I really must make a note here about lutefisk. Lutefisk in Norwegian means lyefish. I have taken the folowing from a Wikipedia entry which is really a very good description of how lutefisk is prepared. I remember when I was a child living in Evansville, WI, fixed lutefisk on Christmas Eve each year and shared the meal with Aunt Ellen, Uncle Lester and cousins, John, Marsha, and Mary. More about later. First learn what is is and how it is fixed (from Wikipedia).
Lutefisk is made from dried whitefish (normally cod in Norway, but ling is also used) prepared with lye in a sequence of particular treatments. The watering steps of these treatments differ slightly for salted/dried whitefish because of its high salt content.
The first treatment is to soak the stockfish in cold water for five to six days (with the water changed daily). The saturated stockfish is then soaked in an unchanged solution of cold water and lye for an additional two days. The fish swells during this soaking, and its protein content decreases by more than 50 percent producing a jelly-like consistency. When this treatment is finished, the fish (saturated with lye) has a pH value of 11–12 and is therefore caustic. To make the fish edible, a final treatment of yet another four to six days of soaking in cold water (also changed daily) is needed. Eventually, the lutefisk is ready to be cooked.
Yesterday my mother and I ate lutefisk at the annual lutefisk dinner in a Lutheran Church in Deforest WI.
Lutefisk, homemade potato lefse, mashed potatos, Swedish meatballs (that's for those that refuse to eat the lutefisk), mashed rutabagas, cranberry sauce, green beans, cole slaw, and pie. This was my plate (just the first helping.)
I love it all. Perhaps the reason I like lutefisk so much is that it always brings back memories of my childhood when we would fix the lutefisk. We lived in a home that had an unheated back porch and that is where we soaked to lutefisk for days, changing the water each day. The smell was terrible. It is a wonder that we ever ate it but come December 24 with the excitement of the preparations, Doris (my sister) and my looking forward to our cousins coming, and church services . . all that comes with Christmas . . . the lutefisk was devoured with enthusiasm. I truly do love to eat lutefisk (yesterday I had four helpings) but I think part of it is the memories that come to mind. These lutefisk dinners are held in November and December all over Wisconsin and hundreds of people flock to them. Often I am sitting across from a stranger but I feel they are kindred spirits because many of them love the lutefisk as much as I do. One always speaks of the memories of eating it when they were young.