Archive for December, 2018

“Well, we tried the lutefisk trick to keep the raccoons away and it worked, but now there’s a family of Norwegians living under the front porch!” ~Author unknown, from an Ole and Lena joke

My Swedish mother made the best meatballs this side of Stockholm, but that was everyday food. Her special Christmas Eve dinner was lutefisk, and to me, it is the stuff of nightmares rather than Christmas dreams. Lutefisk is a white gelatinous odiferous fish, served with boiled potatoes and cream sauce. Everything on the plate was white, except for the melted butter and an occasional peppercorn from the cream sauce. Dessert was another tradition, risgrynsgrot, or rice pudding. The pudding was cooked slowly on the stovetop like a risotto and was also pure white, as nothing was added except sugar, vanilla, and milk. Sometimes, we added canned wild raspberries on top for both color and flavor. If you ever get a chance to try risgrynsgrot, don’t pass it up, as it is every bit as heavenly as Christmas Eve itself. Apparently, my dad’s Finnish mother also made lutefisk on Christmas Eve, so each and every year, my parents would go on and on about how delicious that lutefisk was, and each and every year, made us try a small bite. I could never stomach it, but would manage to fill my belly on REGULAR fish (because Mom felt sorry for us), potatoes, and that wonderful pudding. In our family’s tradition, an almond would be buried in one lucky person’s bowl, and that person got to open the first present. Over the years, my sister went to the dark side and now enjoys an occasional lutefisk meal, but I honestly think she eats it for the tradition rather than the taste. With parents gone and a busy Christmas Eve church schedule, we now make our own traditions, and those traditions don’t involve smelly fish. Sometimes we all go out for dinner, and sometimes we share appetizers at home. Sometimes, we have something white on the menu, just for old time’s sake. A couple of years ago, we blended up a concoction of Malibu rum, coconut cream, and ice called “Sex on a Snowbank”. It was white, all right. My strict Lutheran lutfisk-loving ancestors would probably have disapproved, but it was delicious. So delicious, in fact, that the family of Norwegians would probably have crawled out from under the front porch and joined us for a cup of Christmas cheer.


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