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Finger lickin’ lute’ served up at Sons

POULSBO — Like the gears and gizmos of a smooth-running machine, volunteers at the Sons of Norway lodge hustled and bustled Saturday at a hectic, synchronized pace, as many with a decade’s worth of experience on their hands put together a lutefisk banquet of five-star proportions.

Besting the brightest an industrial kitchen can offer, teams of cutters, cookers, peelers and bakers whittled, stirred and boiled their way to serving up 340 dishes of Nordic delight for the 10th consecutive year.

Lodge vice president Fred Weatherford said it is the expertise of the cooking staff — which has become like a family of its own — that annually brings the smattering of lutefisk, meatballs, carrots, boiled potatoes, lefse, krumkake and ice cream to perfection.

“We just have a lot of expert help here,” he said. “There’s a standard crew that’s been cutting and cooking the lutefisk since we’ve been putting it on.”

Weatherford said the “labor of love” is one that grows a little each year, and has become known as a place families touring the lutefisk dinner circuit enjoy stopping by.

“We get people that gauge who’s is best,” he said, adding though the operation is much smaller to many in comparison, it still measures up extremely well. “We’ve been told that ours is better.”

Weatherford said while many attending the event can be lutefisk “purists,” others have a lesser appreciation for the codfish fixings, and to appease them, 1,946 Swedish meatballs were handmade.

“It’s a lot of hard work,” he said. “We just pull it all together.”

Long-time lodge member Vern Herrick agreed.

“There’s really nothing to it,” he said, pointing out again that the years of kitchen staff practice make it possible. “We do better than most people.”

Twelve-year-old Stephanie Doornink, who both served water and coffee and danced as a part of the Leikarringen children’s dance group, said the event is one she enjoys attending.

“It’s fun to help serving people,” she said. “Just being here is fun with all my friends.”

Lodge publicity director Darlene Berge said the day as a whole was a hit.

“It was just a steady stream” she said. “It was nice and the people enjoyed their food.”

Many of the attendees were out-of-towners brought to Little Norway specifically for the famed meal.

“We’ve come every year for I don’t know how long,” said Tacoma resident Val Gerjets of herself and Ruth Swanlund of Bremerton, who traveled together to the event. “We love lutefisk. Everything is delicious.”

Swanlund added the carrots are a unique touch to the dinner, and the dancing entertainment is always enjoyable.

Bremerton resident Sharon Guldjord, who attended the dinner with family from Yakima, including 4-year-old grandson Nickolas Knut Guldjord, said each of her grandchildren enjoys the Norse dish.

“They’re all good Norwegian kids,” she said. The atmosphere and view offered from the Sons of Norway lodge in Poulsbo are part of what makes the event her favorite of the lutefisk happenings, and relative Laurie Guldjord echoed the sentiment.

“We just like to carry on the tradition,” she said. “This is our favorite.”

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