Northern journalists taunt each other with lutefisk

Cod plus Lye plus Time equals Lutefisk (PHOTO: Rachael Moore, Flickr Creative Commons license)

Cod plus Lye plus Time equals Lutefisk (PHOTO: Rachael Moore, Flickr Creative Commons license)

The “Great Northern” states extend from the Dakotas through Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan and are marked by the strong and enduring influence of Scandinavian immigrants. In addition to being the genetic forebears of many people who live here, these Scandinavians (Norwegians and Swedes, in particular) brought and kept many traditions that have lasted to this day.

One of the most pungent and persistent traditions is the making and, (mouth barf, swallow), eating of lutefisk. Lutefisk is cod. But not cod like you would eat if you had any other way of eating cod. They soak the cod in lye to preserve it, rendering it into some kind of rubbery gel which can be stored unrefrigerated for a very long time. When you’re ready to eat it, you “reconstitute” the lutefisk in water and serve it up. It tastes like cod. And lye.

If you talk to people in by-God, for-real Scandinavia, they’ll tell you they don’t eat much lutefisk, because they have refrigerators now and would rather eat their cod fried, grilled or whatever one does with a fish to make it taste good. Lutefisk is a reminder that the people who fled for America were poor, didn’t have refrigeration, and needed lutefisk as a way of storing protein for lean times.

Anyway, I’m bringing this up because last week the news staff at the Grand Forks Herald recorded themselves eating lutefisk, then challenged their competitors at the Fargo Forum and Bemidji Pioneer to do the same, or else donate to charity. Though this news room lutefisk challenge hasn’t exactly caught on, the Bemidji Pioneer did, in fact, eat lutefisk on camera.

They have since challenged the Alexandria Echo Press and Brainerd Dispatch to do the same.

So, who’s next?


  1. Denis Liljedahl says

    Water bucket challenge or lutefisk eating challenge? I don’t think there would as many volunteers for the latter, especially down south.

  2. You gonna finish that? (Swedes like it, too)

  3. I’m as tired of hearing about the horribleness of lutefisk as I am about hearing about hearing about the horribleness of fruitcake. Find a different holiday subject, humorous people.

  4. No offense, Aaron. It’s my own fault for listening to KDAL AM during the day. They’re a wacky bunch.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.