I asked at the information booth about THE new food at the Minnesota State Fair: Crispy Lutefisk Steamed Buns. Judging from the knowing “here’s another one” look on the volunteer’s face, I figured that the word was out and fair goers were going for the lutefisk a lot. Indeed, there were 173,724 people in attendance that Sunday, and I was sure that all but five of them were there to try the lutefisk!
Jane Legwold and I made our way through the crowds of strollers and backpacks and people waiting in long lines for Pronto Pups. (An average of nearly 30,000 Pronto Pups are sold daily at the fair.) We finally reached Shanghai Henri’s, where the Crispy Lutefisk Steamed Buns entree was sold. Now, the lines were nothing like Pronto Pup lines, but business was brisk. The guys waiting on me said they sold out of the “lutee” the day before, and things were hopping already at 11 a.m. In fact, the orders of “two lutees and a 20 oz.” (of beer) were in the air when I waited for my order. (Was the beer for washing down the food or for bracing for the lutefisk?)
I received my four buns, each cuddling a slice of baked lutefisk. The lutefisk was not boiled and jelly-like, which took off the table one of the typical complaints about lutefisk. Also, there was no fishy odor, another plus. The fish was covered with a delicious sweet hoisin sauce, then baked and topped with sesame seeds. Beneath the lutefisk was a blend of cabbage, carrots, cilantro and yum yum sauce.
I was about ready to eat my first bite, but I paused. It was the same kind of pause that happens before you push off on a zip line. A nearby man had been watching me. He laughed and shouted, “What are you waiting for?”
I smiled and said, “I’m collecting my thoughts.” I could have meant I was collecting my thoughts before I put together a prayer for strength and tolerance.
In a word, it was tasty. The hoisin over the fish and the vegetables dominated, but I could still detect enough of the lutefisk flavor to tell that it was indeed lutefisk. The bun was OK but a bit filling, but all in all the dish was good and very creative.
A man sat nearby with his daughter, I assumed, and appeared to be enjoying his lutefisk. His unsmiling daughter gave him sideways glances as if to say, “Dad, don’t do that in public.” She smiled when I asked her about what she thought of lutefisk and said she doesn’t eat it. The dad said he liked it and was impressed that for $14.25 there was a lot of food in the serving.
I asked another man what he thought of the lutefisk. “You know, I have not had lutefisk in 10 years,” he said, chuckling. “When I saw this was a new food at the state fair, I had to come and give it a try. I like it.”
There was relief in the responses, not only that the lutefisk was fun and tasty … but that the tasters had lived to tell about it.
The Minnesota State Fair has never selected a lutefisk dish as one of its official new foods. Until now.
Now it’s the dish on everyone’s radar as we approach the Aug. 24 kickoff to the Great Minnesota Get Together: Crispy Lutefisk Steam Buns at Shanghai Henri’s food stand.
Star Tribune July 14, 2023
The good is that lutefisk is finally getting its moment on the big stage, the Minnesota State Fair, the second largest state fair attracting 2 million visitors in 12 days, compared with Texas, the largest state fair attracting 2.25 million in 24 days. And the vendor has ordered 2 tons of lutefisk for the fair. Impressive!
The not-so-good, perhaps, is the State Fair lutefisk will be dressed up so much that it won’t look like lutefisk nor taste much like it, either. “The exterior,” says the article, “is brushed with sweet-salty hoisin sauce and broiled until there’s a crispy crust.” This preparation of lutefisk is served in white-bread soft buns (see opening photo).
I gotta admit, that looks and sounds delicious, and I am making a special trip to the State Fair to sample it. (I think the last time I was at the State Fair was in 2018 when I just had to try Uffda Ale, a beer with a lefse crisp served on the side. It was good!) My hope is a lot of people try the State Fair lutefisk and like it and become lutefisk fans.
