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WOODWORKING

BY DAVE WOOD

Boose stuffing choices are endless

In our peregrinations around Pierce County, members of the previously mentioned River Falls Hamburger Cruising Club, Ltd., have noticed that even the humblest of saloons these days have a section on the menu called WRAPS.

Wraps, to my mind, are an abomination, which involves stuffing a variety of fillings onto a flat “wrapper,” bearing some similarity to thin wet cardboard, devoid of any taste whatsoever. Some wrappers are dyed mint green or shrimp-shell pink that makes them even more difficult to look at or digest.

Friends of the society have bemoaned the appearance of the wrap, as foretelling a depressing culinary future. I try to convince them that this is not the end of fine saloon dining. That wraps have been around a long time, long before this hideous new iteration. I come from a neighborhood in Western Wisconsin that has been enjoying wraps for 150 years, having brought the delicacy here from Norway.

I refer of course to the lefse “boose.” All great culinary cultures have similar concoctions, including the Lebanese pita pocket, the Mexican tortilla, the Russian blintz, the American hot dog bun, the French crepe, all of which make the detestable modern wrap seem like eating a BLT in a cardboard mailing box.

That brings us back to the Lefse, a thin, flexible pancake made from russet potatoes, lard, flour and cream, baked in a special round pan or on stove top. When this round white sheet begins to develop brown spots on its surface, it is removed from the griddle, folded and stored in a cool place.

To assemble a boose, you unfold it, spread it with butter and a filling of your choice. Then roll the pliable pancake into a diploma, not to be confused with Krumkake, and sit down. Grab the boose with both hands and aim it for your mouth, into which you bite off about an inch or two of the entire boose. Chew, swallow, and take another bite. To insure you get a shot of the good stuff inside each time, you need to squeeze the pancake as if it were a toothpaste tube. And what of the stuffing? Your choices are almost endless: Shards of turkey meat if it’s Thanksgiving Shards of turkey meat and mashed rutabagas if it’s Thanksgiving Shards of turkey meat and mashed rutabagas and creamy coleslaw . . .

Shards of turkey meat, mashed rutabagas, coleslaw and cranberries . . .

We call that last one The Whopper But you get the picture. Try it with stuffing from the bird. With tiny Swedish meatballs. (Available year around at Swenson's bar in Blair, Wis., the last time I checked.)

Herring in cream sauce (Olsen's from Minneapolis is best) Herring in wine sauce (Olsen's, of course) Poached lutefisk (dip boose in melted butter) Poached lutefisk and mashed rutabagas for a burp you won't forget Poached lutefisk and mashed potatoes. (Spuds keep the fish from slipping out of boose.)

White sugar and butter (Women prefer this because of their delicate nature) Brown sugar and butter. My personal favorite? So many choices, so little time!

My grandmother who baked her lefse on the flat top of her Beaver Dam wood cookstove, introduced me to her favorite when I went to live with her. It may sound peculiar, but what the hell? Butter a boose, place on it one hearty rasher of fried crisp side pork, top with creamy coleslaw and roll into diploma. Squeeze, bite and chew. The side pork must be trimmed of rind and very crisp. Bacon is a poor substitute. Sidepork. is much more unctuous.

Back to Blair: this little village is home to a fantastic factory that manufactures commercial lefse called “Countryside,” where dozens of local folks roll out by hand REAMS of pancakes and ship this remarkable product all over the world. It is simply the best commercial product I know of. WARNING. Do not confuse Countryside with “Mrs. Olsen's Lefse,” which is always available wherever particular people DONT congregate, to garble an old commercial ad line from Pall Mall cigarettes. Should you by chance encounter a pile of this ethnic perversion, run for your life. Unless, perhaps, you need your loafers re-soled.

Dave would like to hear from you. Phone him at 715-426-9554.

November 16, 2021