[Sca-cooks] lutefisk and Lefse

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Mon Jan 11 04:42:06 PST 2010

On Jan 11, 2010, at 2:58 AM, H Westerlund-Davis wrote:

> Lutefisk and Harkle (which is half rotted shark from Iceland) are all eaten as reminders of the "starving times." Why would they eat something like this. It's kind of why people would eat lamprey?

Why would people eat Velveeta?

Why would people eat Minute Rice?

Why would people eat Chicken McNuggets?

Clearly as reminders of the "starving times"? Possibly, inasmuch as tastes can be affected by a taste for not dying, or in some cases by other practical concerns than simple aesthetics.

Let's consider ham. It's meat from a time of plenty (remember the whole animal, possibly more than one, has just been slaughtered) meant to be kept for a time of need. In order to do this, salt is added and some of the water removed. It is then doused with insect repellent _and_ infused with carcinogenic smoke residue and left to rot for weeks or months (because of course any aging process we wish to present in a negative light must include the words rotten, fermented, or putrid -- even if none of them are in fact accurate).

How do we react to this treatment? Sometimes by paying $17 a pound for the stuff so we can eat it for breakfast with eggs, and baked on holidays. Evidently it's considered "good", in spite of the salt, the insect repellent, and the creosote. Oh, and the rotting. I forgot to mention the rotting; one cannot forget this important detail.

But clearly, and here I am serious, taste in food is at least partly based on practical concerns. If you eat something because you need to to survive, first of all, you do your best to find a way to make as aesthetically pleasing as possible. Then you may find that as the need decreases, and other foods become available, some of the population will want to stubbornly cling to their roots and their value system and others would prefer to forget.

Only time will tell which way it goes with Chicken McNuggets. I'm actually a little leery of people forgetting McNuggets; they say people who don't study their history are doomed to repeat it, after all...


"Most men worry about their own bellies, and other people's souls, when we all ought to worry about our own souls, and other people's bellies."
			-- Rabbi Israel Salanter

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