This week, I’m sharing family stories inspired by my book "A Simple Christmas" and sent to me a few years ago by my radio listeners. Warning: today’s is not for the weak of stomach.
One thing everyone loves about the holidays is all the great foods we indulge in only once a year. Every family has its special dishes that simply must be on the table, from oyster dressing to yams with tiny marshmallows. But sometimes, they don’t make for a great combination, on the plate or in your stomach.
Kevin from Maryland wrote me that he grew up in a Norwegian family that always served the notorious fish dish, lutefisk, which he jokingly called, “the piece of Cod that passes all understanding." (The recipe involves soaking a piece of cod fish in lye for three days. Seriously.)
Kevin recalled: “My mother, a fine teetotaling Christian who prided herself on never having alcohol in the house, was appalled the day my uncle brought a six-pack of beer as his contribution to the Christmas meal. To my mother’s horror, my father graciously accepted the libation. And so, in sullen silence, the family dinner was served...the traditional lutefisk and Godless beer.”
“I remember the smirk on my uncle's face as he began to eat the fish dish and wash it down with beer. My father, at the other end of the table shared in the merriment, while my poor grim-faced mother tried to remain polite...though sitting next to her, I was certain that she was asking God to strike her kin with righteous retribution.”
Now, at this point, Kevin went into some clinical details about the chemical reactions of the digestive system that I won’t relay here. Suffice to say that about half an hour into the meal, his dad and uncle suddenly excused themselves and bolted from the table. They both spent a miserable night of gastric distress, much to his mom’s quiet satisfaction.
Kevin said that was the Christmas he learned that mixing fish cured in lye with beer creates a volcanic reaction in the stomach similar to mixing vinegar and baking soda. He said it was also the year he learned that God answers prayers (his mother’s, at least.) And He's not above using science in working His will.
Don’t worry, tomorrow, I’ll bring you a story that touches the heart rather than the stomach.