You just don’t know how evil Skatje can be

All that noise from a pair of rather ugly pissants criticizing my daughter falls short of describing her perfidy. Today, Skatje spent the whole afternoon making lefse — and she’s really getting it down. The shape isn’t perfect yet, but the texture and the thinness is getting up there around Scandinavian-grandma-quality, which is pretty darn good…I mean, evil.

Dang. It really isn’t very evil at all, is it?

Except that she didn’t make enough.


  1. says

    “Except that she didn’t make enough.”

    That is evil. There are few things better than fresh lefse, shape be damned.

  2. Bride of Shrek says

    I admit prior ignorance to what lefse was so I had to go look it up in all its grilled, golden, delicious perfection. Now I’m bloody starving, its only 4.49 pm and ages until Mr Shrek gets home and we have dinner AND I have to cook the kids something shortly for their dinner without picking at it myself. I hate being on a diet it makes me all whiny and irritable. Damn you PZ for posting a food thread. The Bride is cranky.

  3. says

    Shape doesn’t matter. Lefse simply belongs in my head. All lefse. Every damned, cursed crumb!

    By the way, your daughter pretty much rocks, PZ. I have a feeling that even without the awesome lefse baking skills, she could still pretty much melt people’s heads at will.

  4. Janine says

    Bride Of Shrek, I am afraid she is a little too old for that. Don’t you have your own child to, um, corrupt?

    Look who is talking. It is not like I will be reprodusing anytime soon.

  5. says

    If she had skipped out on butter and cinnamon while serving the lefse, that too would have evil.

    And Kseniya, if she had served lutefisk it would have been evil. I am a Swede, but the first time I tried lutefisk I dressed it with mustard. It tasted like….mustard.

    There hasn’t been a second time.

  6. sciencemc says

    The only real evil is if she makes lutefisk. I know all about it, PZ. I was born at Ballard Hospital, and am a former Lutheran. You know these are proper bona fides.

  7. Hank says

    Hey! My grandmother is scandinavian. Am I supposed to take offense, or be proud of the fact?

    At least my grandmother isn’t Sal Cordova or ftk…

  8. phat says

    Mustard, that warms the cockles of my Scandinavian-American heart.

    My grandfather used to dip canned fish (sardines and such) in mustard and eat them raw.

    Guh, is all I have to say.


  9. says

    The comment that perfectly sums up the crime against humanity that Lutefisk is comes from a 90 – year old farmer from Grand Forks N.D. during the local lutefisk festival circa 1990 or so, (I only heard this because I was stationed there), for a TV News bobblehead.

    The farmer was seen on camera *wolfing* down the lutefisk, which is, let me tell you, as disgusting a sight as you’ll ever see. So the little blonde bobblehead walks up to him, introduces herself, and says, all perky and bright:

    “Wow, you must really love lutefisk”

    Farmer looks at her like she’s mildly stupid and replies: “Oh heck no, it tastes crap. But, it’s the festival, so what can you do”NOM NOM NOM.

    God, even the memory of LOOKING at lutefisk makes me vomit in my mouth a little

  10. says

    Ah, Mike must be more of a surströmming guy. What’s the point of a vile food unless it has to be opened underwater?

    If Skatje wants to be truly evil, she should try making some dallaspulla. Use the Finnish filling, of course, and use a bit more than they suggest in the recipe. Oh, and ignore the icing suggestion. That’s just heathen.


  11. Janine says

    From Wikipedia:

    * Interview with Jeffrey Steingarten, author of The Man Who Ate Everything (translated quote from a 1999 article in Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet:)

    “Lutefisk is not food, it is a weapon of mass destruction. It is currently the only exception for the man who ate everything. Otherwise, I am fairly liberal, I gladly eat worms and insects, but I draw the line on lutefisk.”
    “What is special with lutefisk?”
    “Lutefisk is the Norwegians’ attempt at conquering the world. When they discovered that Viking raids didn’t give world supremacy, they invented a meal so terrifying, so cruel, that they could scare people to become one’s subordinates. And if I’m not terribly wrong, you will be able to do it as well.”
    “But some people say that they like lutefisk. Do you think they tell the truth?”
    “I do not know. Of all food, lutefisk is the only one that I don’t take any stand on. I simply cannot decide whether it is nice or disgusting, if the taste is interesting or commonplace. The only thing I know, is that I like bacon, mustard and lefse. Lutefisk is an example of food that almost doesn’t taste anything, but is so full of emotions that the taste buds get knocked out.”