My fear is this: If and when they try traditional lutefisk—no hoisin sauce or broiled crust, just a white sauce or melted butter—they’ll be bummed and feel duped, joining the ranks of lutefisk haters who have good stories about bad lutefisk. Or think about this: What if they do like it and go around crowing about how great lutefisk is. Hmmm. It’s like they passed a test but the test was watered down, or in this case hoisined up. So without the fishy smell or the jelly texture that lutefisk veterans have proudly endured (like war scars), there was nothing to hate—and part of the lore of lutefisk is the love-hate. Lutefisk lovers still like to poke fun at lutefisk but feel as if they have earned the right to be in an elite club of true lutefisk lovers who fully comprehend the lye of lutefisk.
I’m hopeful, however, and optimistic. This State Fair lutefisk shows imagination and a willingness to honor a grand old traditional food by adding some pizzaz. (Hey, I’ve made aquavit lefse, so I get it. ) That lutefisk finally has become a State Fair food is an indicator that this delightful, disputed, enduring and I dare say endearing dish is important to a lot of people. Otherwise, it would not be at the State Fair.
But if you don’t make it to the State Fair but do make it to a church basement dinner where the lutefisk is not overcooked or, better yet, a lutefisk dinner prepared by a friend, then expect a wonderful meal—I kid you not—that you’ll remember the rest of your life.
“Travel expands the mind and loosens the bowels,” wrote author and physician Abraham Verghese in Cutting for Stone. This quote came to mind in my game safari last month to the Africa countries of Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia. An elephant stomped around my tent building in the first camp in Zimbabwe. It purred as it ate and moved (I didn’t know elephants purred), and I thought it was a lion sizing up its next meal. When it bulled its way through the bush inches away from the window near my ear, I knew it was an elephant and hoped a hip sway wouldn’t wipe out my sanctuary. It didn’t, but at breakfast a fellow traveler asked about my night. I told him of the elephant, and added that the incident was frightening enough to “end whatever travel constipation I had.”
The trip was a celebration of 50 years of marriage to Jane Legwold, and it was wonderful. Oh, the awe of finding and being really close to and hearing the hippos, hyenas, giraffes, lions, cape buffaloes, leopards, kudu, impalas and on and on. The spellbinding tales told by the guides. The history of these young countries in the context of colonialism. The tea times and sundowners in the bush. The elegant meals and deep conversations in camp. The sunny rains and rainbows of Victoria Falls. The spooky majesty of the baobab trees. The kindness and humor and constant singing — really good singing — of the people. By all means, go to Africa.
Mopane Worms vs. Lutefisk
The safari was getting away, far away, from our normal lives in Minneapolis. No one knew of lefse and lutefisk, except when someone would ask about my books, and it was nice to escape and expand the mind. However, lutefisk came to mind when I ate mopane worms.
Mopane worms contain higher protein than other sources such as chicken and milk. In rural areas, worms are an affordable supplement for protein. Still, it is a worm, a fairly big, juicy worm that is fried with butter and tomatoes and served for dinner.
Many people in our group politely declined, but Jane and I said sure, we’ll each try one mopane worm. After all, we had eaten lutefisk and lived to tell about it. Because of that, I felt my companions were at a disadvantage and perhaps secretly wished that they had been lutefisk lovers.
When the moment of truth arrived for the happy couple celebrating 50 years of marriage, I volunteered Jane to go first. She did but not quietly. I followed, getting on my knees in the dark hut where women prepared the mopane worms in a skillet over a low stove. Based on my first experience with lutefisk, I knew it was best not to think about it. I popped that critter in my mouth and chased it with a few tomatoes to buffer whatever may come next. The worm was salty and crunchy, which made me wonder about what is crunchy in a worm. I stopped wondering quickly; I didn’t want to know. I swallowed and smiled and headed out of the hut for fresh air and sunshine.
Mopane wasn’t bad, but I’ll take lutefisk any day.
Ah lutefisk, the food we love to hate … and, as it turns out, the food we hate to love. We carp about the lye and the smell of lutefisk, but we do so out of love. C’mon, if we didn’t love lutefisk, would the Lutefisk Limerick Contest have resulted in 123 lutefisk limericks? If we truly hated this maligned and most misunderstood food, no one would bother to agonize into the wee, dark hours to get that most brilliant limerick rhythm and rhyming just right — and then do it again and again because writing limericks is so much fun. No, the Lutefisk Limerick Contest would have been a bust.
