A lutefisk Valentine

Whatcom County Norwegians elsker lutefisk

Photo: Solveig Lee Jack Larson and Albert Larwen enjoy lutefisk and lefse in their matching Norwegian sweaters.

Photo: Solveig Lee
Jack Larson and Albert Larwen enjoy lutefisk and lefse in their matching Norwegian sweaters.

Solveig Lee
Mount Vernon, Wash.

February 13—the day before Valentine’s Day! Sons of Norway Wergeland Lodge #21 planned a new twist for a Valentine treat. It was a blustery, wet evening, but that did not deter the Norwegians and company from indulging in one of their favorite fish dinners. Many wore those famous Norwegian sweaters! They headed to the waterfront, to the site of an old yacht club. There, Windows of the Bay catered their feast of lutefisk and meatballs, with lots of melted butter, string beans, gravy, and lefse.

Diners—97 strong—sat at round tables with fellow Norwegians and at least one Icelander. Many were second and third generation Norwegians, though some were present who were born in Norway and now live in Whatcom County, Washington. They were quite at home sitting near the windows through which many boats were seen tied up at the pier. At the close of dinner, Ron and Don Arntzen served all in attendance krumkake and ice cream.

Photo: Solveig Lee Ron Arntzen distributes krumkake and ice cream to appreciative guests.

Photo: Solveig Lee
Ron Arntzen distributes krumkake and ice cream to appreciative guests.

To be sure, many memories can be told of experiences retained by those in attendance. Kirk Eid, a commercial fisherman, has a great love for lutefisk. He recalled his growing-up days in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Dried fish were stacked on the back porch. Fish was soaked in lye. He told of the cleansing. The family would have a dinner gathering of 18 for lutefisk, as well as 13 sheets of lefse made prior to Christmas, on Christmas Eve. His family moved west when his father, Elme Ouim Eid, became administrator of St. Luke’s Hospital in Bellingham. Now, Kirk orders 15 pounds of lutefisk every Christmas so he can continue to enjoy the tradition in Laurel in Whatcom County.

This delightful Valentine feast was co-chaired by lodge president Elaine Grasdock and Vaughn Hagen.

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 26, 2016, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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