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Bad Weather, Good Lefse

Invariably when Julie Ingebretsen and I meet at Ingebretsen’s Store in Minneapolis, it marks the start of lefse season. Last week I spoke to a class about lefse and lutefisk, and then I signed books in the gift shop.

This morning I look out my window, and a howling north wind is shoving treetops severely south, and slushy snow is slanting sideways. Ah, lefse season has begun!

Lefse is the ultimate comfort food, and pausing to eat it with a cuppa tea underscores the fact that you are nice and cozy and warm when the world outside is not. I maintain that making lefse has the effect of an anti-depressant. Rather than being subject to the dim, bleak, gray conditions that characterize foul weather, lefse makers defiantly thumb their nose and merrily roll a few rounds.

So, I welcome the first snowfall just as I welcome my annual appearance at Ingebretsen’s. Last week, I spoke there about lefse and lutefisk, signed books, and talked shop with Julie Ingebretsen, pictured.

I remember the first year I signed books at Ingebretsen’s in 1992. The Last Word on Lefse  was brand new, and the outside temperature on the day of my signing was frigid. And yet, as I approached to the store in my car, I could see a line of rather cheery pre-Thanksgiving shoppers coming out the door.

I quickly set up my table, which Julie had positioned right inside the store door so that shoppers could not miss me as they entered. Let’s sign some books!

And yet, bundled-up shoppers would invariably enter the store and move right past my table to the market section. Their primary mission in coming to this grand, old establishment was to purchase lefse, lutefisk, cheese, polse, smoked ham, meatballs, herring, blood sausage “klub,” and liver pate.

I waited, crestfallen, thinking something was wrong with my book or me.

Nothing was wrong. After shoppers had succeeded with their primary mission and allowed their bones to thaw in the warmth of the store, they relaxed and roamed—and eventually found my table full of lefse books. They’d smile, pick up that beautiful blue book, and say, “You wrote a whole book on lefse, then?”

In the end, sales were brisk, and it was a very good day. Bad weather, but a good lefse memory.

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