Toasted, but Full of Rommegrot

Bryon and I have returned from the Decorah Nordic Fest.

I’d like to do a shout out to fellow Viable Pardiser Matt Hughes and his wife Steph for being kind enough to show us around a little bit, and talk writing. Matt gave Bryon and I a great tour of Luther College on Friday, and today he and Steph wandered about with us while we looked at handicrafts and long ships.

Thanks again, and Matt, try not to kill over a 100 characters before the workshop!


Yesterday was all about taking pictures at Luther. Now I have a really good feel for Quartz’ office, and where Sigfried and Sigurda would essentially live while they’re scouting out Decorah for Queen Janetta. Luther is a beautiful campus. As Iowa State grads, Bryon and I both were appreciative of their green belt. Their performing arts centers were truly impressive. Matt helped us get behind a lot of locked doors.

In the evening, Bryon and I went to the festival. I’ll cut here, but if you want to get all Norse, just click the link.

We ate a lot of small samples of Norwegian food. Rommegrot, or sour cream porridge, remains our favorite. While you eat it, you can feel the arteries clogging, especially if you coat it with melted butter and cinnamon. What a way to go!

We had yummy lefse, terrific sotsuppe (a sweet compote with a hint of Mogen David), and Norwegian meatballs (I thought the taste was a little weird, but I *could* eat it.) Of course, you might think I was engaging in unhealthy snacking, but I assure you, this was legitimate book research. 😉

We spent the evening watching Norwegian folk dances. Folk dance is remarkably similar across the world, it seems, but we had a chance to listen to some great traditional music and see some costumes.

Today, tired, but still game, we were off to the festival. The parade was more Iowa than Norwegian, but fun. I enjoyed the basset hound puppy across the street more than the parade, and Bryon was treated to several “pupdates” about what the little guy was doing. Yeah, cute, is an Achilles heel.

Lunch? Another helping of Rommegrot (help me, oh gym!) and some varme-polse (sausage in lefse). Sure, not the best, but it was what was available where the festival lines were shortest.

After touring arts and crafts with Matt and Steph, Bryon and I went to the bunad fashion show. I took a few notes about the clothing, and was surprised to learn that, much like the Scottish kilt, the bunad hasn’t been around forever, but resulted from a resurgence of Norwegian nationalism in the 19th century. Norwegians are all about the intricate, from rosemaling to embroidery, and some of the work on the bunads displayed was amazing.

A sad thing: the tea shop that the godmothers’ shop in the story was based on, had a fire. They are closed indefinitely. I also didn’t get into the town’s Mexican bakery, upon which I’ve based Perdita’s shop. It was open Friday, but not Saturday, when I planned to go.

One more trip to Decorah ought to do it for the book. I need a dead in winter trip, so I can see some of the natural scenery at that time. I’ll take my ice shoes.

I’ll get back to the book tomorrow. Tonight I’m going to rest my footsies and appreciate my fun day. Added bonus: I have tomorrow to rest up before work.

Gotta say I love research.


Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

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