“How many people want lutefisk?” The question hangs in the air of my grandmother’s kitchen as three generations look sheepishly at one another. No hands go up. Silence speaks louder than words when it comes to this traditional Norwegian dish of reconstituted lye-dried cod.
The truth is that no on wants any lutefisk. The soaking of the fish during cooking never quite gets all the lye out, and the texture reminds me of a slimy X-Files substance. Drowning lutefisk in butter and salt is the only palatable way to stomach this traditional cuisine passed down from our Scandinavian ancestors.
Our Norwegian and Swedish family history has given us many enjoyable things from sweaters to cookies, but lutefisk is not one of them. Nonetheless we continue to make it every Christmas as a nod to those hearty people that came over 100-150 years ago and settled in Minnesota because it looked just like their homeland.
This year I was able to get down the largest amount I’ve ever accomplished. A serving the size of half a deck of cards. Before you judge me just imagine digging into something that resembles fish + Jell-O soaked in bleach. Late Chritsmas night I thought I had developed a rare case of indigestion. But it was probably the lutefisk.