But I am busting with happiness that so many people — one even from Berlin — have let their sense of humor and passion for our uniquely Scandinavian ish-fish override their aw-shucks notion that they have nothing to offer to the world of premier poetry. Uff-da!
Champion Peter Holbrook
I am most happy to say that the Lutefisk Limerick Contest has a champ. He is Peter Holbrook of Minneapolis, shown above! Congratulations, Peter, who wins the above Glass-Honey Locust rolling pin!
Peter submitted five limericks, and four of them could have been the winning limerick. Here they are:
From assassins King Harald had flown
And he wandered the land all alone.
So we made him a bisque
Made of stale lutefisk
Now he sits on the porcelain throne.
“If God loves us sinners,” said Tommy,
“Why is there still lutefisk, Mommy?”
“It’s a cross we must bear,
So just say a prayer
And eat it, before it gets gummy.”
A young jellyfish on vacation
Laid her eggs by a nuclear station
And when they were hatched
We caught us a batch
Of the best lutefisk in creation!
At dinner, Lord Henry was stricken
The inspector was stumped, ‘til it hit him.
“That bit of white goo
On his chin is a clue:
‘Twas the lutefisk supper that did ‘im!”
People’s Choice Awards
This year I am introducing an idea that came from Jim Leet of Roseburg, Oregon. Jim has placed in past Lefse Limerick Contests and is entered in the Lutefisk Limerick Contest. Jim’s idea for the People’s Choice Awards is to list the best of the rest of the lutefisk limericks that were not penned by the champion and then let voters determine who wins the prizes for second, third and fourth places.
Second place prize:
Third place prize:
Fourth place prize:
Below are 20 pretty dang good lutefisk limericks worthy of winning the above prizes. The lutefisk limericks are listed by number only, not by name. Vote for the number of your three most favorite limericks. You can vote for your own limerick and two other limericks by someone else. Vote simply by emailing me at email@example.com and make sure you vote by end of day April 1, 2023.
Here are the 20 lutefisk limericks eligible for the People’s Choice Awards. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org by end of day April 1st, and include the numbers of your three favorites.
Such a clever Norwegian well bred
is that Helga who uses her head
to wear lutefisk perfume
that will empty the room
leaving lefse the others have fled.
"Is the lutefisk that takes you two weeks
really worth," I inquired, "what it wreaks?"
The reply was, "Of course,"
from some salty old Norse,
"beats the hell out of turkey and leeks."
Ole’s old “Homemade Recipe Primer”
Has this secret for making one trimmer:
On your lutefisk, pour prunes
About 10 tablespoons
And, you betcha, you soon will be slimmer.
Single Ole's date was going well
They ate lutefisk and his heart did swell
Other girls ran away,
But this sweet gal did say,
"With long COVID, I can't taste or smell."
There once was a man named Ole
Who loved Lutefisk - ate it solely.
He noticed one day
Even flies stayed away
But Lena's attraction - unholy.
A stinky old dish is the lutefisk;
To taste it is taking a grave risk.
It smells like your feet
Not like something to eat
And its trip through your stomach is quite brisk.
"A codpiece"? What comes to mind?
Something of a "manlier" kind
Than stinky lye fish
Served hot in a dish
But in Norway, that's what you'll find.
The lutefisk smelled like a latrine
Its edges had turned a light green
I heard someone mutter
“Just add some more butter”
Then everyone licked their plates clean
A gooey Norwegian fish mess
The recipe’s anyone’s guess
But lutefisk still stays
In Norse holidays
Some think it deserves better press
Lutefisk – you love it or not
Some think it quite like warm snake snot
But others declare love
And always want more of
This Viking treat fresh from the pot
Sven’s girlfriend Britt was a sinner
But she made him lutefisk for dinner
When she served it hot
And Britt was revered as a winner
With lutefisk for breakfast each morn
Add butter and spuds to adorn
White sauce laced with dill
Just sit back and chill
It makes you so glad you were born
A lovely lass welcomed Leif in.
“The feast is about to begin!”
Leif took a great risk
and tried lutefisk.
“I’m vegan….” he said with chagrin.
