Poulsbo First Lutheran celebrates 106 years of lutefisk

Poulsbo First Lutheran Church celebrated its 106th Lutefisk Dinner on Saturday. Community members trickled in throughout the day and there was no shortage of volunteers.

Paul Davis, Poulsbo First Lutheran’s director of faith formation, said the event received so many volunteers this year, the church had to start turning people away.

“We did have a lot of volunteers, because as you can see, it takes a lot of volunteers to put this on,” Davis said at the event. “It’s a nice problem to have, when you have more people than you need.”

This year’s lutefisk, Davis said, had been receiving heaps of praise from those in attendance.

“It is awesome. I keep asking everybody and they’re [saying] it’s the best fish they ever had. It’s better than their family cooking. It’s nice and flaky and tender, very good.”

Dave Lambert, owner of Poulsbo’s Slippery Pig Brewery, and Erik Swanson were behind the cooking of the lye-cured whitefish once again this year. Lambert and Swanson took the reins last year after the Lutefisk Dinner was canceled in 2016 due to a lack of volunteers with the knowledge necessary to cook 300 pounds of lutefisk.

Lambert said he was aware that the group’s efforts had not gone unnoticed by those enjoying the fruits of their labor.

“We just got a comment that there was somebody out there from Norway who said it was very, very good,” Lambert said. “If you translate that into English, it means, ‘That was the best I’ve ever had,’” he said.

This year, Lambert and company were keeping close track of the cooking process to ensure that future generations may know how to cook lutefisk.

“We’re taking notes this year,” Lambert said through a fog of steam billowing from the bathtub-like cooking vessel. “This is the 106th year, so ideally this will be for the 212th annual dinner.”

Natalia Tucker, the crowned Miss Poulsbo 2018, greeted guests during the event as well. Tucker said she was no novice to lutefisk either.

“This will be my second time having lutefisk so I’m super excited,” she said. “I have to say, I’m not entirely a fan of the butter sauce, but I enjoyed the white sauce and I really actually like lutefisk.”

—Nick Twietmeyer is a reporter with Kitsap News Group. Nick can be reached at ntwietmeyer@soundpublishing.com

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