Lots of lutefisk: Church readies 375 pounds of Scandinavian delicacyLegends about lutefisk — dried cod treated with lye — abound, from tales of accidentally dropping fish in a lye bucket, to anecdotes of Norwegian settlers eating it on the boat to America, to myths of villagers attempting to poison Viking marauders with it.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
Legends about lutefisk — dried cod treated with lye — abound, from tales of accidentally dropping fish in a lye bucket, to anecdotes of Norwegian settlers eating it on the boat to America, to myths of villagers attempting to poison Viking marauders with it.
Regardless of the true history of the traditional Scandinavian food, people in the Jamestown area can taste the delicacy from 4 to 7 p.m. today at Trinity Lutheran Church’s annual Lutefisk and Meatball Supper.
“Many people have grown up and (lutefisk) was the traditional dinner at Christmas Eve, or in the fall,” said Ken Dalsted, who helps coordinate the men who work in the kitchen at the meal. “And a lot of people don’t like it, so along with it, we serve meatballs.”
This year, the group purchased 375 pounds of lutefisk, along with 200 pounds of meatballs, 300 pounds of potatoes, 80 pounds of cabbage and, as a chaser, enough coffee to make 1,000 cups. More than 100 volunteers help make the supper happen.
“Lutefisk is actually cod, ocean cod. This is a kind of preserved cod,” said Tom Olson, coordinator of the supper. “When they cook it, they sort of rehydrate it by boiling it in water.”
On Tuesday, Daryl Neumiller and Hartley Hoyt cut the fish into portions for cooking, which is done by wrapping the fish in cheesecloth and then boiling it to get what Olson called the “correct” texture.
“If you cook it too much, it gets Jello-like,” he said, adding the Trinity men try to keep it a little flaky, more like walleye.
The lutefisk supper is a long-standing tradition at Trinity, and began in 1966, Olson said.
At Trinity, people generally eat lutefisk with melted butter and sometimes, salt and pepper. The meatballs are made from beef and pork and are served with gravy. Sides for both meals include cole slaw, cranberries, buns, lefse, coffee and ice cream.
The price of the meal will be $15 at the door, with children age 11 and younger $4, and preschool-age children eating free.
Carry-out meals can be reserved by calling Joleen at 252-2841, or at the supper.
“Lutefisk, for many people, is an acquired taste,” Dalsted said. “We have some people who come and just love it, and just chow down.”
Lutefisk has served as the butt of many jokes, but many Jamestown residents savor the dish.
“Oh, it’s good,” said Hoyt, who has Norwegian ancestry and has been eating lutefisk for decades. “When I was growing up, we had lutefisk for Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
Neumiller, who is of German Russian ancestry, only started eating lutefisk after attending the Trinity suppers, but has developed a taste for the fish.
According to some, however, the real attraction of the supper at Trinity, however, isn’t the lutefisk or the meatballs.
“It’s an excellent way to get to know people … meeting people and working with them, having people come from all over,” said Frank Fischer, of Jamestown, one of the men getting Trinity’s fellowship hall ready for the supper on Tuesday.
Fischer is of Danish descent, and has been eating lutefisk for 50 years.
“Everyone’s welcome and you eat family-style, and you get to meet your neighbors and new people all the time,” Dalsted said.
And eating any lutefisk is optional.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453
or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org