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This year, why not give thanks with 'Thorsgiving'

Published November 25, 2014 12:30 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

If you want a break this year from turkey and mashed potatoes in favor a decidedly Marvel-centric Thanksgiving dinner, here's an idea: Thorsgiving.

Coincidentally, Thanksgiving falls on a Thursday, which is named after the mythical Norse god of thunder. What better way to ward off the frigid late November cold, worthy of the frost giants of Jotunheim, than with a warm feast shared with the truest of kin and comrades. I asked around to discover what delicacies one might find on a Norse table — so feel free to plunder my findings for ideas for your own Thorsgiving meal.

Michael Gruenbaum, a languages and literature professor at the University of Utah, pointed out that varities of fish are a major part of any Scandavian fare, whether present or past. Boiled beef and boiled pork would also be accurate entrees, he said, and he made sure to include beer and mead (alcohol made from honey and water) among his suggestions.

An acquaintence of mine, Viking fan Camilla Whitney, linked me to some delicious-sounding options: green soup, viking bread and the traditional fruit pudding known as kissell. She also suggested several resources for menu ideas: The Viking Food Guy blog; this feast at the Counter Cultural School blog; and a comprehensive list of common viking food by Jennifer Baker, at the Looking for the Evidence blog.

If the cuisine choices seem pretty varied, it's because the Vikings inhabited such a wide range of environments, according to the Viking Food Guy Blog. Iceland, for example, had few trees but plenty of grass for grazing, whereas the fjords-side farms of Norway lacked such open land, the blog points out.

A constant across the viking world, though, was the hard, windy winters — meaning lots of root vegetables that keep well in cool, dry air, according to the blog. Vikings also faced shorter growing seasons, so when you're picking out bread, remember that they would have mostly grown rye and barley, not wheat, the blog adds.

But don't feel too boxed in; it's a holiday, have fun! The Ribe VikingeCenter in Denmark encourages people to adapt dishes, and provides an example of a viking harvest feast to draw inspiration from, including horse bean salad. Whatever menu you choose, make sure it's more reasonable than the four wild boars, six pheasants, a side of beef and two caskets of ale that Volstagg consumed in "Thor." And speaking of the movie, you could also add a specific Marvel movie twist to your feast with a box of Pop-Tarts (perhaps the pumpkin pie-flavored ones) and coffee for dessert. Just don't go smashing your tableware when you want another.

Storytelling was a regular part of viking feasts, too. If you're looking for a Norse tale to tell around the table, you might look to the "Prose Edda," a primary source of Norse mythology. Bear in mind that, like other mythologies, there's a lot of violence and siring. But if that's OK by you, the "Prose Edda" sports tales of Thor fishing for the Midgard Serpent, a creation myth involving a cow licking blocks of ice, the cataclysmic twilight of the gods, and Loki indirectly killing someone with mistletoe. You know, if you want to get a start on that Christmas spirit.

Have a happy Thorsgiving!

— Michael McFall

Twitter: @mikeypanda






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