One of the best ways to ensure the continuation of ethnic culture is to EAT IT!
Last Saturday, I attended a lecture at the Sons of Norway Lodge in Ballard, an area of Seattle known for its prominent Scandinavian community that dates back to the 1880s. I became a member of the Lodge last year, but visit somewhat infrequently because it isn't exactly close to home. During this visit, I remembered that a Scandinavian foods shop sat only a block away, on NW Market Street. I decided there was no better Valentines Day gift for my mother than a taste of her childhood.
Walking in the door, I was immediately taken by the warm, sugary smell of freshly baked krumkake--waffle cookies rolled into a cone and usually served stuffed with whipped cream. The owners, two sisters from the Stavanger area of Norway, make them fresh right in the store.
Members of the Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and Finnish communities in the Seattle area are often found at Olsen's Scandinavian Foods. They sell plenty of traditional foods, but also kitchen implements such as: lefse turners, krumkake irons, and decorative mugs with Scandinavian designs, to name a few hard-to-find items.
Award-winning selections of pickled herring, fishcakes, meatballs, cold smoked salmon, lutefisk, and other food selections sure to please those palate memories from the Old Country. In particular, I was drawn to the shelves containing the goat cheeses, chocolates, and jams. For my mother, I came away with a big box of Mor's flatbread, two packages of lefse, a block of sweet and creamy Gudbransdal goat cheese, some Gjende cookies, and a jar of lingonberry jam. Yum! Okay, so it's not just for Mom...
Up to this point, I have been buying my goat cheese at a local natural foods market. But, it occurred to me that without adequate support, neighborhood ethnic stores like Olsen's might quickly become a thing of the past, especially as the older generation diminishes. From now on, I plan to buy my goat cheese, lefse, plus many other traditional foods, from Olsen's. I hope my Norwegian-American ancestors will forgive me if I pass on the lutefisk, though.
Support your local ethnic stores and delis
Keep your family's ancestral culture on the table!