Saturday, January 26, 2019

History and Food Memories at the Nordic Museum

1/22/19 Nordic Museum

A couple of months ago, USk Seattle met at the newly reopened Nordic Museum during its annual Julefest, which brings in mobs of people. It was difficult to both sketch and see the exhibits, so I opted to spend most of my time sketching the people enjoying the festivities and the new modern building from outside. I vowed to return another time to give the exhibits the attention they deserve. That time was earlier this week, when Greg and I finally made it over there.

At the turn of the 20th century, a quarter of the Pacific Northwest’s immigrant population had come from Scandinavian countries, so we have a strong Nordic heritage here. I enjoyed learning about some of that heritage from the beautifully arranged exhibits that offer a history of Nordic culture from the Vikings all the way through modern times. Greg, who has Norwegian blood, appreciated learning about some of his family’s heritage.

Pickled herring (left) and a variety of cheeses and pickles with ostebrett (flatbread)
After working up a good appetite seeing all the exhibits, we finished our visit at the museum’s Freya café for lunch. I chose a “personal smørgåsbord,” which consisted of a variety of cheeses and pickled vegetables, and added a side of pickled herring. It was all delicious – especially the Norwegian geitost cheese (the one that’s the color of peanut butter or caramel). As soon as I tasted it, I suddenly recalled that my brother had brought some back from a trip to Europe when I was a child. I didn’t know what it was called then or where it came from, but now I know both. It’s always a wonderful surprise when my taste buds have memories that the rest of me has forgotten.

As for the pickled herring? It was startlingly similar to a type of sushi that my father used to love – something else I hadn’t tasted in decades. The Nordic Museum was full of both history and unexpected food memories for me.

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