NORWEGIAN HERO WHO SAILED THE KON-TIKI


Knut Haugland, the last surviving crew member of the Kon-Tiki died on December 25. The six man 1947 Kon-Tiki expedition, organized by Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl, set out from Callao in Peru on a balsa wood raft to prove that people from South America could have settled Polynesia in pre-Columbian times. The expedition used only material and technology that would have been available to people at the time. The crew sailed the raft for 101 days and 4,900 miles across the Pacific before smashing into a reef at Raroia in the Tuamotu Islands.

But more importantly, Knut Haugland was a much decorated veteran of the Norwegian resistance. He helped sabotage a Norwegian heavy water plant that the Allies suspected might be used to construct a German atomic bomb. Haugland built a radio transmitter from a car battery and fishing rods. The mission was the subject of the 1965 film, Heroes of the Telemark. Haugland narrowly evaded capture when a transmitter he had hidden in the chimney of the Oslo Maternity Hospital was discovered.

Knut is at the top of my list of true Viking heroes. But all he ever said about his exploits was, “We just did a job.”

Mange tussen takk, Knut.

Ode to a Haggis


OK my good Norse friends. I. M. Buffaloed about your postings on my Facebook wall that you prefer HAGGIS to my menu for the Greenland Viking Feast. And I’ll never believe the rumor that the recipe came to Scotland on the longboats from Scandinavia.

Do you have any idea of what that Haggis stuff is? I can hardly even speak of it. It’s sheep’s puck. The heart, liver, and lungs of sheep all minced up with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt boiled together in the poor animal’s stomach for three hours. Oh dear! And up until now I thought I admired the Scots.

Here’s their menu for a Robert Burns’ traditional Scottish supper:

1 large Haggis

Neeps and Tatties (rutabaga and potatoes boiled and mashed)

A dram of Scotch whisky

I’ll need more than a dram to get through this supper! But consolation, we can read aloud from Scotland’s greatest poet. The poem I’m thinking of goes—something, something, and then—

“. . . Nine inch will please a lady. . . .” Burns was a great poet.

GREENLAND VIKING HOLIDAY FEAST – 1344


Magnus: Tie an apron over your best fur dress and get ready, Sigrid. Sixty people, sixty people! …and praise Thor,1 they’ll be here overnight. Your reputation as a cook will be tested to the limit. What have you got on hand? We’ll need at least 6 fat seals. Make a list.

Sigrid: 2 seals

Walrus meat leftovers I was turning into pemmican

1 seal, under the stones on the north side (the meat should be turned by now)

Magnus: That’s equal to about 4 seals. So I’ll need to beg a couple of seals from our neighbors; 2 seals from Hallgrim and 2 from Arne.

Sigrid: 13 bundles of caribou bones that are in the cold hole (hunters really enjoy the marrow)

2 rear legs of a good sized lamb

20 bundles of roots from the birch thicket

6 bundles of dried seaweed and algae

1 sealskin full of fermented birds (the kids’ll love them)

Guts from 8 seals stuffed with fat. These will be for snacks. I cut them into little thumb size pieces, and they’re the highlight of any meal.

And, for breakfast, Mangus, we have enough dried fish and butter seasoned with seaweed.

Mangus: We’ll need at least six of your soapstone boiling pots.

Sigrid: I only have four, but they’re getting warm now over the seal blubber cooking lamps. One has a crack, and leaks a little. I smeared grease on the inside, it helps, but we’ll need to do it all night.

Mangus: I’ll send the boys across the bay to get two more boiling pots from the neighbor. But what about the drinks?

 Sigrid: Bva, of course. It’s refreshing. I’ve already boiled the blood and I’ll mix it with the cold water just before serving begins.

 

1 Mangus has never adopted the true faith.

EDVARD MUNCH hears Columbus discovered America


Leif Ericson Day is approaching—October 9. All of us Nordic types are getting ready for big celebrations. It takes plenty of Goggling to make a celebration. So while looking through the great Viking ship stuff at http://media.photobucket.com I ran across the notorious Edvard Munch painting, Skrik, and I finally got it—Eddie’s true intention—the origin of The Scream.

