I loved that he said "You don't have to eat it if you don't like it, but you should definitely try it," with a smile on his face and a steely gaze bearing down on me.
I knew then that this was the man I needed to marry, he would make my children try foods that stared back at them with a daring glare from their plates. And my children would come to love some foods that other people assume that no one should eat. Oatmeal, beets, turnips, hash, herring, peas, just to name a few
The scene was the first Christmas Eve dinner that I had with Dirt. We had just met in November and he had invited me to his family's celebration of Christmas which happened to be at the mansion, complete with hidden hallways for the servants, that his grandmother was taking care of while the family was off in Puerto Rico for the Holidays. Dirt's Grandma Alma came from Sweden when she was sixteen, she came to be a cook and maid for a wealthy lumber family in Kapowsin, Washington. Shortly after she arrived here the family died and she was without support, without a job, without protection.
But wait, this wasn't supposed to be the serious post about Dirt's heritage but the humorous side of my introduction to the food that caused me to propose to Dirt but one that I try to avoid at all cost. Personally that is.
Here I was, late for Christmas Eve dinner because as a nursing student working at the hospital I worked Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I finally make it to a house that you cannot see from the street because it sits on at least an acre of land fronted by a lake, a lake that only the wealthy in Pierce County have ever seen, the wealthy and their servants. I walk up to the entrance that I was directed to, I wonder how I managed all of that without getting a blow by blow description of where I was to go while on a cell phone, just amazing, anyway I digress as usual. The entrance lead into the kitchen because it was, yep, you guessed it the servants entrance. So it all looked so normal after the driveway that was so not.
Okay, normal may be a stretch, the kitchen was quite large and it was funny to see a sitting area off of the kitchen, but even funnier to find out that it wasn't for the family but for the servants to hang out in, like a employee lunch room. Then I was ushered into the dinning room where I was told I had a plate of food waiting for me. This dining room was enormous, I swear upon my best brain cells that it was so huge that I can picture the entire downstairs of my present house fitting into that one room. But the grandeur of a dining room so large that a dining room table the likes of which I have only seen in the movies could fit in it and still have more than ample room to move around including a baby grand in the corner, isn't what I want to tell about. I want to tell you about the food on my plate, a plate that I came to look on, and one I now serve up, every Christmas Eve and on even more occasions.
There was a beautiful piece of golden brown chicken, fried to a delightful perfection, there was a lovely mound of mashed potatoes neatly welled and a glistening gravy pooled in that well, both complementing the chicken and sending me into an ecstasy of expectation. Next to the potatoes lay an interesting sausage I am told is Korv. Korv? Sometimes called potato sausage. Now that, I have heard of and I gotta say, for me anything that is made of meat and potatoes served next to yet some more potatoes, that has to be what is served in the waiting line on the way to heaven. But working around my plate almost coming full circle (the vegetable is on a bread and butter plate) I have come upon an unidentifiable mass. Gelatinous in a appearance with a thin, nearly translucent itself, sauce with flecks of green slipping down the sides of the unappetizing heap.
I must have had a look of utter horror on my face and Dirt must have followed my eyes around the plate and recognized where I had stopped in panic. Because that is when he caught my attention and my eyes lifted off the plate and to his face as he, with a smile, spoke sternly, firmly and the gaze was steely and unrelenting as he said, "You don't have to eat it all, if you don't like it, but you should definitely try it."
And it happened to be the first thing I stuck my fork in and the first thing that went into my mouth.
Oh my goodness, if ever a texture matched a look exactly, this was it! If ever a flavor could not even come close to making up for a frightening look and texture, this was it!
But after I ate the beautiful chicken, the smooth and luxurious mashed potatoes and the exciting new discovery of korv, I actually found myself eating all of the lutefisk. How could I not, Dirt was still staring at me! It was a stare of challenge, it was a stare that I knew was entertaining my future. He was the man I could have be the father of my children. Here was a man who could rise to the bar set before him by my very own father, hit the mark of disciplining, keep his children in line, I had never seen the potential of this in any other of the bazillion men I had already met. This was it, the man who with one smiling look could get me to eat this horrid stuff. This stuff that I had heard about from Stan Boreson as a child but because I had no Scandinavian background was at best a myth. But here it was a reality, my present reality, it was horrid as horrid as the songs implied and I was eating it. No child was going to buffalo this man. I was hooked. He had to be mine.
Who knew that the steeling gaze and firm voice would turn into a mushy, "Oh honey, little girl of mine, what do you want?"
Now I have lutefisk eating daddy-bamboozling girls. Who knew that my plans would turn so upside down. Well, lutefisk season is upon me and now I embrace that crazy food, food? Not because I have necessarily come to look forward to the nasty texture or absent flavor or paint removing fragrance that my microwave will emit until February, but I embrace that food because it is what made me see Dirt so differently than any other young man. Because of that food I proposed to him even though I swore I would never ever get married. And even though he told me I could not propose and he was going to make me wait a month before it was spoken of again, I know it was that food that God used to get me here today. What better food for God to use to remove the scales of antagonism toward the beauty of marriage and the rightness of a man, than lutefisk. It all began with Lutefisk!