NYT: A Return to Nordic Roots
“We call cream of mushroom soup ‘the Lutheran binder,’ “ said Eric Dregni, a Norwegian-American academic and the author of “Vikings in the Attic,” who studies the cultural heritage of Scandinavians in the Midwest. Mr. Schoenefeld, the chef at Haute Dish, worked for months to refine his version of tater tot hotdish, which serves as the signature dish for his restaurant and, frequently, as lunch in the Minneapolis-St. Paul public school system. (At the Bachelor Farmer, there is no hotdish on the menu as yet.)
The original Vikings are not forgotten here, but their food traditions have become something of a punch line. At best, traditions like lutefisk (lye-cured cod) and homemade lefse (soft flatbread) are resuscitated at church suppers and at Christmastime. At worst, they are the butt of frequent jokes about the general awfulness of Scandinavian-American food: white, bland, creamy and fishy.