Not a great combination

December 25, 2018

Warning: the following story 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. 

I want to thank Kevin for that unique story.  While most of my listeners’ stories touched the heart or the funny bone, his was the only one that touched the digestive system. 

 

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Comments 1-10 of 10

  • Sandy Taylor

    12/28/2018 08:08 PM

    Love this story!!

  • Mike Brannick

    12/26/2018 05:18 PM

    While I was stationed at Grand Forks AFB, ND I ate Lutefisk several times. I don't remember drinking beer with it and I guess that was a good thing. ND has a large Norwegian contingent. I liked Lefse (potato pancakes) a lot better.

  • G R Mortenson

    12/26/2018 08:56 AM

    Now a senior citizen, I also was part of a Norwegian family while growing up, albeit one that decided the problem was not the beer, but the lutefisk. And this difference in opinion made our Christmas holiday dinners more merry & cordial, I must say.

  • Hope sandefur

    12/26/2018 08:32 AM

    I enjoy reading and watching you show.. Thank you for finding a little humor in the world we live in. also being insightful into this crazy world we all share together. Thank you

  • Sarah Menne

    12/26/2018 03:35 AM

    I enjoyed the special holiday stories shared by your avid readers. I raised 4 children as a single Mom while going to Grand Canyon College (now a huge University). Money was scarce and my kids were lucky to receive one single present under the tree. However, one of my fondest memories is gathering some of the neighborhood children and taking them Christmas caroling in my neighborhood. I can no longer even remember the last time a group when caroling or anyone came a-caroling. That's a tradition that should never fall away during the celebration of our Savior's birth!

  • Tawanna Sinclair

    12/25/2018 10:48 PM

    Loved these special stories. Thank you for preserving them and looking them up to share.

  • Renee Perkins

    12/25/2018 04:45 PM

    Mike,
    I always enjoy your column and I especially enjoyed the Christmas stories you shared today. Keep up the good work and I hope you and your family have a blessed Christmas.
    Renee

  • Larry K Kirk

    12/25/2018 04:07 PM

    Thank You Sir for all your work deciphering and abbreviating what passes for news.
    Thank You for these stories you have passed on to us while you take a well deserved Christmas break.
    Yes Governor, we have HOPE. Just catch up on what God is doing in Boone County Arkansas.

  • Charlene Sanders

    12/25/2018 03:49 PM

    When the kids were youngsters I served the traditional holiday fare, one being sweet potatoes with brown sugar and melted marshmallows on top and browned. Everyone except for my oldest son loved them. One year I decided he was at least going to have some sweet potatoes. It wouldn't have bothered me except he made such a production out of his disgust. The faces, the sounds.... well I decided he would have some this year for sure.
    As it would happen his disgust was in full display as he vomited at the table, and all FOUR of them ran puking from the table.. i had and still have a strong stomach and my husband had a green look on his face, but we both were laughing. I laughed until I was crying. My oldest son just turned 42 this last year and his wife got him to have a single bite of "her" sweet potatoes. In an anti-climactic moment all he had to say was, "Hmm. Not bad"
    ??

  • Stephen Russell

    12/25/2018 01:20 PM

    maybe BBQ or fry the lutefish??? & maybe better with wine vs beer. looks good??