There is snow on the ground. More is expected today. A scant 2.4 inches is what the forecast says. Nothing to get excited about in the Storehouse of Snow here in South Dakota. I have Julekake proofing in the kitchen. Plan to make some stew tonight for supper. Just wish I had some good lamb to make lamb stew. That was my favorite as a child and seem fitting when I think of Julekake and all things Norwegian.
I just finished listening to Jeg er så glad hver julekveld. If you want to hear it, you can go here. It has such a haunting melody. It reminds me of my childhood in Norwegian Brooklyn. When the Julekake goes in the oven and the fragrance of cardamom fills the air, the memory will blossom further.
When I first came to South Dakota, other than seeing Mount Rushmore for the first time, the thing I was most excited about was reconnecting with Norwegians. I remember my father and how he would seek out other Norwegians. He loved connecting with his homeland and roots. One time he somehow or other found some girl who was from Sweden who was attending William Woods College in Fulton MO. I have no idea how he found her. I do remember having to meet this striking blonde beauty. She was a bit snobby. However, my father just wanted to welcome her and make her feel comfortable. His father was Swedish. Something we rarely talked about - but for my dad, Sweden was Norway's neighbor. Living in Missouri that was about as close as he could get.
The first time we visited Brookings it was the weekend of the bi-annual Fjordland Sons of Norway Waffle Feed. I really didn't expect authentic Norwegian waffles at a waffle feed. Commercialized Belgium Waffles were the offered fare. Sadly, I don't think they've ever tasted a true Norwegian waffle with lingonberry jam. But I have. I make them too - they are awesome. I'll stack mine up against any Norwegian bakers.
My husband and I walked in to stares and glares. I realized it was a small town but still, if you want to make money, you could be more pleasant. Little did I know that this is just culture here. I realized that yesterday as I walked the aisles of HyVee trying to be pleasant. It's just how they are...
My husband feeling very magnanimous and over paid them. He said this is a donation. He asked about membership. I'd love to know what was going through their heads as this Pakistan was asking to join Sons of Norway. We asked to see the president of the lodge. She was the only really pleasant person that day. This trend has continued unfortunately.
We joined Sons of Norway. I was rather excited. I had never been a member of SONS. I think when the eventual move back to Tennessee happens I'll try the Music City Vikings. They look like a fun bunch. My experience with Fjordland has been like everything else in South Dakota, very disappointing.
The first year I was here in SD I decided to bake. I made cookies and lefse. I have always tried to do a bit of Norwegian baking for the holidays. Nothing like my mom would do, but still an effort. Here is a picture of a platter from that first year:
I was shocked to find out that here in SD they know nothing of Julekake or Fattigman. I don't think they've ever heard Jeg er så glad hver julekveld, they've probably never been to a Juletrefest - and yet, somehow, they've never believed I was truly Norwegian. How odd?!
Oh well, as they say, it's there loss. I may have had a bad attitude in moving here, but I did try with things like Sons of Norway. Really did want to connect with Norwegians here. But the upper Midwest plains I guess took it's toll on them as well. I'll enjoy my Julekake all by myself - oh and my Pakistani husband will be happy I made it too. He even knows what it is. And lefse? He refers to them as "Norwegian Chapati's." I'll take mine with butter and sugar, no curry, thank you.