It is a self-portrait. Here’s what happened. Eddie is walking down Ekeberg Hill above the Christiania harbor. He has just visited his sister Laura who is confined to a mental hospital. She’s manic depressive. Eddie only suffers from relentless melancholia. Anyway, as Eddie walks across the bridge he passes two guys. One says to the other, “History books all say that the Italian fugleskemsel, Christopher Columbus, discovered America!”

Well, suddenly the sky around Eddie turns blood red and the fjord and city become blue-black. He stands there trembling with anxiety and he senses an infinite scream passing from his bloodless lips and moving outward through all of Norway and beyond.

JOHN STEINBECK’S PROPAGANDA NOVEL: The Moon Is Down


 

 

Viking Magazine’s recent issue on “The Unsung Hero of the Telemark,” reminded me that on April 9th, 1940, life changed for all Norwegians with the launch of Operation Weserübung, the invasion of their homeland by the Nazi’s. The country was taken entirely by surprise and it was a time of chaos for many Norwegians. Consistent with Germany’s Blitzkrieg doctrine, five divisions of Nazis invaded at once, Quisling was on the radio declaring himself Prime Minister and ordering all resistance to halt at once and the Norwegian military was left in a state of initial disarray due unclear mobilization orders from the government. The whole of the country was in a state of psychological shock from the Nazi invasion.

 

But did you know that John Steinbeck’s novel, The Moon is Down, was written as propaganda designed to encourage the resistance movement. In 1941, Steinbeck was working with a precursor of the CIA, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). He was in close contact with refugees from Norway and Denmark and the information they gave him helped him decide what kind of propaganda to write.

 

Steinbeck’s method was far subtler than that of the overcooked rant. There are no heel-clicking Huns, no depraved, monocled intellectuals, no thundering sieg heils in his tale. Yet nothing can disguise the theft of freedom, and eventually the local patriots’ desire to regain their freedom impels them to resist.

 

In spite of the Nazis’ efforts to suppress The Moon is Down hundreds of thousands of copies of the Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, and French clandestine editions circulated during the occupation. Mere possession of it often meant an automatic death sentence.

 

 

 

 

Steinbeck’s explanation for the perceptiveness that made his propaganda so effective was simple. During his visit to Norway in 1946 to receive King Haakon’s medal, he stated, “I put myself in your place and thought what I would do.”

 

STEINBECK HAD A SURE SENSE OF AUDIENCE.

 

WHAT ALL US WRITER TYPES HANKER AFTER.

MORE NORSE AND VIKING STUFF: THE 13TH WARRIOR


Rethel the Archer

 

Enough of Steinbeck.  It’s these hot Viking types that are now giving me inspiration.  Here’s my favorite.  Rethel the Archer.  My gosh, he may be gray but he’s  not too old to be the 5th warrior to commit and take the bone from that nasty old seer, The Angel of Death.

Guess why I’m so taken with Rethel?  It’s because he keeps his mouth shut.  Only one line during the entire odyssey: “no wall, no moat, not even a presentable fence.”  And with this, he sums up the whole situation.  Bravo Rethel!

My saying for the day:  A book should be an axe to the frozen sea within us.   Some Viking should have said this.

 

 

JOHN STEINBECK’S advice to writers


 Every shattered writer should do a pilgrimage to the John Steinbeck birthplace in Salinas, California. Yeah, it’s true, I was shattered, not blocked exactly but every word sounded phony. My visit to John Steinbeck’s house set me back on the road to finishing my novel Burma Shave Days and Evangelist Nights. I’m taking his advice and it works. Steinbeck says:

 If a story is not about the hearer, he will not listen. And here I made a rule—a great and interesting story is about everyone or it will not last.

