From Round to Square (and back)

For The Emperor's Teacher, scroll down (↓) to "Topics." It's the management book that will rock the world (and break the vase, as you will see). Click or paste the following link for a recent profile of the project:

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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Prairie Ethnography—Lutefisk New Year

Click here for the introduction to the Round and Square series "Prairie" Ethnography
This is a "small" (小) post—click here for an explanation of Round and Square post lengths.
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On this date on Round and Square's History 
1 January 2011—Starting Up the Mountains (RSQ's first post)
1 January 2012—Hurtin' Country: My Home's in Alabama
1 January 2013—Hurtin' Country: The Show Hank Never Gave
1 January 2014—China's Lunar Calendar 2014 01-01

Click here for the three Round and Square "lutefisk posts."
It has been a hectic and rewarding holiday month in the Zody-LaFleur household at 709 Harrison Avenue (the land of Zola Ink). Four cats of uneven temperament (at least with regard to one other) are back in the same general areas, although sturdy oak doors separate those with the greatest mutual antipathy. 

Pat and I have been streamlining the house and our work spaces in anticipation of an exciting 2015, in which our goals for a still-in-definitional-progress joint enterprise called Zola Something will begin to take shape.
[b] Packaged RF

It has been a busy month, but things are coming together nicely.

And so, on New Year's Day, of the Gregorian variety, we celebrated.

Instead of going out to eat, or having any number of varieties of haute cuisine, we returned to our roots. Our holiday meal was a little bit Russian, a wee bit Chinese (the areas we study), a lot of Czech and a big ol' dump truck of Norwegian. 

It is the latter that I shall discuss here today. If you just know me by my "French" name, you don't know that I am 90% or more Norwegian, and that only my name sounds French. I am Red River Valley North Dakota Norwegian Lutheran the core.

And I love few foods on this planet more than my treasured lutefisk.

Yes, lutefisk—codfish soaked in lye...and then unsoaked and baked into a gelatinous pile of, um, codfish formerly soaked in lye. Yes, lye (poison).
[c] Codfish (not really lute..fisk) RL

We soak out the lye in order to preserve our ethnic heritage. There is nothing like food-borne poisons to put a damper on ethnic culinary celebration.

Ask the Neanderthals about mushrooms. Really, just ask.

We soak out the lye.

So it went down like this in our house this week. I decided that it was time to create a new Zola tradition, and to eat our heritage foods on New Year's Day. This did not come about by chance. Not only did I study with the eminent sociologist Edward Shils (author of Tradition) a few decades ago, but I have been thinking about the role of those little patterns in our lives ever since. So I'll take credit for the "tradition" part.

Nonetheless, this new tradition in our Zola household (we can legitimately call it such by 2020, I reckon) owes everything to Pat's trip to Woodman's last week. When does even the most wonderful of Czech heritage partners come home from the grocery store with a big ol' hunk of frozen lutefisk? At that very moment, I knew that eleven years of marriage rested on a powerful foundation of understanding, innovation, and love.

We had lutefisk in the freezer, and our shared lives were about to change forever.
[d] Process(ing) RF

You see, if you have been reading my lutefisk posts (see the top and bottom of this post for links), you will know that home preparation of lutefisk—once common all over Minnesota, Wisconsin, and even some backward parts of Norway—is almost gone today. 

Very few people actually make lutefisk at home anymore, and my Prairie Ethnography posts speak of church basement dinners that can never really approximate those wonderful lutefisk repasts prepared by mothers, aunts, grandmas, and great aunts (not to mention great grandmas)...and an occasional gender-busting proud Norwegian man. 

Occasional. I aspire to be him.

And now, as we start 2015, we have a new lutefisk tradition in the Zola household.
[e] New world RF

Not only did it taste delicious (to my long before acquired lutefisk tastebuds), but it was almost a sacred experience. 

In the hour of that wonderful meal, Ricoeurian memories merged with Eliadean hopes for the future. It was a Bourdieuvian amalgam of patterned culinary habitus in a very braised new world

I had returned to the center—to the lutefisk at the heart of all North Dakota Norwegian immigrant identity.

And when the last gelatinous forkful was gone, I turned my lutefisk eyes toward the heavens and vowed that my generation will not be the last to cook lutefisk at home.

And so, beginning in the autumn of 2015 (after I return from a summer research trip to Germany...and maybe a side-trip to Norway), I am announcing the Zola Lutefisk Lectures. 

This will be like a lecture series like no other...and not the least because lutefisk will be served.

More information will follow.

Check this space...for lutefisk and prairie ethnography.
[f] In Cod We Trust RF

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