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8 Christmas Foods That Should Be Forgotten

You can probably guess that fruitcake will be on a list of not-so-welcome traditional Christmas foods. This list also covers figgy pudding, green bean casserole, and lutefisk.
To make lutefisk you catch a cod, take out the bones, skin it, salt it, and hang it out to dry for several weeks until it hardens and smells like a dumpster. Then, bring it inside and soak it in lye for several days. (Yes, lye) Lye will turn cod into a gelatinous blob that slithers down your throat.

Have you ever eaten lutefisk? Does anyone like it? Link -via Breakfast Links

Lutefisk is a Christmas staple with my family. It's not my favourite food but with lutefisk comes lefse and Christmas isn't Christmas without lefse.
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I grew up with Lutefisk. To be fair, the bad part is cooking it. A pot of it boiling in the kitchen could clear Slottet Palace. The texture is also kind of off-putting (think lumpy snot) but you get past that by mashing it into your mashed potatoes so you don't notice it. The taste is not so bad, in fact it has almost no taste. HeatherM is correct though, Christmas without lefse makes me shutter.

Lutefisk and lefse
Gammalost too
Dogs won't eat it
But Norwegians do.
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I'm from Minnesota, so I'm well familiar with lutefisk, and it is an abomination. But how could he forget the British tradition of serving brussels sprouts for Christmas? On a day when you're going to be locked indoors with your family for several days straight, the British fill themselves with a vegetable that, even if you are one of the rare people who actually likes them, will make you unleash farts that will peel the paint off your walls. No matter how long I live in the UK, I will never understand brussels sprouts for Christmas.
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It is my habit when travelling to forgo the touristic in favor of the real, to persuade my kind hosts, whoever they may be, that an evening in the local, imbibing pints of whatever the natives use as intoxicants, would be more interesting than another espresso in another place called Cafe Opera. Highest among my interests is the Favorite Dish: the plate, cup, or bowl of whatever stuff my hosts consider most representative of the region's virtues. As I just finished a week's work in Oslo, this dish was of course lutefisk.

The Norwegians are remarkably single-minded in their attachment to the stuff. Every one of them would launch themselves into a hydrophobic frenzy of praise on the mere mention of the word. Though these panegyrics were as varied as they were fulsome, they shared one element in common. Every testimonial to the recondite deliciousness of cod soaked in lye ended with the phrase "...but I only eat it once a year."

When I pressed my hosts as to why they would voluntarily forswear what was by all accounts the tastiest fish dish ever, 364 days a year, each of them said "Oh, you can't eat lutefisk more than once a year." (Their unanimity on this particular point carried with it the same finality as the answers you get when casually asking a Scientologist about L. Ron's untimely demise.)

Despite my misgivings from these interlocutions however, there was nothing for it but to actually try the stuff, as it was clearly the local delicacy. A plan was hatched whereby my hosts and I would distill ourselves to a nearby brasserie, and I would order something tame like reindeer steak, and they would order lutefisk. The portions at this particular establishment were large, they assured me, and when I discovered for myself how scrumptious jellied fish tasted, I could have an adequate amount from each of their plates to satiate my taste for this new-found treat.

Ah, but the best laid plans... My hostess, clearly feeling in a holiday mood (and perhaps further cheered by my immanent departure as their house guest) proceeded to order lutefisk all round.

"But I was going to order reinde..."

"Nonononono," she said, "you must have your own lutefisk. It would be rude to bring you to Norway and not give you your own lutefisk."

My mumbled suggestion that I had never been one to stand on formality went unnoticed, and moments later, somewhere in the kitchen, there was a lutefisk with my name on it.

The waitress, having conveyed this order to the chef, returned with a bottle and three shot glasses and spent some time interrogating my host. He laughed as she left, and I asked what she said.

"Oh she said 'Is the American really going to eat lutefisk?' and when I told her you were, she said that it takes some time to get used to it."

"How long?" I asked.

"Well, she said a couple of years." replied my host.

In the meantime, my hostess was busily decanting a clear liquid into the shot glass and passing it my way. When I learned that it was aquavit (a spice-flavored potato vodka), I demurred, as I intended to get some writing done on the train.

"Oh no," said my hostess, donning the smile polite people use when giving an order, "you must have aquavit with lutefisk."

To understand the relationship between aquavit and lutefisk, here's an experiment you can do at home. In addition to aquavit, you will need a slice of lemon, a cracker, a dishtowel, ketchup, a piece of lettuce, some caviar, and a Kit-Kat candy bar.

1. Take a shot aquavit.
2. Take two. (They're small.)
3. Put a bit of caviar on a bit of lettuce.
4. Put the lettuce on a cracker.
5. Squeeze some lemon juice on the caviar.
6. Pour some ketchup on the Kit-Kat bar.
7. Tie the dishtowel around your eyes.

If you can taste the difference between caviar on a cracker and ketchup on a Kit-Kat while blindfolded, you have not had enough aquavit to be ready for lutefisk. Return to step one.

The first real sign of trouble was when a plate arrived and was set in front of my host, sitting to my left. It contained a collection of dark and aromatic food stuffs in a variety of textures. Having steeled myself for an encounter with a pale jelly, I was puzzled at its appearance, and I leaned over to get a better look.

"Oh," said my host, "that's not lutefisk. I changed my mind and ordered the juletid plate. It is pork and sausages."

"But you're leaving for New York tomorrow, so tonight is your last chance to have lutefisk this year" I pointed out.

"Oh well," he said, cutting into what looked like a very tasty pork chop.

