Friday, November 03, 2006

I Can't Help I'm Norwegian

There is nothing worse than getting hit by a pregnancy craving that falls severely in an "Ethnic Food" category. Especially when it's Scandinavian ethnic food. Even more tragic is the fact that most of the ethnic foods near us are Mexican, Chinese, Italian and Mexican, Chinese, Mexican, Italian and Chinese.

And as hard as I try, I am not appetized by egg rolls or spanish rice. Or even pizza.

The other day, I was dreaming heavenly visions of Lefse (I better hyperlink that word for those of you who aren't blessed with a Scandinavian heritage as I am.)

I recollected over past holiday seasons when I'd go holiday shopping and would search in the dairy departments of the local supermarkets for the necessary means to truly celebrate the season with: Lefse.

Imagine my dismay when I could find none that first year. I just assumed they hadn't gotten the shipment in.

A week later, I returned and scrounged around the store. Nothing.

Thanksgiving was coming so close, how could the lefse not be in yet? Their turkey bins were full and the yam cart was heaping, hams were on sale and cranberries decked the fruit aisle. But no lefse.

What is wrong with this store? I wondered.

I finally asked a store worker.

"Do you guys have your lefse in yet?"

"Excuse me," she said, putting down her box of packaged goods she was unpacking and stepped closer so she could find out if I was speaking English.

"Your lefse... is it in yet?" I innocently said.

"Ah.... what was that you said?" she politely asked again.

"Lef - SA." I repeated. The look on her face made me wonder if she thought I said a bad word.

"What is... Leee... that?" She asked.

She couldn't even say the word.

I explained that it was similar to a tortilla only made with potatoes.

"How do you spell it?" Was her curious response.

"L-E-F-S-E," I said.

By now I could clearly tell that this lady had no idea WHAT lefse was. I also knew there was none in the store. Hopelessly, I despaired that we would have to endure a lefse-less holiday.

"Hmmm, never heard of it before," she said, still curious at this mysterious food item that was supposedly sold in some grocery stores.

"Well, it is a Norwegian food so maybe that's the problem," I said.

She immediately assured me that this was a highly populated German town and hardly does one ever see a Norwegian.

I wanted to say that since she was looking at a Norwegian right then, that should warrant enough reason for her store to sell lefse.

Instead, I thanked her for her help and she thanked me for the education in lefse. I could tell it was something still rolling around in her head as she distractedly went back to stocking her shelves.

Later that holiday season, I enjoyed the tradition of eating lefse at my parents' home in Wisconsin. They may have lots of snow up there, but at least they have lefse . Unlike balmy Nebraska with tons of wind and no true holiday treats in the form of a potato flat bread.

A couple years later, I was again looking towards the holidays with joy. Of course by then, I had succumbed to the fact that lefse was truly a very special food and only made and sold in special places. And obviously, only special people seemed to enjoy eating it.

But, a turn of events unfolded and surprised me with lefse in my own Nebraskan home through the entire holiday season. Read the story here. I still smile when I think of how that happened.

Back to this holiday season.

Recently, I was despairing that there was nothing for this sick, pregnant mom to eat. Suddenly, I had a vision of lefse. Oh dear... here we go again. Another unquenched pregnancy craving.

I went online and surfed lefse sites. Lena's Lefse, Mrs. Olson's Lefse, Jakob's Lefse,, etc. teasingly danced across my screen. How could it be that they were all located in the frigid north, nestled in Scandinavian sounding towns that were surely fragranced with burning wood stoves and tantalizing smoke houses wafting on the northern breeze? I could just hear the Norwegian accents as I read their sites about the lefse products they had to sell.

As I continued to despair, I searched aimlessly in the local phone book under "ethnic food" and "Scandinavian" and "Norwegian." Our largely populated town surely had to have at least one Scandinavian shop listed in it's larger-than-Websters-Dictionary-size phone book.