There once was a Viking named Thor
Who kept lutefisk outside his door.
The raccoons ran away,
And the bears said, “No way!”
But the skunks all said “Let’s have some more!”
An aging old Norskie named Luke
Made some lutefisk, just on a fluke.
Ma said, “It looks great,
And fits nice on my plate
But the smell of it might make me puke.”
Per died and so, dust to dust,
Ole stood up to say what he must,
"Per liked lutefisk best,
Thought this world was a mess."
His motto was: "In cod we trust!"
Lutefisk is internationally notorious
And its preparation somewhat laborious
But with lefse and butter
The experience is utter-
Ly, fabulously lipsmackingly glorious
I care for lutefisk jokes not a whit
Think up one and I’ll call you a twit
The dish is delicious
No need to be vicious
I’ll eat yours if you want to get rid of it
It's a mystery down through the ages
This fish delicacy thought from the sages
But the recipe was wrong
With lutefisk all along
It was PIE not LYE on the pages.
There once was a cod in the sea.
Caught by a fisherman was thee.
They soaked it in lye
for a Scandinavian high.
Plugging your nose is the key.
Again, email me at email@example.com with the numbers of your favorite three. The People’s Choice Award winners will be named in the April newsletter. Good luck, all!
Once again, I run the risk of offering a limerick contest, and this time the 3rd Annual Lefse Limerick Contest is actually the Lutefisk Limerick Contest. It’s time to give lutefisk its due. Can I have an AMEN?
So start cranking out the lutefisk limericks and send them my way. The Lutefisk Limerick Contest runs throughout the rest of the month of February until March 16, 2023. That means one month of oodles of doodles about our favorite love-hate topic, lutefisk.
Refresher on limerick writing:
Make sure you have seven to nine beats in the first, second, and fifth lines, with the last word in those lines rhyming.
Have five to seven beats in the third and fourth lines, with the last word in those lines having a different rhyme than the last word in the first, second, and fifth lines.
You will rise quickly in the ranks if your lutefisk limericks adhere to these rules, or you’re pretty close 🤓. Email your lutefisk limericks to firstname.lastname@example.org.
High Risk, High Reward
Let’s get back to the risk. Wikipedia defines a limerick as “a form of verse, usually humorous and frequently rude,” in five-lines. Again, the first, second and fifth lines rhyme, and the third and fourth lines, which are shorter, have a different rhyme.
The form originated in England in the 18th century and became popular in the 19th century. Wikipedia says, “Gershon Legman, who compiled the largest and most scholarly anthology, held that the true limerick as a folk form is always obscene … . From a folkloric point of view, the form is essentially transgressive; violation of taboo is part of its function.”
Wikipedia cites the following example is a limerick of unknown origin:
The limerick packs laughs anatomical Into space that is quite economical. But the good ones I’ve seen So seldom are clean And the clean ones so seldom are comical.
A Clean Lutefisk Limerick
So you see the risk of running a Lutefisk Limerick Contest. To be true to form, a lutefisk limerick, it appears, should be “obscene” and “frequently rude” and a “violation of taboo.” Oh, dear!
Well, following the exact form of a limerick will never do in here Lefse Land. We have our fun with lutefisk, but we are never rude or obscene. No, no, no!
And yet … and yet … it is possible to dance along the borders of the true limerick to create an entertaining lutefisk limerick. Check this out:
There once was a Norsky named Niles He endured a rough month with the piles Ate lutefisk — cured! So please rest assured: On lutefisk lovers, God smiles.
There, that wasn’t so bad! I dance along the border of the true limerick with mention of “piles” in the second line, but I never cross the line. You must admit, the limerick could have gone decidedly south after that. But it didn’t, and we end up with smiles.
One Limerick Leads to Another
For the Lutefisk Limerick Contest, again, you must write a limerick about lutefisk—love it or leave it. Here’s one I just made up, for example. That’s the thing about limericks: You can’t write just one when you’re having so much fun.
Be happy, my friend! Be glad! Be well!
Lutefisk helps, oh, this I do tell.
It tastes great, so delish
Don’t dare call it ish
Provided (ahem) you get past the smell.
