Love that lutefisk!
TOWNER, N.D. -- 'Tis the season here in the land of immigrant Norwegians to partake in the annual lutefisk suppers. Some would say the immigrant descendants eat the gelatinous lye-soaked codfish to remind themselves how much better off they are t...
TOWNER, N.D. -- 'Tis the season here in the land of immigrant Norwegians to partake in the annual lutefisk suppers.
Some would say the immigrant descendants eat the gelatinous lye-soaked codfish to remind themselves how much better off they are than their ancestors who left the old country and its lutefisk for a fresh start, and some fresh food, in America.
Lutefisk was the food of the poor people in Norway, I've been told. Those who left Norway 100 years ago or more were generally pretty poor. Makes sense, I guess. If they were rich, they'd have had no reason to leave. Our poor ancestors brought their food and their eating habits with them when they crossed the Atlantic.
Funny thing is, this poor folks fare costs upwards of $15 a plate these days. If it didn't cost so much, maybe people would eat it more than once a year. Or maybe not.
I'll admit I like lutefisk. Not so much that I could eat it every week, but come fall, I kind of crave the odiferous stuff.
I guess that's why I felt compelled to step up when the longstanding chairmen of our Lutheran men's lutefisk supper announced they were retiring from their duties. If no one took over the reins, the annual lutefisk supper would perish in our parish.
I found a couple of partners, and we took on the job of chairing the supper to give the community its annual fish fix.
A new day
I used to think holding elected office was kind of challenging until I became a church supper chairman. Chairing our men's lutefisk supper is way harder.
Not knowing any better, we suggested some changes for the supper. We proposed a move to a modified buffet style of serving the supper. It was kind of like proposing national health care reform or a reduction in carbon emissions. It raised a lot of eyebrows.
But the members gave us a chance and said we could give it a try. We had to reconfigure the flow of the fish and fixin's from the kitchen to the masses, but we got a system figured out.
Various crews got all the preparations made ahead of the supper -- cutting up the lutefisk, peeling the potatoes, making the meatballs. The women of the church took on the task of making most of the lefse and the apple pies for the supper.
Everyone took to their jobs with youthful enthusiasm, but the crews weren't necessarily youthful. The average age of our potato peeling crew was 80.2 years old. No wonder they call them the greatest generation. We did have a 44-year-old join the crew later in the peeling session, so maybe there's hope for a younger generation to help take up the paring knife.
The day of the supper brought out an abundance of help, though, both young and old. We had a 40-something protege dunking the cod into the copper boilers under the tutelage of the master chef. We had the usual crews doing the usual fine job of washing dishes, making coffee, cutting up pies and boiling potatoes. We had an attentive group of waiters seeing to the needs of the tables and some fine youngsters lending a hand to anyone who needed a little help with their plates. The new buffet line was a hit.
We had fathers and sons working together and men of the church from age 8 to 80 enjoying the fellowship and the fun of the effort. We raised some money for church projects, and we carried on a longstanding tradition involving the lowly lutefisk of our ancestors.
When the day was done, we'd served some 420 people. Therein lies the main point -- we served others. And serving others is good thing to do in a church, or anywhere for that matter. Even if it's lutefisk we were serving.