    When Lutefisk is Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Lutefisk!

  12. Hank says

    John C. Welch: Good times, good times. Regardless of your feelings for lutefisk, be glad it wasn’t a sour herring festival. That dish is pure evil, simple and plain.

  13. says

    I made lefse for the first time for Chrismas Eve, carrying on the family tradition. Dang, but it turned out good! (We haven’t had lutefisk for a few years, though.)

  14. Bride of Shrek says

    It’s just that she seems easier to handle than my mob, and she cooks. The perfect child…sigh…

    Please PZ tell me she was a nightmare as a toddler.

  15. Azkyroth says

    I’m married to a woman who puts ketchup on macaroni and cheese. That is the meaning of perversity. x.x

  16. Bride of Shrek says

    I am married to a man that eats black pudding. I understand your pain Azkyroth.

  17. Bride of Shrek says

    Huh, Scandindavian grandmother be damned, you Myers have it easy in the food stakes. My grandmother/father are Scottish, forget lefse, my heritage requires the eating of fucking haggis. I HATE Robbie Burns night.

  18. Brian English says

    Seems Skatje dislikes psychology, but talks about drugs which is psychiatry. Or is that only here in OZ?
    I think psychology is useful, but not all psychologists or theories of psychology are. It’s a young field, and humans won’t behave like laws of nature. So it’s got a while to go before it’s mature and reliable like biology. It would help to if those lazy neuroscientists worked out how the brain worked too. ;)

  19. Ken says

    She just teased you with a little lefse? Surely you grounded her or something. There should always be just a little more than everyone can eat. Same thing with kumle. That way somebody gets fried kumle the next morning. Virtual raspberries to the people here who just don’t have what it takes to appreciate lutefisk.

  20. says

    I’m married to a woman who eats natto — and has successfully gotten all three of our kids to enjoy it. You don’t know the meaning of horror until you’ve seen your child eat what amounts to week-old sticky spoiled soybeans, with a raw egg mixed in.

  21. Peter Ashby says

    Hey Bride of Shrek you moved to the sub antarctic yet? On my run this morning I got snowed, sleated and rained on, feeling let down that the hail didn’t start until I got home. Nice wind chill too.

  22. MH says

    Lefse? I had to Google that, and what do you know, one of the first sites was called Pharyngula, and featured a rather attractive atheist making the aforementioned delicacy:

    Skatje makes lefse!

  23. Peter Ashby says

    Oh and Black Pudding is the very snack of the gods. it isn’t a proper food of course, that is reserved for Haggis, or an Arbroath Smokie.

  24. TepidTeamster says

    JEALOUS!! My fiancee’s gramma made some for txgiving this year… unfortunately the lefse-making ability has died out in my family. Guess I’d better get learning!

  25. says

    You DO realize that this is how they are going to “quote this entry, right?

    “All that noise from…my daughter falls short of describing her perfidy. Today, Skatje spent the whole afternoon making…[sweet sweet animal love]…she’s really getting…down. The shape isn’t perfect yet, but the texture and the thinness is getting up there around Scandinavian-grandma-quality, which is pretty darn good…I mean, evil.

    Dang. It really isn’t very evil at all, is it?

    Except that she didn’t make enough.”

    My God. How can you not read that and realize how wrong your whole philosophy of life is?

    Shame on you! SHAME for producing a daughter that is so sick in other people’s imaginations.

  26. says

    I’d be happy to let anyone adopt Skatje who is willing to pay her college tuition.

