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January 2, 2008 | 7 Comments

Dear Garrison,
As an honorary Minnesotan (my Mom's from here) visiting Stillwater (on the St. Croix) for our annual New Year's family gathering, I am wondering — What is "fresh" lutefisk? This question arose as we shopped at Brine's Meat Market (a Stillwater institution — check it out) yesterday, and saw the sign advertising it. I didn't want to show my ignorance at the local store (I could pass as a Minnesotan most days, with my heavy coat and snow boots). Isn't lutefisk by definition, not fresh? I would hate to see/taste/smell less than fresh lutefisk.

Any help on solving this mystery appreciated!

Sarah R.
Newcastle, CA

Ah, Sarah, Sarah, Sarah. "I didn't want to show my ignorance" — that's the wrong road for an intelligent young woman to travel. Showing ignorance is how we learn, it's how we get strangers to tell us their stories, it's how we experience the world fully. False sophistication — putting on a front of cool knowingness — is the road to ignorance. You should never ever be afraid to say, "What is that?" No need to preface it with an apology. I say this from bitter experience, Sarah. I wasted some of the best years of my life in pretending to a worldly sophistication that stopped my education right in its tracks. Even today, people looking at me imagine that I know all sorts of things that in fact I'm stupid about. Such as fresh lutefisk. I imagine it means that Brine's makes their own lutefisk and isn't selling stuff in plastic bags that was manufactured a year ago in China. I know Brine's Meat Market well. I used to shop there almost thirty years ago, before you were born (I assume, though I don't want to ask), before our radio show was broadcast in Newcastle, before Brine's was selling lutefisk, when they were mainly selling lean ground round and enormous pastrami sandwiches. Bud Brine would've been thrilled if a young woman from California had asked him about fresh lutefisk. He'd have invited her back behind the counter and offered her a taste of it and told her the whole story. Remember this little life lesson, Sarah. Some of the great journalists of our time have found that nothing works so well in gathering information as a display of ignorance. Happy New Year.


I am feeling compelled to comment on the Fresh Lutefisk discussion. First let me say I whole heartedly agree with the value of revelation of personal ignorance, not just for the way it sometimes plays out but also for the self-cleansing effect, it should also be a daily ritual. But really why I am moved to type is that this story reminded me of more than once having been brought to giggles by the packets labeled "Real Imitation French Dressing" in the Honeywell employee cafeteria some 20 years ago. I was fresh out of college and found that amazingly funny, was great to be so easily amused. It will be my New Year's resolution to get there more often, the Lutefisk story is a good start.
Thanks, Shelley S
Coon Rapids,MN

Dear Mr. K: I am a Razorback (born and reared in LR), living in Alabama. Pray tell, just what is "lutefisk?" Is it kin to 'catfish?' I could 'Google' lutefisk, but would rather receive an honest Yankee response. (That is, if a Minnesotan is considered a Yankee; but that's another subject.....) Affectionately, Janie

Reframing one's "ignorance" as inquisitiveness, executed with genuine, heartfelt interest is the way to grow in knowledge. Most people enjoy imparting wisdom - sublime or ridiculous - to a sincere seeker.

Jay W.
Columbia, SC

Yes, but what is fresh lutefisk?


"that nothing works so well in gathering information as a display of ignorance"

I'd be inclined to believe this, but then there's the current occupant.

Dear Garrison: 1-13-08 I tuned in just as a woman with a beautiful voice was ending her song. It was in Spanish and I think something like I can't live my life without you. Could you pleae tell me who she is. I love your show. I was born in Minnesota. Most of my family on my mother's side was from Pilager. Along time ago. Thanks: Glenadine

I am now very curious about lutefish as no one has yet to offer an answer. I would write love to tell personal tales of living and learning, however, I have to google lutefish!

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