Submitted by Doris J. Keith-Hoitt
I am half Norwegian and my family is from a lovely small town on Puget Sound called Poulsbo. I spent my summers on Liberty bay at my Auntie Bernice and Uncle George’s house. My twin sister Delores and I helped our Auntie Bernice make the lefse`. It became our favorite along with krumkake and fattigmond. Auntie was extremely persnikity about how she made her lefse` and I learned from the best. We would roll it outdoors under the giant Douglas firs and cook it on an old wood cooking range. When the weather permitted we always made it outdoors so we wouldn’t heat the house up. Years later I often made the wonderful lefse` for my children and their friends They and their friends kept me busy making this wonderful delicasy.
My story is about the summer my husband the kids and I went to visit my dear Uncle George. Auntie had passed on and Uncle had retired but he kept himself busy with his gardening, he put out a couple hundred fuschias each summer, and being active in the local Sons of Norway.
We arrived at Uncles around two in the afternoon and Uncle seemed all in a dither. “Doris! get your clothes changed and let’s get going. Gotta get to the Sons, , , let’s go!” I didn’t ask questions – I just changed into some jeans and a tee shirt and off we went. We arrived at the sons and Uncle took me straight to the kitchen. There were 8 or 9 ladies rolling and as many cooking on their lefse` griddles. “Get to rolling Doris” Uncle George ordered. I went to a vacant spot at the giant rolling table. I rolled and rolled and listened to the older women gab. As I worked I noticed the ‘ladies’ didn’t include me in their conversations at all. Actually the treated me like ‘what’s she doing here?’ and I felt a little snubbed. So I just kept on rolling. We worked like beavers in the hot kitchen. Finally I said to one of the ladies “Why are we working so hard here today? Is there some kind of big dinner? Is it a party? What’s up? They looked at me like I had two heads and said “didn’t you know – – – King Olaf is here! In my youthful ignorance I said “Who is King Olaf? They filled me in and than one of the ladies said “who are you and why are you here? I told them I was Doris Hoitt and Uncle told me to get in here and roll lefse` so that’s what I was doing. They asked me who ‘Uncle’ was and I told them Uncle George. They said “You’re Bernices niece, you’re with George Herrick?? You’re one of the twins? — I said yes. Suddenly they all started treating me nicer. As we rolled they noticed I was good at it and one by one they left and I had to roll faster and faster. Before I knew it I was the only one rolling and there were still 5 ladies cooking. I kept up. These old Norsky ladies were pretty impressed that I could keep up with so many cooking. So! In all that heat I spent the afternoon cooking lefse` for the King and his entourage — and I never got to see the king.
I was told that when he ate at the Sons that evening he told the members it was the best meal he’d had in a long time. He commented that it was a sad thing that he had to travel all that way to have such a purely Norwegian meal made completely from scratch — no mixes! Apparently in Norway most people are too busy to do all the old styles of cooking.
I live down here by Springfield, in Oregon. In a small town near here, Junction City, the Sons of Norway has a yearly celebration called the Scandie Festival. Last year I went and there is a fellow selling ‘crepes’ and calling them lefse`. I’m thinking next year I might get hold of a portable kitchen and go out and see how the public likes the real thing. I can proudly proclaim “I’ve made lefse` for the King of Norway, come on in and have the real thing.”