My grandma made the best lefse bread. Flour, butter, potatoes, salt, and a spash of milk–mixed, formed into golf sized balls then rolled flat like pie crust and popped into a fry pan to cook until dark brown spots formed on each side–DELICIOUS!
At New Seasons (an upscale grocery store in our area that curates products like a museum), I was delighted to see this Norwegian flatbread for sale and eagerly spent five dollars on two pieces. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed by the bland bread. Something was missing! My son calls the ingredient that makes our recipe special “love” and the store bought bread was lacking. Nobody makes lefse like family. I realize that my sample size was far too small for such a sweeping statement. I’d eaten hundreds of pieces of family made bread but only two made by non-family.
When my book group met at Broder Soder in Portland recently, I was cautiously optimistic when I saw another opportunity to try lefse made by someone other than family. I’d heard great reviews of this spot so looked forward to our outing.
My family eats lefse just once a year on Christmas Eve. We pile on mashed potatoes and butter then a dollop of lutefisk. It’s a monochromatic meal BUT it’s always anchored to FUN. My special holiday meal has too many memories associated for it to be brilliant as a stand alone. For the first two decades of my life, I had to eat it before opening a Christmas present. While my first attempt at non-family lefse was on an ordinary, average day, my second attempt came with the joyful celebration of combined friends and literature. Book group meetings are BETTER than Christmas. The conditions were right for anchoring the experience to a joyful experience better than a new Barbie or bead making kit.
At Broder Soder, I enjoyed lefse with shredded beef, cheese and eggs. Like the lefse at New Seasons, it was square and folded into fourths. My son-in-law’s specialty is breakfast. His Mexican and Dominican heritage influences his morning inspirations. Once long ago on the fourth of July at the crack of dawn, I walked through the house to the dryer to get clothes from the dryer when the sudden smell of bacon made me realize that I was indeed NOT home alone. LUCKILY, I dropped to the floor and quickly crawled behind furniture back to my room before my future-son-in-law offered breakfast OR saw what his future wife might be genetically predisposed to look like in 25 years. His love language is food so it’s likely that carbs, bacon and genes will be a daily challenge for my daughter in years to come. She now makes amazing lefse and and without the dollop of lutefisk, the stuffed grilled tortillas he makes for breakfast are surprisingly similar to the the Norwegian flatbread served at Broder Soder. My second not-made-by-family lefse experience was once again a let down.
Topped with greens and surrounded by tomatoes, the Broder Soder dish was much more colorful than our family dish. Bright yellow egg yolks, the red and yellow of tomatoes plus the green and purple greens seemed like a clever disguise for the cheese that oozed from within.
While it wasn’t bad, it left me longing for the flavors of home. While the location was bright and beautiful, the feeling tone in the restaurant was not as warm as I’d hoped for. While my book group can get boisterous, it seemed that we were inconveniencing the staff so Broder Soder is not likely a place I’ll visit again.