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Lutefisk Tradition Continues in the Northland

Posted at: 12/05/2012 7:20 PM
Updated at: 12/05/2012 7:37 PM
By: Maarja Anderson
manderson@wdio.com

It was a full house at First Lutheran Church in Duluth Wednesday night for their annual Lutefisk, Salmon & Meatball Dinner. Northlanders came from all over to get in line for the Scandinavian smörgåsbord.

Potatoes, meatballs, lefse, and even salmon filled the kitchen at First Lutheran, but the main course of the annual dinner was lutefisk. It's cod soaked in lye and then baked. Many Scandinavians said it's worth waiting in for a taste of their history.

"It kind of goes back to the early days when people were immigrants and they were kind of lonesome," said event organizer Bea Ojakangas.

There was a line out the door for the lutefisk and some visitors even came as far away as North Dakota, like Claudia Ziegler.

"Now if it's bad lutefisk, you got to hold your nose and let it slime and slide down," said Ziegler. "But if it's good lutefisk, it's wonderful."

At First Lutheran, lutefisk is about tradition and being a proud Scandinavian.

"I could smell it from a block away...I'd start smiling. It's the way it used to be," said Richard Dahlberg.

For some, tradition can even overrule the taste of lutefisk. Shivon Miller said she doesn't like lutefisk, but she eats it every Advent season because it's tradition.

"It's something we do every year, even though this isn't our church. We wait for it and watch for it," said Miller.