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.