Lutefisk's mysterious origins
Recently, I stumbled across this website http://www.foodtimeline.org, which offers free culinary history research. While trying to learn more about lutefisk, I thought I'd see what its reference librarian could offer about the (in)famous fish's origins. Here's the (prompt) response I received:
Welcome to the Food Timeline. Below please find general history notes on lutefisk:
"Lutefisk...a specialty of Norway and Sweden,...It consists of stockfish (dried cod, usually but link and pollack have been used) which has been soaked, steeped in a lye solution, and then rinsed lengthily under running water before being boiled. This treatment gives the fish a jelly-like consistency. It is served with boiled potatoes and flatbread. Pepper and melted butter a necessary accompaniments...Whether the origin of lute fisk was in Norway or Sweden is debatable, and debated. What seems clear is that its history goes back to the early 16th century or earlier; and that speculations about how it first came into being (most of these postulate a serise of accidents befalling medieval fish curers and/or housewives) lie far outside the boundaries of possible verification...Histoically lutefisk was eaten for supper on Christmas Eve, usually in association with rice pudding, and on Good Friday and Easter..." ---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 463)
If you need more information let us know.
Lynne Olver (IACP), editor The Food Timeline http://www.foodtimeline.org
For finding out more about the origins of everything from yogurt to Pillsbury's Tunnel of Fudge cake, the site seems like a pretty cool resource