Ok, your turn. Write your lutefisk limericks and enter the contest. Keep it clean, remember, but be bold and walk the line! Check out this site on how to write a limerick. Again, do your very best with having seven to nine beats in the first, second, and fifth lines with the last word in those lines rhyming. Then five to seven beats in the third and fourth lines, with the last word in those lines having a different rhyme than the last word in the first, second, and fifth lines.
Send your lutefisk limerick or limericks to email@example.com. Submit as many lutefisk limericks as you want until midnight on March 16. Winners will be announced in my March newsletter. Oh, winners will receive:
FIRST PLACE: the first in my line, the Glass-Honey Locust Rolling Pin. I experimented with this combination of glass and wood, and construction of the pin posed several challenges. But the outcome is beautiful. The sturdy glass handles sparkle and feel great in the hands, and the prominent waves in the honey locust make it clear why this wood is named after the color of honey. This is truly a functional piece of art. Use the pin with a steel rod and ball bearings for a smooth roll, and then display the pin after use. Just take care with the handles. The glass is sturdy, but it is glass.
OTHER WINNERS. If you don’t win first place, there is a chance your lutefisk limericks can still win one of the following three prizes:
Now is the time for lutefisk limerick writers to rise up and put down bold and clever limericks about their favorite love-hate food. Enter the Lutefisk Limerick Contest by emailing limericks to firstname.lastname@example.org. You have until March 16, 2023. Good luck!
Memories and emotions are at the ready with lefse. It connects us with Grandma when Grandma is gone, and lefse causes us to rally and keep on rolling so eager grandkids can get in on this grand old tradition.
I’ve experienced three memorable and emotional lefse moments recently, and even one lutefisk moment.
The first was last weekend when I traveled to Bonfield, Illinois, to deliver to Chuck Voigt two rolling pins I made. Chuck and I were roommates when we attended the University of Illinois, Urbana, and we were pretty dang good singers in a campus group call The Young Illini. A derecho roared through his area two years ago and blew down trees. He asked if I wanted some walnut and ash for turning rolling pins, and I said sure. The wood needed time to dry, so I could not produce the pins last year. Plus, I needed time to improve my woodturning skills, so waiting until this spring worked just fine.
The pins I presented were beautiful. That’s how woodturning goes; you listen to the wood, uncover its art and then let it speak for itself. Where there were small cracks, I put in an inlay as a decorative filling. But the overriding beauty was in the moment. Old friends and old wood from a family farm converted into functional pieces of art that will last at least as long as our friendship has. We are both old enough to know that you don’t know what the future holds, that you take in these moments and savor them. For years and years, Chuck and I communicated once a year or so, but with the creation of these rolling pins, we were back and forth more in the last two years than in all the years since college. That is a good thing, to not let friends drift off and to keep friendships fresh. Chuck and I are going to keep on rolling!
The second memorable moment was a few weeks ago when a man who has been bed-ridden for the last year and a half with Guillain-Barre Syndrome contacted me, wanting fresh lefse. It was a joy to make six rounds and then later 12 more so that his friend could pick up the orders. Lefse stays with you throughout life. You may leave it for one reason or another for a while, but it won’t leave you. I once made lefse at a nursing home, and a man started crying as he chewed a buttered round. He said he hadn’t had lefse in 75 years. Oh, the memories of that man and this man with Guillain-Barre Syndrome. That’s the power of lefse.
The third memorable moment was a lutefisk moment last Christmastime. A woman wrote thanking me for providing Lutefisk Lip Balm, which is actually vanilla bean flavored. But it’s the label that sells this product, especially with the description of lutefisk at the side:”The Cod That Passes All Understanding”.
The woman said this about the Lutefisk Lip Balm. “My mom was in hospice at Christmas,” she wrote, “and it was the gift that generated the biggest smile! My mom just passed two weeks ago … “
The final moving moment was at the beginning of this month at Cragun’s Resort near Brainerd, Minnesota. I was rolling lefse and selling my stuff at the Sons of Norway District 1 Convention. I sold fresh lefse throughout the day, and fellow exhibitor, author and artist Sven Lindauer (The Art & Craft of Ancient Scandinavia), was primed for lefse at the end of a long day and asked that I save him two bags (six rounds).
