HJ/EDEnterprise Dispatch, Nov. 21, 2005

Lutefisk: a Norwegian tradition

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Hundreds of pounds of lutefisk will be sold at area meat markets during the next coming months.

“There has been a decline (of lutefisk) up until a couple of years ago. Now younger people are buying it...trying to pick up the family tradition,” according to Barb Bakeberg of the Marketplace in Cokato.

Jeremy Skouge of the Marketplace’s fresh meat department in Cokato, they received their first shipment of Lutefisk at the beginning of November.

They have already sold 35 pounds of lutefisk with each filet weighing about three pounds. They will continue to sell through New Year’s Day and Skouge estimates they will sell between 400 to 500 pounds this year.

Gary’s Family Foods of Dassel is estimating selling 900 pounds of lutefisk this year.

“We used to sell 4,000 to 5,000 pounds a year,” said Gary Stanley of Gary’s Family Foods.

He thinks that the older people are not around to buy the delicacy. He remembers a time when he supplied seven large lutefisk dinners in the area and now he only does Rotary.

Last Saturday, DC locals gathered with anticipation for the pure enjoyment and tradition of 27th annual lutefisk and Swedish meatballs dinner.

The dinner was sponsored by the Rotary Club at the Dassel-Cokato High School Commons.

Besides the popular dish of lutefisk, Swedish meatballs, potatoes and lefse were also served at the dinner.

Lutefisk has been a Norwegian tradition since the time of the Vikings.

According to What’s Cooking America’s web site, the tradition began when “plundering Vikings burned down a fishing village, including the wooden racks with drying cod. The returning villagers poured water on the racks to put out the fire. Ashes covered the dried fish, and then it rained. The fish buried in the ashes thus became soaked in a lye slush.

Later the villagers were surprised to see that the dried fish had changed to what looked like fresh fish. They rinsed the fish in water and boiled it. The story is that one particularly brave villager tasted the fish and declared it “not bad.”

Norwegian-Americans believe that lutefisk was brought by their ancestors on the ships when they came to America, and that was all they had to eat.

Today, the fish is celebrated in ethnic and religious celebrations and is linked to hardship and courage.”

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