Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Lutefisk Dinner

Do you listen to Prairie Home Companion? Have you ever heard Garrison Kieler talk about Norwegians and lutefisk?

Wikipedia gives the following definition, and if you want to see a photo or know how to prepare it, you can check on the blue Wikipedia above:

Lutefisk (lutfisk) (pronounced [lʉːtəfɪsk] in Norway, [lʉːtfɪsk] in Sweden and the Swedish-speaking areas in Finland) is a traditional dish of the Nordic countries made from stockfish (air-dried whitefish) and soda lye (lut). In Sweden, it is called lutfisk, while in Finland it is known as lipeäkala. Its name literally means “lye fish”, owing to the fact that it is made with caustic soda or potash lye.

As I was googling lutefisk, I actually found a place you can order it at and it will look like this:


You probably won’t want to. Lutefisk is what poor immigrant Norwegians used to eat through the long winters. It is cod that has been soaked in lye and then dried to preserve it. It is also incredibly smelly. If you are at all sensitive to smell, you will probably not even be able to be in the same room with lutefisk.

Why am I telling you all this? Some people find lutefisk a rare delicacy; it brings back nostalgic memories of the good old days. Only in communities with pockets of heavy Scandinavian decent will you find signs on bulletin boards like this:


November 28, 2007 - Posted by | Community, Cooking, Cross Cultural, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Seattle, Travel | , ,


  1. You also find it at any Lutheran church with Scandinavian roots (vs the ones with German roots)any where in the US. I grew up in a German Lutheran congregation but now belong to a Scandinavian one. It seems to be a fall tradition that they have a lutefisk making get together at the church. In Iceland, their thanksgiving meal is in February and their traditional dishes are all things like shark pickled in uric acid and dried sheep’s skulls–food prepared from the old preservation methods. It is more of a “bottom of the barrel–we made it thru another winter” celebration. I wonder if the timing of the lutefisk is a preparation for hard times coming celebration or something?

    Comment by momcat | November 28, 2007 | Reply

  2. Thank you, Momcat. Everything I know about lutefisk, I learned from Prairie Home Companion!

    Comment by intlxpatr | November 28, 2007 | Reply

  3. I finally found someone on cyber space who likes Prairie Home Companion and Garrison Kiellor.

    Happy holidays

    Comment by Mushaakes | November 30, 2007 | Reply

  4. Oh, yes, Mushaakes, I am! I have even gone in person, when Garrison Kielor visited Seattle. I think he is a very creative, funny man. Did you know you can stream the NPR channels, even in Kuwait?

    Comment by intlxpatr | November 30, 2007 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: