Saturday, October 18, 2008

All roads lead to Hanlontown

Peggy Senzarino had never experienced lefse let alone lutefisk. Fancy that after all those years an Iowan. In a way it's not her fault --- she is primarily Italian with a side order of Greek and not an ounce Norwegian.

I figure I'm about 10 percent Norwegian by now, although genetics have nothing to do with it. It is possible to be born Norwegian and equally possible to absorb it. This is not exactly osmosis, since Norwegians are suspicious of people who touch. It is more a matter of breathing the same air rather than surface-to-surface contact. But it does happen, so be warned.

If you spend a good deal of time among Norwegians, as I have, watch for these signs and beware: In moments of stress, you unexpectedly say "Uff da!" with great feeling instead of "Oh damn it"; as the leaves turn to gold and daylight dwindles down, you're overwhelmed with the urge to eat lutefisk, lefse, mashed potatoes and lots of melted butter; and you begin to consider becoming a Lutheran --- Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) for moderate to liberal; Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS) for conservative. If you're attracted to the Missouri or Wisconsin synods, you've been spending too much time among Germans.

So Peggy's plight was one of the reasons I landed at the door of Grace Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Hanlontown --- a nice and scenic drive up the pike toward Minnesota from Mason City --- at 8:30 sharp this morning. I knew I'd find lefse there --- as well as breakfast (biscuits and gravy, egg casserole, fresh fruit, homemade cinnamon rolls).

A Lutheran bazaar, regardless of synod, in one way is like a rummage sale: You want to be there when the doors open to get the good stuff and Norwegians almost always are on time, or early, so you absolutely cannot dally. We're like vultures when aroused by the thought and scent of good home cooking.

Sure enough, the table selling Norwegian pastries already was swamped when I walked through the door as everyone bought to beat the band before retiring from the church hall to the basement, where breakfast was being served. The crowd actually looks a little sparse here, but that's because I'd already taken my purchases (lefse, krumkake, rosettes, kringla, fattigman, rommegrot bars and more plus jars of pickle relish and homemade sauerkraut, a bag of oatmeal buns and a fancy geranium to boot, all for about $30) out to the truck before I started taking pictures.

On the other hand, the church basement was stuffed as we prepared to stuff our faces. Norwegians also like to eat --- with great enthusiasm.

Since I was in the neighborhood, I decided to drive back through Fertile and take a look at the old mill from William Rhodes Island Park.

Great way to start a day! My stomach's full, the pantry's restocked at minimal cost and Peggy is about to experience lefse!


Ed Abbey said...

I lived among the Norwegians for about five years during my time up north. Although they may had made me utter "Uff da" a time or two, they never quite made me eat lutefisk. I don't think I could have lasted much longer so it was probably fortunate I migrated south back closer to home.

Pastor Kris Snyder said...

Wow! I served this great congregation from 2003-2005 as pastor. The people at Grace Lutheran sure know how to feed an army (be it of Norwegians, Germans, or those who would love to be Norwegians.) You should consider the lutefisk dinner coming up soon.

Pastor Kris Snyder