Shortly thereafter the two remaining plates arrived, each containing the lutefisk itself, boiled potatoes, and a mash of peas from which all the color had been expertly tortured. There was also a garnish of a slice of cucumber, a wedge of lemon, and a sliver of red pepper.

"This is crazy!" said my hostess, snatching the garnish off her plate.

"What's wrong," I asked, "not enough lemon?"

"No, a plate of lutefisk should be totally gray!"

Indeed, with the removal of the garnish, it was totally gray, and waiting for me to dig in. There being no time like the present, I tore a forkful away from the cod carcass and lifted it to my mouth.

"Wait," said my host, "you can't eat it like that!"

"OK," I said, "how should I eat it?"

"Mash up your potatoes, and then mix a bit of lutefisk in, and then add some bacon." he said, handing me a tureen filled to the brim with bacon bits floating in fat.

I began to strain some of the bits out of the tureen. "No, not like that, like this" he said, snatching up the tureen and pouring three fingers of pure bacon grease directly over the beige mush I had made from the potatoes and lutefisk already on my plate.

"Now can I eat it?"

"No, not yet, you have to mix in the mustard."

"And the pepper" added my hostess, "you have to have lutefisk with lots and lots of pepper. And then you have to eat it right away, because if it gets cold its horrible."

They proceeded to add pepper and mustard in amounts I felt were more appropriate to ingredients rather than flavors, but no matter. At this point what I had was an under cooked hash brown with mustard on it, flavored with a little bit of lutefisk. "How bad could it be?" I thought to myself as I lifted my fork to my mouth.

The moment every traveller lives for is the native dinner where, throwing caution to the wind and plunging into a local delicacy which ought by rights to be disgusting, one discovers that it is not only delicious but that it also contradicts a previously held prejudice about food, that it expands ones culinary horizons to include surprising new smells, tastes, and textures.

Lutefisk is not such a dish.

Lutefisk is instead pretty much what you'd expect of jellied cod; it is a foul and odiferous goo, whose gelatinous texture and rancid oily taste are locked in spirited competition to see which can be the more responsible for rendering the whole completely inedible.

How to describe that first bite? It's a bit like describing passing a kidney stone to the uninitiated. If you are talking to someone else who has lived through the experience, a nod will suffice to acknowledge your shared pain, but to explain it to the person who has not been there, mere words seem inadequate to the task. So it is with lutefisk. One could bandy about the time honored phrases like "nauseating sordid gunk", "unimaginably horrific", "lasting psychological damage", but these seem hollow when applied to the task at hand. I will have to resort to a recipe for a kind of metaphorical lutefisk, to describe the experience. Take marshmallows made without sugar, blend them together with overcooked Japanese noodles, and then bathe everything liberally in acetone. Let it marinate in cod liver oil for several days at room temperature. When it has achieved the appropriate consistency (though the word "appropriate" is somewhat problematic here), heat it to just above lukewarm, sprinkle in thousands of tiny, sharp, invisible fish bones, and serve.

The waitress, returning to clear our plates, surveyed the half-eaten goo I had left.

She nodded conspiratorially at me, said something to my host, and left.

"What'd she say?, I asked.

"Oh, she said 'I never eat lutefisk either. It tastes like python.'"

"I think my mistake was in using the dishtowel. You need to drink enough aquavit so you can't tell the difference between caviar on a cracker and ketchup on a Kit-Kat with your eyes open."
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I didn't like the list. It wasn't even funny, and I like pretty much everything on their. and its a good thing he/she don't live in Claxton GA, cuz we don't want them either.
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That guy has obviously never had real fruitcake. In other words, soaked in booze for months on end. Too many people don't know how to make it correctly, and it ends up dry and/or bitter. First of all, it should NEVER be made with citrus peel (for some reason people think that crap is necessary?). Candied cherries, pineapple, and citron, plus grapes and walnuts or pecans (pecans are better) are what make it sweet. Of course, the bread will dry out quickly if you just bake it and serve. However, the key is to wrap it in clean rags then soak it in your liquor of choice (vodka, bourbon, rum, brandy, etc.) for several weeks in a well-sealed ziplock.

Last week I discovered two loaves I had made over a year ago and soaked in brandy. I unwrapped one in order to re-wrap it in foil and clingwrap and gift it to a friend and a raisin-filled corner came off of it with the booze-soaked rag. I nibbled at it and found it to be just as moist, sweet, and flavorful as the other loaves from the batch. If I weren't pregnant, I might have eaten the whole thing. I swear, that stuff is like an orgasm in your mouth.
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I do, in fact, like lutefisk and routinely ask for seconds or thirds unless the lutefisk is bad. Trust me, there is good lutefisk and bad lutefisk. Bad lutefisk was left in the lye too long and the result of saponification is, well, a texture close to mucus and no, I don't like that. I married into it and simply must have it for Christmas Eve.
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While I was at Luther College (where my Norksi's at?) they served lutefisk once at Christmas.
Once!
I pride myself on being able to eat anything, but I took one forkful into my mouth and primal forces took over and I spit it all over my plate. It was some horrible chemical, necrotic sensation I hope never to experience again.
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This is definitely not Neatorama-worthy. It's basically a particularly picky 8-year-old complaining to people about non-American holiday foods.

The reindeer stew comment was particularly idiotic as it wasn't based on the food itself, just a moronic connection to some fictional beasts of burden.

The author needs to grow up.
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there's a lot to be said about preparation when it comes to lutefisk. if you boil it it goes to pieces and the flavor is lacking but if you microwave it, my family's found [through laziness] that it's quite good! Like many dishes it's all about how you cook it.
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