Sons of Norway set to dish up the magic ‘lute

POULSBO — Lutefisk giants Eric Perkins and Charles Jensen are notorious for their abilities to consume copious amounts of the dish at Viking Fest.

However, lost in all the pageantry of their gluttony is the true cultural significance to Norwegians and other Scandinavians.

“I grew up with it,” explained Sons of Norway Administrator Mariann Samuelsen. “Every second day of Christmas we had lutefisk.”

Samuelsen, who grew up on Norway’s west coast, said the dish often brought families together as aunts, uncles and cousins would all gather for the traditional meal.

That tradition will continue from noon to 5 p.m. Nov. 5 at the Sons of Norway lodge with adult tickets at $15 and children 10 and younger at $10. Even so, not every Norwegian grew up eating the lye-soaked cod, and like other ethnic foods, it has its own unique variations, Samuelsen said.

“On the east coast, it’s not a common as it is on the west coast,” she said. “A lot of people from Oslo didn’t grow up with it either.”

Across Norway, lutefisk is served with either bacon and bacon grease, butter or white sauce, she said.

“The closer you get to Sweden, the more people serve it with white sauce,” Samuelsen said, noting that butter is the most common flavoring in western Norway.

The delicacy has a long and storied history throughout the country, but as times have changed, so has its preparation.

“In the olden days, they used to put it in the bathtub and soak it in lye,” she said. “Now most everyone buys it already made.”

With lutefisk comes a mix of side dishes, with potatoes and carrots being the most common, she said.

“Potatoes are everywhere in Norway and we eat them with just about every meal,” she said.

In keeping with the varied servings of the savory dish, cooks at the Sons will feature all three, so everyone’s preferences should be met, she said, adding that lutefisk won’t be the only entree on the menu.

“A lot of people don’t care for lutefisk and this gives them a chance to taste it,” she said. “If they don’t like it, we’ll be serving meatballs as well.”

For those in search of something to satisfy their sweet tooth, the Sons’ lefse will be coated with butter, sugar and cinnamon.

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