009

Love That Lutefisk!

L U T E F I S K (pronounced [lʉːtəfɪsk], an eight letter word that, when uttered aloud in my childhood home in St. Paul, Minnesota, sent my brothers and I running the opposite way with our fingers holding our noses. Lutefisk is literally 'lye fish', as posted in Wikipedia.com , because it is made using caustic lye soda derived from potash minerals. My 87 year old father LOVES lutefisk. He claims to be Norwegian by marriage and has grown to love "the stuff." Each fall he dusts off his lutefisk apron and is one of the many servers at his (Lutheran) church's annual Lutefisk Dinner, serving over 800 people in one evening.

It's a Scandinavian delicacy that has to be seen to believe. I found a video on Youtube.com that does an excellent job of telling the story of lutefisk. To get to the bit on lutefisk, fast forward to 2:00 where the narrator talks with Warren Dahl, the co-owner of Ingebretsen's in Minneapolis.

What really caught my attention was an article that appeared in the Minneapolis - St. Paul StarTribune.com on December 20, 2008. Reporter Curt Brown interviewed my families friends, Dick Sundberg and Dennis Slattengren, at the St. Paul Corner Drug store just three blocks from my childhood home, where my octogenarian parents have lived for nearly 50 years. My folks are regulars for the nickel cup of coffee. "Lutefisk: A Holiday stinker (but a Minnesota keeper)" takes the viewer on a journey in pursuit of LUTEFISK and other Scandinavian delicacies.

For even more information on lutefisk, check out Gary Legwold's book, "Last Word on Lutefisk," a comprehensive collection of facts, fiction and folklore surrounding this simple fish with the unforgettable scent.
And to close this blog entry, which reeks of a tantalizing aroma ...a cheer from Pacific Lutheran University located just south of Seattle near Tacoma:

"Lutefisk, Lutefisk, Lefse, Lefse, We're the mighty Lutherans, Ya sure, you betcha."

Luci Baker Johnson

1 comment:

Barbara Holz Sullivan said...


It was wonderful to read about Lutefisk. I've always wanted to try it and now you've given me the courage to try a taste.

I've always believed I inherited a sour gene from my German ancestors because ever since I was little, I've much preferred the pucker of pickled herring, saurkraut, dill pickles, pungent cheeses, and all things savory.