He collected his two bags, and as I started to pack up, a dutiful delegate named Oscar entered the exhibitor’s room seriously seeking lefse. He was one of the delegates who actually attended the meetings he was supposed to, and only now had time to search for his lefse.
He was crushed when I said I was out, that my last two bags were just snapped up. The expression on Oscar’s face did not escape the eye of artist Sven. That’s what artists do, notice those things and paint them. (Sven mentioned that he was going to paint Oscar’s expression.)
Big-hearted Sven, who had been anticipating lefse all day and saying so many times, piped up and said that he would give Oscar one of his bags. Oh, the smile on Oscar’s face was actually noticeable, which is saying a lot for a Norwegian! Sven made Oscar’s day (week? month?) as well as mine. Sven knew the power of lefse, and we all knew the power of his sacrifice. Here’s to Sven … Saint Sven, Bringer of Norwegian Smiles and Other Miracles!
Wow! What a contest! The 2022 Lefse Limerick Contest produced such fun and fine limericks that it forced me to go to weeks of DOGGONE IT, MAKE A DECISION!! training — which I failed. It started, I suppose, with difficulty in choosing between Zoom and in-person. I blame it on carrying the burden/gift of being a Gemini.
But in my defense, these limericks were good and plentiful. One guy submitted 64 of them, and most of the entrants emailed multiple submissions, often with notes of thanks for offering the contest and giving them a chance to get away from the pandemic and the war and let loose the dogs of creativity! What a wonderful image of them noodling away at the kitchen table in winter’s bright slanting sun, with coffee and notebook and a grin to go with the limerick’s punchline.
This year’s contest was about lefse and love, not only about the fervor of loving lefse but also about the passion in loving someone. The charge was to do your best to follow the limerick’s engaging rhythm and rhyming. If you were a bit off in counting the beats, it hurt your chances slightly, but with just one slip, I let it pass.
So limerick lovers in Lefseland, without further adieu, I give you the winners of the 2022 Lefse Limerick Contest!
Margie Oloughlin, from Northfield, Minnesota, won the contest, and frankly, choosing the winner was relatively easy. Her entry had all the elements of a limerick — it reads with easy rhythm — and her combining lefse and love and passion and humor were spot on. Nice!
There once was a lefse-less Dane
Whose diet was woefully plain
Til she met a Norsk troll
And with him she did roll
And her night times were never the same
Under stars and the light of the moon
Lefse steamed amid kisses and soon
Through flour and frost
Their minds became lost
And the dish ran away with the spoon!
And for her wit, Margie wins the all-walnut lefse rolling pin below!
John Ofstehage, from Greenwood, Minnesota, tied for second place with this limerick combining online dating and lefse:
Online dating, I’ll give it a go
My profile, I want it to show
That I’m a skilled baker
A great lefse maker
Seeking someone, kneading the dough
Sonja (last name withheld), pictured with son Brandon, tied for second place. Sonja is from White Rock, New Mexico, and her limerick has some sass!
My love, it is high time we ate.
What is this round thing on my plate?
It's lefse my dear.
Please try not to jeer,
Or we may not have a next date.
Third Place Winners
OK, I was doing pretty well in my decision making until it came time to decide on third place. Then my decisiveness got decidedly worse. So I finally decided to duck the decision and award all who were in my third-place file. In no particular order, they are:
Howard Hoganson, from Grand Rapids, Minnesota, went on limerick bacchanalia and submitted 64 of them! My man! Here’s one:
Lefse is precious and blind
Each thin sheet is one of a kind
Mother them sweetly
And so completely
Love treasures so dear to the mind
Lisa R. Lukis, from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, saluted family tradition with this limerick. ‘Tates, btw, are potatoes.
Dad knows how to handle the ‘tates
‘Cause he hails from one of the greats
Came to this land
Love and lefse were her sweet traits
Heidi Bacon, from Red Wing, Minnesota, was one of last year’s winners. She’s back with this rather spirited limerick personifying lefse and butter:
There once was a lefse named Larry -
Sweet Butter he did want to marry
He gave her some sugar,
(She sure was a cougar)
But, uff da! She worth it? Yes, very!
