Saturday, May 8, 2010

Lefse – Breakfast of Champions


I don’t usually blog about my food.  But anytime lefse is made, eaten, or even passes through my mind, I think of my ancestors – I can’t help it.  As I’m rolling out the paper-thin sheets of potato-based dough, I wonder if my grandmothers through the generations have felt that ache in their upper arms, before remembering that they probably did this much more frequently than I!

As I put each round sheet onto the griddle to cook, I wonder if my grandmothers were fascinated by the characteristic brown splotches created in such a haphazard pattern.  My guess is, if I were able to ask them, they’d look at me like I was crazy.  Making lefse, to them, was probably in the same category as doing laundry or sweeping the floor. 

I wonder how they served their lefse – if it was a part of their evening meals, as we use bread; or if they enjoyed it for breakfast, as I often do, or how they prepared it.  Plain?  Brown sugar?  Butter and cinnamon-sugar?


Whether I’m making lefse or eating it, it’s the one time that I feel very close to the Norwegian women who have come before me.  No amount of genealogical research compares to doing what they did, and having made it a part of my family’s lives.  It’s as if my grandmothers, Agnes, Lise, Anne Johanne, Marie, and Alfhilde, are somehow there with me as I do the work and savor the product.  A little part of them lives on.


Lori, of Genealogy and Me, wrote a great post this week about interviewing the old folks – I’d like to take it a step further, and suggest you learn the customs and family traditions as well.  If not for my grandmother, Lisa, who took the initiative to talk about these things, even when I was too young to really appreciate it, and my Aunt Mary, who taught me to make some of the treats she enjoyed as a child, these traditions would be nothing more than a vague memory for me, and non-existent to my children.  This Mother’s Day, let’s be the women who pass down our traditions.


  1. Lefse brought me to your blog today. I've eaten lefse -- once -- and loved it. A friend had lived in Norway for a few years, learned to make it, then brought it to our house as a treat. He gave me the recipe but I've never made it. His looked a little thicker than yours, and I understand that, like tortillas, there are a variety of kinds and ways to make it. We ate ours as a dessert.

    I like your idea to learn the customs and traditions of our grandmothers and do them to learn about their lives.

  2. A thought provoking subject. As you make things from 'scratch', it makes you think "how did they make do so well back in the day". I will have to try the recipe I found. Some have more salt than others. I think I will go with the "dash" of salt.
    Thanks for sharing.