But there were no friendly titles that would've depicted the guarantee of a Norwegian greeting when you stepped through the ringing door....

"Hell-oah there-ah!"

"Do you have lefse?" I could ask.

"YAAAH sshhhuuurrre!! You-ah betch-ya!" Would come the automatic response.

I was so desperate for lefse by this time that I would've paid to even smell lefse.

That night I mentioned to Toby that I had another pregnancy craving.

He just rolled his eyes and said, "Yeah, I know... Olive Garden?" As if there could be nothing more out of this world than Olive Garden's spendy menu.

"Nope," I assured him.

His eyebrows raised and he looked at me curiously.

"Lefse," I said watching as the infamous 5-letter word hit his ears and he remembered that his Norwegian wife is living in a strange place in a strange land with no lefse.

"Oh, well... there's nothing you can do about that," he answered re assuredly, as if by reminding me that since there was absolutely no lefse around here, I could immediately delete the pregnancy craving as one would delete a file on their computer.

"I know," I said, "I checked all over the phone book thinking there would be at least one Scandinavian shop or restaurant but there's nothing." I reminded him that we live in the land of the Mexican and Chinese so there were only Mexican and Chinese restaurants around....

"Accept for one Israeli restaurant," I said. "Jerusalem Cuisine."

"That's interesting," he replied over his book.

"But why Honey, would they have a restaurant like THAT but not a Scandinavian one?"

"Well, because there's no Scandinavians around here," was his wise answer.

Then I informed him that one place around here does have lefse: THE INTERNET.

"You can buy it online?" He asked me.

"Yes... And they ship it right to your door," I told him, as if the shipping right to your door feature was extraordinary.

"Well, then order some lefse," he said with a tone that made me think that he was wondering why I had made such an ado over something that could be easily fixed.

"I can but with shipping and a good sized order, it would be about..." and I mentally calculated the cost before coming up with a total.

Being the all wise and thinking man my husband is, he informed me that an order of lefse would cost less than a meal at Olive Garden. He assured me it was well worth it. (He's a pretty nice guy... even if he isn't Norwegian.)

So, I went online, found a site that offered free shipping and made the final sale of my prize purchase over half the price of what a meal at Olive Garden is.

In three days, I will have lefse at my door. Truly a miracle when you live in Nebraska.


Bethany said...

LOL!!! I laughed while reading this, and had a few sisters laughing over my shoulder as they read it as well! Glad your craving will be able to be satisfied...will you still be craving it when comes in the mail?!

Coeur d'Court said...

That's a good question Bethany! Yes, I will still be hungry for it. :) I've been craving lefse for a long time so I think until that craving is quenched, I'll continue to crave it.

Bek said...

As only a Wisconsinite would understand! :) Even though I am a Pollack in the middle of Norwegian land, I grew up with Lefse as well. My Polish aunt married a Norwegian, and that was his contribution to our Polish Christmas Eve Vigelia meal. :) Hope you enjoy it!

Coeur d'Court said...

Aww, Bek... I'm glad you like it too! (or at least see it as a holiday tradition.) Thanks for the comment. :)

Cheri said...

I had no idea you were Norwegian, Courtney! I am too! =D My grandma on Daddy's side was 100% Norwegian and somehow many of the Norwegian traits got passed onto me.

Someday I want to try Lefse. I never knew what it was until some good friends from MN (who are Norwegian) told me about it.

Marie said...

Hi, just read your article on lefse, I miss it so much, being brought up in Seattle by a Norsk dad. I now live in England and would LOVE to know which website you can order lefse from!!!

Coeur d'Court said...

Cheri... definitely try it! It is so good but it seems to be one of those things that either people really like or really don't care for.

Marie... do a google search on lefse. That's how I found the site I ordered mine from. The latest site I ordered from was Since you are out of the states, I'm not sure if it would work for them to ship internationally. You'll have to check that I guess.
Good luck and I hope you get some soon!