Eelmisel aastal kui Satu kutsus meid Hvelvetisse lutefiski sööma olin ma natuke hirmul. Ma olin seda küll kunagi ammu Britt-Ida juures söönud ja mäletasin, et mulle see maitses, kuid legendid ja lood, mis lutefiski saadavad panid mu siiski mõtlema, et võib olla mu mälu petab mind. Väidetavalt ei söö seda ükski normaalne inimene ja isegi need, kes söövad, valetavad, et see neile maitseb ning söövad seda vaid solidaarsusest oma vaeste esivanemate vastu. Norra kirjanik Odd Børretzen on öelnud, et ” seda süüakse selle pärast, et harjutada end maast madalast alla neelama pettumusi elus”. Ameeriklane Jeffrey Steingarten on öelnud, et “Lutefisk ei ole toit vaid massihävitusrelv. See on näide toidust, mille maitse ei sarnane mitte millegagi, aga sealjuures põhjustab nii tugevaid emotsioone, mis sõna otseses mõttes saadab inimese nokauti.” Ka mu naabrinaine ütleb, et ei suuda lutefiski süüa ja seda just tekstuuri tõttu. Jällegi on norrakad ise ju öelnud, et võdisev ja kallerdav lutefisk meenutab koletist mõnest jaapani õudusfilmist.
Mis see kahtlane kala siis on?
Lutefisk is dried whitefish (normally cod, but ling and burbot is also used) treated with lye. The first step is soaking 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) is caustic, with a pH of 11–12. 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.
No one is quite sure where and when lutefisk originated. Both Swedes and Norwegians claim it was invented in their country. A legend has it that Viking fishermen hung their cod to dry on tall birch racks. When some neighboring Vikings attacked, they burned the racks of fish, but a rainstorm blew in from the North Sea, dousing the fire. The remaining fish soaked in a puddle of rainwater and birch ash for months before some hungry Vikings discovered the cod, reconstituted it and had a feast. Another story tells of St. Patrick’s attempt to poison Viking raiders in Ireland with the lye-soaked fish. But rather than kill them, the Vikings relished the fish and declared it a delicacy. It makes for a great story if you don’t mind the fact that Patrick lived centuries before the Vikings attacked Ireland.
This year, when Satu again asked to Hvelvet to have lutefisk I was extreamly happy. I honestly think lutefisk is one of the best Norwegian Christmas food. ONLY when prepared by proffesionals. I tried it at home and WILL NOT recommend to do it. It looked like the cadavers of squirrels run over by trucks soaked in water for a month. And the smell was as bad as I imagine a dead squirrel would smell. But the one they serve in Hvelvet is just beautiful and tastes so good! I have also always had a suspicion that when people say they cannot stand the consistency and smell of lutefisk, they are just showing off, but I know really know a person who probably had nightmares of lutefisk later. Look at the header image. Sorry, Klaudia, for making fun of you, but the look on your face is priceless.
But is remarkable that Ida also enjoys it. She seems to like all kind of “suspicious” Norwegian food;) And Hvelvet is the one restaurant where she always behaves and is a good girl, even after she was tired from kindergarten this time. We laugh amongst ourselves that she has just expensive taste;)