I just read an update on the Karl Rove visit to Minot North Dakota’s Norwegian Hostfest going on at the State Fairgrounds this week. Karl said he likes all things Norwegian with the exception of lutefisk. I am with Karl on that one. The worst night of my young life was always December 24 when I endured the odor of boiling lutefisk either in my own home or in the home of a close relative who was hosting a family Christmas Eve each year. Karl Rove said any food that involved the use of lye was off limits for him and it is for me also.
I think of the words of the "Lutefisk Song", a parody written to be sung to the traditional tune "O Christmas Tree". "Oh Lutefisk, O Lutefisk, I put you by the door-vay; I vanted you to ripen up, Yust like dey do in Nor-vay; A dog came by and sprinkled you….I hit him with an army shoe; O Lutefisk, O Lutefisk, I tink I’ll eat you any-vay."
Karl Rove might be put off, as I am , by another Norwegian food I remember being served in my home but not eaten by me! It was called "pulsa" and it looked like a sausage roll but it was made from blood….blood sausage and I refused to eat anything made with blood as well as anything soaked in lye. I suppose this "meat" came about by the old folks’ not wanting to waste anything of a butchered animal—even its blood… because the recipe called for fresh blood, cooked potatoes, flour… and I do not know what else…probably a lot of seasonings including spices used for embalming bodies. I don’t care to know how to make it….I do remember Mother making it and I remember the bucket of blood on the kitchen floor…..although I have tried to block out that image from my brain.
The stuff that is Norwegian that I really like (and I think Karl would like it also) is the stuff that is made with butter, sugar, flour, eggs and then, perhaps, fried in hot fat…like fattigmand and rosettes. I also have no trouble eating lefse (I have learned to make it myself), sandbakkels (almond flavored cookies) and Kringler (wonderful pastry with almond flavored icing) I like "Sweet Soup" or fruit soup made from dried fruits like prunes, raisins, dried apples, peaches, apricots and thickened with tapioca. ( the old ladies used to bring fruit soup to new mothers and I think I know why..it is a great natural laxative). I like Norwegian meatballs. I love "rommegrot" the food of the gods made from milk, cream and butter and flour. I really do love White Food and that is what many Norwegian dishes look like. Oh, I cannot forget a recipe I have for a really good rice pudding also….pure white of course, topped with white meringue from egg whites!
I hope Karl gets to ramble through the food court at the Hostfest and taste some of the dishes that the Scandinavian cooks have developed over the centuries before and after emigration took place to the United States. By the way, Hostfest is pronounced like this: "huuh-st fehst" not Hoe-st Fest like it looks!!!! I cannot describe the umlaut sound but I tried hard…H-uuh-st Fest!!!!! I wish I were there too. I have only been there once but once is not enough even though it is the most crowded place I have ever been!