Judy L. Halbakken, from Bellingham, Washington, submitted a lefse photo that matched the beauty in the above photo of her in the Pacific Northwest. Here is her limerick that mixes lefse, love, and …
There once was a young Norsky man
Who said to his wife, "If you can
Make lefse — I'll love you
With love always true,
But lutefisk she made, and he ran!
Jim Leet, from Roseburg, Oregon, is another winner from last year. Judging from the above picture and the number of limericks Jim submitted, it’s puppy love with him and limericks. Here’s one:
If lefse’s your favorite food
Enhancing your Norse attitude
Your passion for rounds
As strange as it sounds
Just makes you a loveable dude
Sheryl Hove, from St. Paul, Minnesota, submitted eight limericks, and here is her winner:
The lefse took hold of his heart
They pledged to never be apart
Then lut'fisk she cooked
And he suddenly looked
Like, so how did this marriage start?
Charles E. Voigt, from Bonfield, Illinois, pulled away from his Herculean task of cracking some 2,500 black walnuts to write six limericks, including this one about black walnut lefse.
Black walnuts make lefse appealing,
Rolled with brown sugar and feeling.
The flavor’s intense,
We’re not on the fence.
You’ll love it, so don’t hit the ceiling!
Mardi Knudson, from St. Cloud, Minnesota, proudly stands near the “Welcome Poets” sign, so you know her limerick has to have deep, deep thought and feeling. Here it is:
There once was a Norsky that cried,
"Make lefse dear Norwegian bride!"
Liv did roll those rounds
Feeding Leif big mounds
Till her hands and temper were fried!
John Ziegenhagen, from Minnetonka, Minnesota, was last year’s winner. John is a bit of a loose cannon with limericks, never afraid of inventing words to fit the line and always looking for the limerick gut punch. He submitted six limericks, and here’s one, influenced by the Bard, about a truly tragic kind of lefse love:
There once was a doofus named Romeo.
Who put in his lefse hemlockeo.
Poor Juliet took a bite,
And out went her light.
He’d killed her, of that, there’s no doubteo.
Portly Bard prefers not to use his name or reveal his location. He says he simply wants to be left alone to produce poetry and limericks, including this sweet winner:
True love is like lefse I'm told,
Hard work and delight to unfold.
If it's worth it today,
Make your lefse and say
"Next course is more Norse to behold."
Thanks, all lefse limericists who entered the contest. You have lightened the last couple of months, and let’s do it again next year. All of you who entered will receive the 2022 Let’s Make Lefse! Calendar.
This is an announcement of the first annual All Things Lefse Market next Saturday, October 16th, in my backyard. It is also a personal growth opportunity in that it encourages this Norwegian to do something un-Scandinavian: brag.
Do you know how hard it is for a Norwegian to boast? Certainly, some of you do. We’ve learned that tooting our own horn is just not done. If it’s good, whatever it is that you do or make, you don’t need to crow. No, no, no! What you do or make will speak for itself. In fact, if you speak for yourself, you and whatever you do or make are viewed with considerable suspicion, that your bluster is an effort to distract others from the flaws you are trying to hide. So, zip it. Let others speak for you and what you do or make — but when they do, you darn well better be quick to do a Norwegian Deflection in response, something along the lines of, “Shucks, it was nothing.”
Well, this All Things Lefse Market is not nothing. When I am at markets, there are all sorts of products to pull in customers, not just lefse. Not with this market. This All Things Lefse Market is an outdoor garden party featuring just lefse and all things related. I will be demonstrating lefse making, talking up my lefse classes, and showing off my lefse and lutefisk books. But that’s just a start. Yesterday, I spread all my lefse and lutefisk stuff over three large tables, and I certainly did not say that this spread was nothing. It was something, all the products I had developed over the years, very good products I am proud of.
There, it’s done. I sang my own praises and am glad. Sort of.