I thought about that while enjoyed the great lunch: mushroom bisque, bacon and tomato pie, and lemon cream cake. Or—was it that mysterious Steinbeck tea they served that boosted my creativity?  Anyway, hang in there, next time I’ll give you the recipe for the tomato pie.

Published in: on August 17, 2009 at 8:36 pm  Comments (2)  
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ANCIENT VIKING SHEEP STEW


You loved the Norwegian waffles, now how about something really Viking. Those guys on the Viking Facebook have been asking for it. ANCIENT VIKING SHEEP STEW because trouble always sets heavy on an empty stomach.

ANCIENT VIKING SHEEP STEW

Serves 75

Ingredients

  • 50 to 60 pounds fat lamb
  • 3 pounds white fat pork
  • 3 pounds smoked pork side meat
  • 50 to 60 onions
  • 3 tablespoons red pepper
  • 7 tablespoons black pepper
  • 10 tablespoons salt
  • 4 to 5 pounds of butter
  • 3 1/2 to four loaves of bread, broken into pieces 

Dress the lamb. Saw the sides from the backbone and cut the meat into smaller portions. Place meat in a kettle with cold water (the best is one of those big old black iron pots, about 30-35 gallons is good for outdoors). Start the fire. Add the finely cubed fat meat and side meat. Then add onion. When meat is tender, remove all bones, and add seasoning: taste to adjust seasoning. Add the butter and the bread.

To stir, use a pronged stick 5 feet long, or a long-handled fork. Stir enough to keep stew from sticking. When water is needed, add hot, not cold, water. Cook until thick enough to eat with a fork. This will take 6 hours or more. Serve hot. But, leftovers are good cold for breakfast.

Illustrated by Joachim Beuckelaer (Flanders, 1500 ad)

Published in: on July 19, 2009 at 9:20 pm  Comments (6)  
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RECIPE FOR OLD-FASHIONED NORWEGIAN WAFFLES


  1. waffles 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every day of her life my Norwegian grandmother, Ovidia, cooked waffles for breakfast.  This is the recipe she gave me.  These are not the puffy, thick Belgian things, and they’re not the crispy tear-your-mouth-out American things—they’re soggy and DELICIOUS.

IN A BOWL                         2 cups flour

                                                pinch of salt

                                                2 heaping tsp. baking powder

                                                1 tsp. sugar

                                                1 tbs. oil

 ADD                                       2  eggs

                                                2 cups buttermilk

 Mix it all up.  Batter should be thick and pour slowly like molten lava.  I put in a drop of Mexican vanilla to make them smell good while baking.  Ovidia wouldn’t have done this.

The Joachim Beuckelaer painting above, Making Waffles, is from the mid-1500s.  Check out the guy on the right.  He seems to have something other than waffles on his mind.  And OH MY GOSH,  it looks like they’re having fish, not bacon with their waffles.

 

 

LET’S TALK ABOUT SOME NORSE VIKING STUFF


The Serpent Jörmungandr

No, it’s not the Ouroboros.

Yes, it is the ancient symbol of a snake swallowing its own tail.

This is from Norse mythology.  Jörmungandr is one of the three monster children of Loki who grew so large that he could encircle the world and grasp his own tail in his teeth. 

Or, as in the legends of Ragnar Lodbrok, King Herraud gives a small worm to his daughter Ƃóra Town-Hart and it grows into a large serpent, encircles her cottage, and bites itself in the tail. 

Then, Ragnar has a son who is born with the image of a white snake in on eye. The snake encircled the iris and bit itself in the tail and the son is named Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye. 

I.M. Buffaloed by what all this Viking mythology stuff means. My Norwegian grandmother never explained it. Can you tell me? 

I only know that most of the time I feel like poor Jörmungandr—devouring myself trying to write books, and market them, and do social networking all at the same time. Maybe I have a snake in my eye, like Sigurd.

Published in: on June 26, 2009 at 11:20 pm  Comments (9)  
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