WDAY: The News Leader

Published October 18, 2013, 09:59 PM

Lutefisk dinner at West Fargo Faith Lutheran Church

West Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - This time tomorrow night, Lutefisk lovers will be rubbing their bellies and nodding off to sleep after the big meal.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

West Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - This time tomorrow night, Lutefisk lovers will be rubbing their bellies and nodding off to sleep after the big meal.

This time of year, there are delectable fall suppers all around our region.

Often the smell of roast beef or pork fills church basements.

But at Faith Lutheran in West Fargo tomorrow afternoon, the neighborhood will be bathed in the aroma of Lutefisk.

But is the lye-soaked fish all that bad?

"Our family likes lutefisk."

"This was just delivered today."

Here it is the loot.

400-pounds of lutefisk.

"Uff Da"

At Faith Lutheran in in West Fargo, the countdown is on.

"Men on this end, doing the fish."

"Men on that end, doing the dishwasher."

The Lutefisk has arrived, ready for the Saturday afternoon crowd that will arrive.

"We always had 5 to 600."

Paula Kaufman is coordinating the Lutefisk and Meatball dinner, a good Norwegian, but Lutefisk?

Paula Kaufman/Faith Lutheran- West Fargo: “Ha ha. I was raised on Lutefisk and meatballs like clockwork on Christmas Eve. But I like meatballs, Lute not so much, no.”

Lila Rau ran the Lutefisk dinners here at Faith for years.

Lila Rau/Faith Lutheran- West Fargo: "You have to watch it so it doesn't turn to jelly."

The old days.

Rau: "We made the coffee, egg coffee."

Days of one refrigerator,

Kaufman: "We did the dishes by hand."

No dishwasher, a small stove and hundreds of lutefisk lovers standing in line.

Rau: “We had one of those little camping stoves; we set that up outside back of the church, and boiled potatoes outside.”

Lila remembers when the Lutefisk would show up in big wooden barrels.

Rau: “And they were with the skins on; we had to skin them ourselves.”

Even the Aprons are Scandinavian appropriate.

Kaufman: “If you don't tell your children about lutefisk, who will.”

The cooks in the kitchen say it all comes down to preparation. Over the years, Lutefisk has been baked, boiled and beaten to a pulp. Thus, the bad reputation.

Kaufman: "It is all about timing. The big thing, so you do not overcook it. Otherwise it will turn to jelly."

In the old country, lye-soaked lutefisk was stacked like cords of wood, or slapped on racks to dry. We've come a long way.

Rau: "And you lift it, when it is done, it lifts up."

But at the end of the day, it is still Lutefisk, and there's always meatballs.

That Lutefisk-Meatball Dinner gets underway tomorrow at 3:00 at Faith Lutheran in West Fargo. Rommegrot included.

It runs until 6:30.

Just remember this. 400-pounds of Lutefisk. And they've only run out of it, once.