I hope you will be glad when you come next Saturday, October 16th, to the All Things Lefse Market between 9 am and 4 pm at 5205 Knox Ave. S. in Minneapolis. Weather looks great, and on display will be:
The most gorgeous heirloom lefse rolling pins and lefse turning sticks you’ll see anywhere. Think walnut, cherry, cocobolo, and spalted maple. These pins, including one I turned (my first), are made by members of the Minnesota Woodturners Association.
Lefse earrings, yep, made of lacquered lefse.
Lutefisk lip balm.
Lefse grills and replacement parts.
2022 Lefse calendar.
Lefse jigsaw puzzle.
Lefse rolling board and special blue rolling board cover.
Lefse rolling pin socks.
Colorful lefse cozies.
Vibrant countertop protectors for under your lefse grill.
Lefse hoodie that says “Lefse is cheaper than therapy!”
Lefse song score for voice and piano, also for men’s quartet.
Walnut flower vases.
Lefse and lutefisk greeting cards.
Nostalgic lefse mixing bowls.
Compression socks for making lefse all day.
Please come to the first annual All Things Lefse Market next Saturday 9 am to 4 pm at 5205 Knox Ave. S. in Minneapolis. It’ll help launch the lefse season and help me not feel rueful for tooting my own horn.
People who are overcome with gratitude will often say something like, “I am so thankful. I cannot express just how grateful I am.” And it’s true; gratitude cannot be quantified or magnified by adding words, in many cases. Don’t get me started on how a heartfelt “Thank you” cannot be topped by the gushing cliche of the times: “Thank you so much!” “So much” adds nothing and subtracts a bit of sincerity, IMHO. So please, leave off the “so much”, thank you.
But I digress. Last month I wanted to express just how grateful I was to my customers who allow this lefse train to keep on rolling. So free books were offered to anyone who emailed me. I did this last year and sent out a dozen or so free books, so I thought I’d do it again. I sent out the March enewsletter that included the free books offer.
I casually checked my email the night I sent out the offer, and there were scads of responses, like around 50. Yikes! I started adding up the shipping cost. Hmmm… . I have never done this before with my newsletter, but the next day my better-business self sent a follow-up “What was I thinking?” newsletter that said the free book offer would end at the end of the day.
So, after two days of checking emails and shaking my head—in gratitude—and then two more days of my grandson Zo and me stuffing envelopes, 105 books were lugged to the post office. I left my boxes overnight so that I not overwhelm the postal clerks.
When I returned the next morning to pay, I started to think that maybe you can quantify gratitude. I mean, shipping 105 books has to mean a ton of gratitude to my customers, even shipping at media rate, right? And certainly wasn’t I showing deep gratitude to my Canadian customers, since it is indeed a high price to pay for shipping anything to our northern neighbors?
After paying and as I folded up the 10-foot long receipt that listed all the tracking numbers, I reflected on what had happened. At the end of the day, I was glad for making the offer. I really was. I was grateful that there was so much interest in lefse and lutefisk books in this slow off season, and that people were expressing their gratitude for a chance to receive the books that I was glad to ship out. It was one grand gratitude fest, people thanking each other for thanking each other. I was especially gratified that most requests were for the book I have a special place in my heart for, my lefse novel, Final Rounds: On Love, Loss, Life, and Lefse. Very cool!
So I end with the only thing I can say, simply, to my customers in Lefse Land.
Being a poet of sorts and especially inspired by lefse and lutefisk, I wrote last month about the non-winners of Ingebretsen’s HaikUff-Da Poetry Contest. I was judge in the Christmas Foods and Traditions category. The non-winners I featured were good but they were non-winners because the poems had too many syllables in a line; haiku is strict about five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the third. Also, I was bound not to write about winners because Ingebretsen’s had not announced winners yet.
Well, the names of winners have been released, and the winners in the Christmas Foods and Traditions category are from New Mexico, South Dakota, and Minnesota. Who knew there were so many far-flung lefse and lutefisk haiku poets out there?
I must pat myself on the back because I am partial to lefse and lutefisk, and it was disciplined work not to favor haiku about my favorite foods. But I did it. The winner in my category, Doug Mattson from Albuquerque, NM, wrote about herring. So, good job Doug and good job Judge Gary!