Speaking of barely palatable things, I decided to inject a little tradition into the holidays this year and bought lefse (Norwegian potato tortilla for the uninitiated). My great aunts used to make lefse from scratch for Christmas and despite the fact that it is about as flavorful as the description ‘potato tortilla’ implies, we did like watching them make it when we were little. Can’t say I was ever a huge fan of the flavor, but it is traditional and with enough butter and sugar you can make due with anything.
My grandfather, who was Swedish, used to say that the Norwegians developed lefse for boat repair because once you get it wet it is impervious to any substance known to man and will also cling like a barnacle to just about anything. Kind of ironic that a Swede should have such a strong critique of Norwegian pastries, as the Swede’s are hardly known for their delicious food (meatballs and lingonberries, aside). But after trying the store-bought variety, I think he may have been on to something. My son and I tried all sorts of things–traditional butter and sugar, cinnamon and sugar, cream cheese and jam, you name it–but we just couldn’t get over the rough texture of the store bought stuff.
I blogged about Scandinavian culinary culture a while back after visiting a local restaurant called Taste of Scandinavia with my son: https://mickeysmusings.wordpress.com/2010/02/14/uffda-what-a-crowd/. I’m not one of those self-hating Scandinavian types, but I do think it’s okay to acknowledge that maybe we are, as a collective group, just not all that good at the food thing. Sure, some individuals are very talented, but do we really need an entire restaurant devoted to lefse, herring, lutefisk and other white-ish foods? Can’t we just be satisfied with making great sweaters and cheap furniture that needs to be put together with an Allen wrench? This was reinforced during a visit to Sam’s Club where a Scandinavian cooking show was playing on the television display. The recipe was for fish (naturally) and the chef used both salt AND pepper to season it. We were astonished at this bold flavor choice.
Wondering if it would be okay to tweak tradition a bit–maybe roll out a delicious crescent and pretend it’s lefse or something? Are there rules about this sort of thing?