    I’ll have you know that she is an ordinary human teenage girl, and she will give you the icy cold stare of death quite frequently.

  27. Peter Ashby says

    Yours too huh? our eldest has a look that if intent were reality would freeze and shrivel you to dust at a hundred paces.

  28. SeanH says

    My wife does the same thing. Nasty. CrypticLife has us beat though. Natto is terrifying.

  29. maxi says

    @ Bride of Shrek (also)

    Haggis is the best minced offal all wrapped up in sheeps intestine that you will ever eat! I cannae wait for Burn’s Night so as to partake in the traditional 3 colour mush; that is: haddis, neeps and tatties. Yum yum yum yum!

  30. says

    PZ, I assume you are aware that the world’s largest ever lefse was baked about 20 miles east of you? (I’d never even heard of the stuff until the day after we saw you, and were on our way out of Glacial Lakes.)

    I also assume you’re not planning to commemorate Skatje’s lefse the way Starbuck did theirs (ie. by casting it in concrete on your driveway).

  31. Scrofulum says

    Them northern folk do have a knack for dreaming up interesting foodstuffs don’t they? And by interesting, I mean in the Chinese sense.

    Has anyone had any icelandic fermented shark? As a bloke from Engerland what has eaten a number of culinary atrocities throughout the years, I draw the line at anything that has been buried.

    Actually, I have eaten earthworms, so I take that back.

  32. patrick says

    I made lefse once. I got the hang of it and the shape and thinness was there…but I made a huge huge mess. So I haven’t done it again. Homemade lefse is awesome though. kudos.

  33. blondin says

    I remember when mine was in her late teens. She was actually a pretty good kid, excellent student, etc but she did keep some weird hours. I once tried to use the only leverage I had (the car) to impose a curfew (1:00 AM). Her response: one of those withering looks and a sarcastic “Oh, that’s mature.”

    They really can make you feel like some kinda insect sometimes.

  34. Ken Mareld says

    MMMM, Lefse good! Tunnbrod though I like better. Great with butter and pickled herring.
    Is there any difference ‘twixt Norwegian and Swedish Lutefisk?
    I’ve only had the Swedish stuff, which my grandmother made. Awful, awful, awful stuff.
    Surstromming (fermented Herring)? Now that’s the stuff the Swedes used to make the Russians cry! Worked too! That is until the battle of Poltava, when Charles XII’s supply lines were cut. He ran out and the Russian armies chased him all the way to Turkey. Lack of fermented Herring. The end of an Empire.
    My Grandmother’s farm was on a lake fed by the Kalix River, about 50 kilometers south of the Arctic circle. The summer of my 13th year, I would daily row out to a net that was about 30 feet wide stretched between two stakes near the middle of the lake. I would then take in the net and remove about 10 to 15 small (500-1000 gram) fish. Put the net back between the two stakes (unless needing repair) and row back to the house. After cleaning these little suckers they would be fried with onions, very fresh butter, and very fresh potatoes. Mmmm, I can taste it now. Don’t ask me the name of the fish, I have no idea. That was lunch every day for two months. I never tired of it.
    That summer, in a culinary vein, I only lacked for two things. Fresh California Salad, and real Mexican food. This was real rural Sweden. The nearest town, Morjarv, had 300 people and was 5 kilometers away. The nearest city was Lulea and was 130 kilometers away (about). Morjarv had a library! With books in English! About 20 of them. I read 16 of them. The other four were bible steff. Feh.

  35. Rita Bennett says

    The website, Lefse Time, has a poem at the bottom of the page.
    A poem which belongs at the bottom of a trash bin.

  36. says

    God, even the memory of LOOKING at lutefisk makes me vomit in my mouth a little

    The VFW in a town near where I grew up (southern MN) had an monthly lutefisk and Rocky Mountain Oyster night.

    Never once went, but Dad (the veterinarian) would collect the oysters in a salt water bowl in the fridge for my uncle. Not what you want to open up the refrigerator and see when you’re trying to find a soda.

