Sunday, September 13, 2015

Lutefisk Love

So, have ya'll ever had lutefisk? I ordered a pound of it from a Norwegian food company in Minnesota and girded my loins to open the bag when it came on Friday afternoon. J. Ryan Stradal's book Kitchens from the Great Midwest describes the processing and cooking of this traditional food in detail, and it wasn't good. In an interview with the author, he compares the taste to what he imagines aquarium water to be. I'm not sure about aquarium water, but the moment I cut open the bag, I smelled fish and not the good, clean smell of fish. The texture of the filets was spongy -- grossly so -- and later, when I'd roasted it in the oven, it seemed more like jelly than fish. A couple of brave souls tasted it, declared it okay, but fishy, and one woman suggested I crumble it into balls, roll it in Panko and fry it.

I threw it away when everyone left.

So that's my lutefisk experience -- apologies to all Norwegians who hold it close to their hearts.

Other than the lutefisk, we had a really lively discussion about the novel with nearly everyone agreeing that it needed a bit more character development but was otherwise entertaining and a good read. Given how light it was, though, I'm tempted to suggest a heavier one for October and am floating around To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. That's probably one of my top three favorite novels and has an incredible dinner party scene that I could replicate for Books & Bakes. What do you think? Anyone out there have any suggestions for next month's book? Please leave a note in the comments if you do.

Here's the menu from Friday night. All food, except for the caramel ice-cream, was mentioned in the book. A few of the recipes even came from the book!

Wisconsin Cheese and Crackers
Summer Corn Chowder
Caesar Salad with Croutons
Vegetarian Lasagna
Pork Shoulder Tacos with Mint
Black Beans and Feta
Heirloom Tomato Salsa
Apple Crisp
Homemade Caramel Ice Cream
Celeste's Mud Bars


  1. Wow! You need to start an entirely new series. "How We Do It, The Salon."
    Thought of you and your Norwegian Lutefisk yesterday when at the gathering after the memorial service I attended, there was a casserole of Norwegian Hot Dish which my aforementioned friend Anna had made at the request of Taylor. I call it "Tot Dish" because it has Tator Tots on top. And it is delicious. You could do a Garrison Keillor book and serve this. No. Not very sophisticated but comforting, nonetheless.

  2. A menu not unlike an episode of Anthony Bourdain, the table sagging under the weight of so much glorious food. Yummy daydreams over here. xo

  3. Bravo for even trying the lutefisk, which I've never had but is legendarily an acquired taste. (Is legendarily a word?) I would love to go to Norway and see what they eat there, compared to what Norwegian-Americans eat. I wonder if it's substantially different?

  4. I'm hosting my book group in November and thinking of suggesting this book. I don't think I'll be doing lutefisk though. The dinner party menu from "To the Lighthouse" though--oh my yes!


  5. Who needs lutefisk with all that other yummy food? You win the "Profiles in Cooking Courage and Authenticity" award, though . . . :)

  6. I am so sorry I missed this. I doubt I would have tried the lutefisk but the rest sounds yummy. It he book was a good read. I feel I should submit a book report now...

  7. I spent 7 weeks in Norway in 1981 and never was offered lutefisk. If it would have been like that, I am happy!

  8. I am currently re-reading Vita's letters to VW, so imagine my delight to hear you suggest To the Lighthouse. That should give everyone something substantial to chew on.



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