Ahh... the Big Canoe Lutefisk Supper! Every year the church community comes together to raise funds by serving the smelliest fish around. There is more than just cod soaked in lye, the supper consists of mashed potatoes, meatballs, rutabaga, green beans, lefse, jello salad (you can't be in a church basement without jelly salad), cookies, milk, and coffee. I personally don't each lutefisk so I go for the meatballs myself. The cookies and lefse are all made by the community and donated. Many of the cookies are of Scandinavian nature including krumkake, rosettes, kringle, and spritz. Outside of the food, the supper also includes the opportunity to get to know your neighbors and enjoy small talk with other Norwegian fanatics just like you. You aren't seated at your own table unless you have a large group so you may sit next to an 8 year old lutefisk lover or an 80 year old. You will enjoy the conversation either way.
I grew up in the church which meant that I often helped with this supper too. The Luther League would spend the week before the feast cleaning the fish by soaking in water then squeezing the water out before returning to ice again in an effort to remove as much of the lye as possible. We would do this every night for a full week. It was my least favorite task I ever had to do as a church volunteer. On the night of the supper we would have to clean and set tables, wash dishes, and sell picked herring.
Fast forward to now, not a lot has changed. The Luther League is still helping out with all the same tasks and the fish still stinks. Speaking of nothing changing, the same woman has helped with cooking the fish for 46 years! That is amazing! I learned this when I overheard the remaining fish crew talking about her deserving a medal. I agree, putting up with that job (perhaps she really likes it and eats it too) for all those years makes her a saint in my eyes.
A few upgrades since the years I saw there were a nice surprise. First off, the dishes were paper. Back in the day we used real plates, coffee cups, and water cups which meant a lot of washing. I mean a lot of washing! The church doesn't have a dishwasher so everything is washed by hand still. Another upgrade was "to-go" orders. You could cut the waiting line and take the food to go through the side door of the kitchen. This is what my hubby and I ended up doing so that we could head back to the cities a little earlier. While on the subject of take out, there was a woman who showed up with a laundry basket. This wasn't her first rodeo. She had ordered six meals which enticed me to call her "nuts" with her responding "are you kidding me? This stuff is awesome!" I'll take her word for it.
As I was there taking pictures I ran into a number of people that I grew up around. Old neighbors, friends, family, and other church members. The community support that these people offered to me as a kid was something I took for granted until I moved to a big city. After a few years of living in Minneapolis, I realized I missed many of the perks that come from living in a small community. Yes everyone knows everything about you and your dog, but honestly that is kind of nice. I had shared previously on this blog and on Facebook that my husband and I had suffered three miscarriages in the last couple years. It was so sweet to hear the kind words of encouragement and learn that we have an entire army of people praying and rooting for us to become parents. People came up to me giving me a hug like they had waited months to do so. It is like one giant extended family. When struggling through our losses we certainly had people in the cities to support us, but not many had known me as long as the people at church had. I loved attending the supper and catching up with everyone. Putting up with the lutefisk smell was certainly worth it.
So if you are looking for a great Norwegian experience, watch the blog because I will post about it next year as the date approaches. The dinner will be around $15 per person, but the experience will be priceless.