Lutefisk supper lives on: Adjusting to life in my hometown

(Following is my column, which appeared in the Tues., Oct. 2nd edition of the Devils Lake Journal where I am a reporter/writer. For more info about my hometown of Devils Lake, North Dakota, visit

I recently heard that St. Olaf Church, which I attended while growing up here in DL, is having its annual Lutefisk Supper. For some reason I wondered recently – maybe because I live near the church – if it still had its lutefisk suppers.

As a kid I liked fish. My Dad/Fast Eddie took my sis and I fishing when we were little, and my family did a lot of camping, so we ate a fair amount of fresh fish in the summer. I also liked fish sticks and tuna fish. However, I do not recall being fond of lutefisk, and I can safely say that I haven’t had it in at least 30 plus years!

I googled Lutefisk and Wikipedia describes it as “made from aged stockfish (air-dried whitefish) or dried/salted whitefish (klippfisk) and lye (lut). It is gelatinous in texture, and has an extremely strong, pungent odor.” Now doesn’t that sound appetizing.

During my Big City years in Denver and D.C., I was a member of two different Lutheran churches, none of which had any Lutefisk themed meals. I wonder if it’s because they were much newer churches than St. Olaf, which recently celebrated its 125th anniversary. In fact, a St. Olaf member recently told me that he thinks the church has been having its annual Lutefisk dine fest for some 80 years.

I think it’s great to carry out such long-standing traditions, especially related to food. Fast Eddie is a fantastic cook and baker, and each year he makes a number of yummy concoctions for holidays, including the world’s best rhubarb pie and German coleslaw. The other day I asked Pops why he hadn’t made his tasty bean crockpot dish in awhile – he used to make it most Christmas Eves. However, I haven’t been back to ND for a few years for Christmas, or Thanksgiving, so maybe it was just me that missed. In fact, this will be the first year I’ll be DL for Christmas in some time, so maybe I’ll just have to make the bean dish myself! About 10 years ago, our family revived a food dish from our past that my Grandma B. used to make, and now it has a regular appearance on the table at most holidays and family gatherings. We call it the green salad, and I think it has lime jello and cottage cheese and I’m not sure what else. I’ll have to ask Fast Eddie.

This month I think I will mosey on over to St. Olaf for its Lutefisk supper. According to Wikipedia, it sounds like all I’ll have to do is follow my nose.

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2 Responses to Lutefisk supper lives on: Adjusting to life in my hometown

  1. “Gelatinous in texture, and has an extremely strong, pungent odor.”

    The pungent odor wouldn’t put me off; I grew up eating radish salad, which tastes wonderful if you can get past the fact that it smells a bit like human gas. I also grew up eating various kinds of smoked fish (salmon, trout, sable).

    The gelatinous texture, on the other hand . . . Does it still have a piscine shape?

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