Wednesday, July 29, 2009
The Norwegian Culinary Arts
Saint Olaf started out as a Viking pirate, then converted the Christianity in 1010 and 5 years later was the King of Norway; 15 years after that he was killed in battle, as he attempted to retake the throne that had been wrested from him by Norwegians angry at his determination to Christianize them; 844 years later a Lutheran college in Minnesota was named after him, along with a town in Otter Tail County.
[Olaf’s body was buried nearby the River Nid and promptly a spring gushed forth and naturally it had healing powers. Not unlike the spring that sprang from the burial spot of Saint Julitta, who died in 303 and whose feast is tomorrow. Not unlike so many others, so many in fact that if you put them all together all the water on the planet would have holy healing powers.]
For 75 years, from 1549 to 1625, St Olaf’s Church in Tallinn was the tallest building in the world. Until the spire was struck by lightning, and then St Mary’s Church in northern Germany took over the Tallest Title. Until it too was struck by lightning. And so on.
In remote areas of northern Norway, on St Olaf’s day, the inhabitants still eat a dish known as Saint Olaf’s Testicles, or more colloquially, Holy Balls, in honor of the saint's reputed valor in battle. It is made with fish flour, fresh mint, eggs and aquavit and then fried. Some Norwegians have this with loganberry sauce, but purists reject that addition.