Norwegians (?!) in Van Nuys.

From the LA TIMESswedish_meatballs:

Once a year, the Sons of Norway,  Norrona Lodge #50 in Van Nuys, put on their “world famous” community dinner. You can expect a crowd for this event, which features all sorts of Scandinavian delicacies.

Over the course of two days — tonight and Saturday night — more than 800 people are expected to have at the all-you-can-eat buffet, including Norwegian meatballs made with veal, pork and beef, lefse, which is like a buttery tortilla made from potatoes, and trimmings such as carrots, peas and a traditional cream sauce. Desserts include specialties such as krumkake, which is a thin, sweetened batter baked until golden brown and draped into the shape of a cone, and rosette, which is deep fried and then sugared.

And then there is lutefisk. We’ll let Gerald Rowe, vice president of the lodge, describe that:

“It’s a boiled fish,” he said.

It’s also an acquired taste, and no traditional holiday dinner would be complete without it. (When asked whether he liked lutefisk, Rowe answered diplomatically: “Some peple eat a lot of lutefisk and some people won’t touch it. I just like to sample it for traditional reasons. I like the meatballs.”)

“We’ve done this same dinner for about 40 years,” Rowe said. “I can’t tell you exactly when it started, but it was about in the late 1950s.” Lodge members do all the cooking, and they have been at it for days now, baking the lefse, rolling the meatballs and finishing up all sorts of other prep work. The emphasis is on keeping tradition, and nothing is left to chance: “We get our lutefisk from Minneapolis. It arrives in a refrigerated truck. We ordered 725 pounds,” Rowe said.

The annual meatball and lutefisk dinner is the single biggest fund-raising event for the lodge that serves the area’s Scandinavian community. But on this night, everyone is invited to be an honorary Nord. Dinner is served today and Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m. at 14312 Friar St. in Van Nuys, near the Civic Center. Cost is $20 and children are half-price. There is also a boutique selling Scandinavian arts and crafts holiday items.

For those of you who cannot make it, though, we dug up this recipe from The Times’ archives for  Swedish meatballs with dill and buttered noodles. Enjoy!

— Rene Lynch

Photo: Bob Carey / Los Angeles Times

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