Feeding appetites, fueling heritage

POULSBO — For at least one day a week, the smells of split pea soup, lefse and sometimes rullepulse drift down Front Street whetting the appetites of lunchtime visitors.

Following one’s nose leads to the Sons of Norway lodge and the sights of open-face sandwiches and other Norwegian delicacies waiting to be eaten at Kaffe Stua.

“Kaffe means coffee and stua is Norwegian for room, so it’s our coffee room,” explained Sons of Norway Administrator Mariann Samuelsen, as she pitched in to help replenish the rapidly disappearing specialties.

The luncheon, which began nine years ago, has become one of the group’s signature events, Samuelsen said.

“We have a lot of groups that will call and make reservations including Red Hat ladies and church groups,” she said. “It also attracts people visiting from Norway and other places as well.”

Those visitors can expect to receive a great traditional Norwegian lunch, explained Sons of Norway Treasurer Stan Overby, who is one of the originators of the event.

“It’s all Norwegian food and it’s the only place you can get real Norwegian food,” Overby said.

The event has been a steady draw throughout the year as it averages between 60 and 80 people a week regardless of the weather or season, he explained.

Even though other lodges have similar gatherings, Poulsbo’s is one of the best, remarked volunteer Arna Mathisen, who is known as the “lefse lady.”

“Seattle does one, too, but I don’t think they have as good of one as we do,” Mathisen said.

Poulsbo’s Kaffe Stua came about because several members thought it would be a good idea to serve a traditional Norwegian lunch in atmosphere similar to that found in Norway, she said, pointing out that she came to Poulsbo from Norway in 1947.

A group of eight volunteers arrive early every Wednesday to prepare for each week’s luncheon and even though it’s hard work, most of them keep coming back because they enjoy it, she said.

One of those hard-working volunteers, Vicki Arness said the fun keeps her coming back every week.

“It’s a lot of fun and the fact that the public is welcomed makes it great,” Arness remarked.

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