I may not be ethnically Scandinavian, but feel just as Scandinavian as most any Scandinavian.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I was adopted from South Korea by a Scandinavian family when I was about six months old. While my parents didn’t observe many Scandinavian traditions, my grandparents did. My grandma decorated her kitchen with those little blue plates and made pepparkakor cookies. When we visited their home in Cuyahoga Falls, OH, I looked forward to sitting on her couch and flipping through her big book about Norwegian trolls.
We celebrated most of our childhood holidays with my mom’s cousins family. They make lefse every Christmas and I’m excited to have recently learned how to make it for myself (you can read about my first lefse-making adventure here). One of my cousins married into another Scandinavian family. We celebrated a holiday at their house where I tried pickled herring and actually liked it. Now, I’m married to a man of Scandinavian descent whose family is named after a small town in Norway.
This weekend, Jake and I attended the Traditional Norsk Christmas event at the Sons of Norway lodge near downtown Fargo. I had seen the event advertised in the local papers and didn’t want to miss this opportunity to share authentic Norwegian foods. We arrived an hour into the event and settled into the back of the long line which snaked around the lodge. Fortunately, it moved relatively quickly. We were entertained by admiring the silent auction items and taking in the atmosphere. Dark wood paneling and regal, Scandinavian wallpaper. There were lots of Vikings and trolls who appeared in paintings and sculptures everywhere. We also admired the other attendees’ outfits. Many wore their best Scandinavian sweaters while others wore suits.
We tried a little bit of everything from the buffet spread. Fresh fruits and vegetables. Lefse and flat breads. Meatballs in a creamy gravy and spicy barbecue sauce. Thick slices of silky and buttery cured salmon and briny, pickled herring. A man carefully carved a large block of Gjetost cheese.
There were also numerous baked goods and desserts. Slices of bread with candied fruits and the obligatory lefse with butter and brown sugar. Cones of krumkake that tasted like homemade waffle cones. Delicate rosettes that literally melted in our mouths. Soft, heart-shaped waffles. And chewy rings of kransekake that tasted like almond.
And then there was the rommegrot.