Lutefisk, The Paris Sewer Museum, and WALL-E

9 Jul
Lutefisk dinner

A lovely traditional meal, featuring a big chunk of lutefisk front and center. Image from Wikipedia.

How amused was I to hear discussion of lefse on Episode 430 of WDW Today? It would have been nice under any circumstances…but it was doubly amusing because this week’s Those Darn Cats podcast also mentions that same tasty Norwegian treat! We also touch upon Lutefisk, a delicacy you’re not likely to find on Disney property. For those unfamiliar with Lutefisk, here’s a Garrison Keillor quote I grabbed out of Wikipedia:

“Lutefisk is cod that has been dried in a lye solution. It looks like the desiccated cadavers of squirrels run over by trucks, but after it is soaked and reconstituted and the lye is washed out and it’s cooked, it looks more fish-related, though with lutefisk, the window of success is small. It can be tasty, but the statistics aren’t on your side. It is the hereditary delicacy of Swedes and Norwegians who serve it around the holidays, in memory of their ancestors, who ate it because they were poor. Most lutefisk is not edible by normal people. It is reminiscent of the afterbirth of a dog or the world’s largest chunk of phlegm.”

My dear husband, running from a giant sediment-cleaning ball at the Paris Sewer Museum

My dear husband, running from a giant sediment-cleaning ball at the Paris Sewer Museum

I hope I never forget the time my son and I were walking past Epcot Norway, and I turned to him saying, “Honey, this is where some of your ancestors came from.” I had to stop myself short…my son’s ancestors were not, in fact from Central Florida. They were from the real Norway, and visiting a pavilion at Epcot is absolutely no substitute for visiting the real place. I do imagine that if I ever make it to the real Norway, dodging the occasional encounter with lutefisk will be just one of the joys of visiting a country rich in heritage and culture, much like a visit to Paris just doesn’t feel complete without a visit to the sewer museum, or maybe the Catacombs next time. We live in a complicated, sometimes smelly, and always unpredictable world…pretty much the opposite of the idealized international experiences we enjoy at Epcot.

And don’t get me wrong: I do in fact enjoy those experiences. I love dashing into Epcot Japan’s Mitsukoshi Department Store to grab a couple phone charms. I enjoy wandering the Twinings tea shop in Epcot UK, and wonder how different that will feel after I’ve actually seen London. I can never resist ducking into the Mexico pavilion to look at the folk arts, or perhaps grab a ride on what my son and I used to call “The River of Boredom” before Donald and pals plussed the place.

But none of these are a substitute for getting out into that un-sanitized real world, full of sewers and lutefisk and traffic jams. And hey, isn’t that actually one of the messages of this summer’s Pixar blockbuster? I love the moment when WALL-E’s interrupted this woman’s quality time with her computer screen on her barcolounger, and she discovers for the first time that there’s actually a swimming pool in the middle of this big ol’ lounge area. Life works best for me when I approach computer-mediated and otherwise-artificial experiences consciously, carefully, enjoying them only for what they are, and doing my best to approach this big messy beautiful world open-heartedly.

Even if it means yes, occasionally having a bite of lutefisk.

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