Opinion

Follow your nose to the Sons of Norway | Editor's Notebook

Volunteers at Kaffe Stua on Feb. 16 included, from left, Barbara Mitchusson, Aldeen Emrick, Vickie Arness, Priscilla Callahan, Gordon Nichol, Linda Abercrombie, Arna Mathiesen, Mary Gerstel.   - Molly Neely-Walker
Volunteers at Kaffe Stua on Feb. 16 included, from left, Barbara Mitchusson, Aldeen Emrick, Vickie Arness, Priscilla Callahan, Gordon Nichol, Linda Abercrombie, Arna Mathiesen, Mary Gerstel.
— image credit: Molly Neely-Walker

It was a beautiful Poulsbo day. The sun broke through the winter sky. The surface of Liberty Bay was ruffled by the wind. Boats bobbed at their moorage. People walked their dogs on the boardwalk that hugs the shoreline.

That was the view my Molly and I enjoyed as we lunched at Kaffe Stua, the Wednesday lunch in the Sons of Norway lodge. You don’t have to be of Norwegian ancestry to feel the velkommen at this lunch of traditional Norwegian dishes. And it’s a good thing. It’s quite an experience.

An army of volunteers put on this lunch every Wednesday without fail, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., a culinary balancing act because they never know how many guests they will have, and thus, how much food to prepare.

First, you’ll likely meet Stan Overby, who teaches the Norwegian language and is always ready to answer questions about “How do you say this” or “How do you say that” in Poulsbo’s second language. There are some tricky things: Say “Tusen takk,” and you’ve said “A thousand thanks.” Say “Tusen tak,” and you’ve said “A thousand roofs.” (By the way, “Kaffe stua” means coffee room).

A Herald reporter wrote very descriptively about Kaffe Stua on Aug. 10, 2005. “For at least one day a week, the smells of split pea soup, lefse and sometimes rullepolse 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 …

“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 … 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 …”

It was the same on Wednesday, although the number of weekly volunteers has grown. Vickie Arness, a native of Norway, has elevated sandwich making to an art form. Today’s soups were salmon chowder or white bean chili. There was pickled herring and rye bread. There was lefse, with butter or with sugar and cinnamon, and Barb Mitchusson didn’t mind my comment that it was like a Norwegian tortilla. “Every culture has its flatbread,” she said. We enjoyed Oslo kringle and krum kaka, a waffle cookie, for dessert.

By 11:30, the room was full of welcomes and hugs. Friends and neighbors chatted. Six years ago, in that earlier Herald story, Arness told the reporter that 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,” she said at the time.

As with all Sons of Norway events, proceeds help support the organization’s community philanthropy. Stop by some Wednesday. Just follow your nose.

— Richard Walker is editor of the Herald. Contact him at 779-4464 or email rwalker@northkitsapherald.com. He enjoyed the pickled herring on rye.

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