  37. Bride of Shrek says

    Peter @#28

    The big move is next week. I am going grey(er) at the organisation it is taking to buy a house (sight unseen- how scary), move the furniture and transport three children under 3 (well 4 under 45 if you count Mr Shrek). And this still within the state! I go into a cold sweat when Mr Shrek mutters about moving back to England for a few years.

  38. Bart Mitchell says

    OOH Lefsa! Since I first wandered into your page, I’ve had a good measure of respect for you and your thoughts PZ. Now that I know your from a family that has respect for the original Norwegian tortilla, my own respect-cup runeth over. Enjoy!

  39. SEF says

    Potato lefse can’t be a very traditional Scandinavian thing, ie not before the Europeans invaded and raided America. :-/

  40. windy says

    Potato lefse can’t be a very traditional Scandinavian thing, ie not before the Europeans invaded and raided America. :-/

    Sorry about that but we’d starve if we only ate native plants. And how old are most American traditions compared to Scandinavian potatoes? ;)

  41. corydalus says

    My Mom claims that she grew up eating lutefisk regularly and loved it. If she ate it while pregnant it would explain a lot….

    The Icelandic nightmare is called hakarl and it managed to disgust ANTHONY BOURDAIN of all people, who will scarf down pretty much anything.

  42. craig says

    I have to fast for 12 hours for a medical test. After having fasted for 3 days because of illness.

    food :( I love you, food. Won’t you come back to me? :(

  43. Bee says

    I blame the long cold winters for odd Northern foods. If it’s February after a bad harvest, and there’s six feet of snow in the woods and three feet of ice over the fish, you could get hungry enough to find something half-rotted or normally inedible pretty tasty.

    Personally, I’m very fond of Marric (several other possible spellings), a Scottish sausage/pudding composed of suet, oatmeal and onions, usually served baked or fried.

    And I put ketchup on macaroni and cheese.

  44. Sampo Rassi says

    #57: Really? Man, that’s amazing. The last time I saw him disgusted was when he was eating some … parts of warthog with Namibian Bushmen (who’re not exactly on the cutting edge of cuisine).

    It’s funny, but apparently you Americans eat more Scandinavian food than me, who lives in the next country over from Sweden. Then again, I don’t much go for our domestic delicacies, either (except mustamakkara). I believe the most common food item eaten in Finland is currently the pizza (often in its true microwave glory).

  45. Ric says

    “Let’s make evil, let’s make good,
    I’d do anything I could,
    To get you in my dirty world,
    Make lefse with you.”

  46. says

    SEF: I wonder about that too – Potatoes are important in Ireland and Russia, too, at least stereotypically. And I see Italy, Greece and Arab countries with their “traditional” dishes with tomato … well, can’t be more than c. 500 years old, can it?

    The above said, I don’t care when eating it … if it tastes good, is reasonably safe and affordable, I don’t care how authentic something is.

  47. SEF says

    Being in near-arctic countries, I’d expect the early scandinavian populations to be mostly reliant on animals (fish etc as well as meat) rather than vegetation for their food. Though it’s possible that as the ice retreated and the land was colonised (by suitable forms of life) there was some other root vegetable which the people ate in roughly that lefse manner and which was later replaced by potatoes.

    Does anyone know what flora and fauna are regarded as native to the relevant scandinavian countries (ie got themselves there rather than being imported by humans) and what traditional dishes are made with exclusively native ingredients?

  48. SEF says

    Oops, I phrased that last bit poorly. I mean dishes which can be made from just the things which should be in that location (ie without human intervention) and not that those ingredients can’t also be found in other places!

  49. says

    I don’t know much about lefse, but Tina Nordstrom from New Scandinavian Cooking on PBS is pretty tasty-looking…

    As for Icelandic food, I once read an Icelandic cookbook that stated that dried fish was the usual “bread” there for many years — marginal climates tend not to be too good for grains, even rye. I would imagine that has changed drastically since World War II of course…