Hold Your Noses, Lutefisk Season Is Here

This morning on my daily walk to Jerbanetorget, I wandered past the Norwegian restaurant Dovrehallen, as usual. Panic set in as I saw the latest addition to the menu – Lutefisk.

Yes folks, Lutefisk season has begun. Perhaps the best way to explain Lutefisk is as the Norwegian version of Marmite, you either love it or hate it. Although I have a sneaky suspicion that those who claim to love it, really don’t.

Lutefisk is basically rotting fish.

“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” (from Pontoon)

Now I'm all up for trying new things. Since moving to Norway I've tried Norwegian produce such as brown cheese and Akevitt, but I draw the line at Lutefisk. As does this chap:

“Lutefisk is not food, it is a weapon of mass destruction. It is currently the only exception for the man who ate everything. Otherwise, I am fairly liberal, I gladly eat worms and insects, but I draw the line on lutefisk” (from a Jeffrey Steingarten interview in Dagbladet)

I'm enjoying these little Lutefisk cultural interludes, so I am shall close with two more, with great thanks to the information bible that is Wikipedia.

“Well, we tried the lutefisk trick and the raccoons went away, but now we've got a family of Norwegians living under our house!” (from an Ole and Lena joke)

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About the Author: David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a freelance writer for technology companies in Scandinavia.


  1. Try surströmming if you get to Sweden around August time. Also rotten fish. Keith Floyd refused to eat it and I think the Swedes are quite proud of that.

  2. Oh no, I LOVE lutefisk! I prefer it homemade, though. Also, you should eat it with mushed peas, bacon, etc.. And I’m not from the west coast 😉

  3. David; It’s quite obvious you don’t know a damn thing about lutefisk. As a journalist your research is worthless. . Do you have any credibility at all? Go back to the UK . Perhaps your feeble attempt at humor would be appreciated there..

    1. Thank you for your input, Carl! Perhaps you could expand on your anonymous insult with a little reasoning? 🙂 FYI, this post was in fact written in 2011 as a “first impression” post, long before I was working as a journalist. Perhaps it’s not just me who needs to “do my research”? I would welcome further comments in the form of a guest article if you are interested, but please, no more trolling.

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