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Wisconsin Lefse, a Norwegian flat bread in America

by Leigh P.

Every day at about 3:00 pm, American school children run from the bus straight to the kitchen for a snack. They often grab cold pizza, a sandwich, cookies, chips, or maybe an apple, or some pudding. In Wisconsin, they might reach for the lefse.

Lefse is a Norwegian flat bread that looks much like a large tortilla but is made with potatoes. The recipe came to Wisconsin with the large surge of Norwegian immigrants in the 1800s. As they fled from their own potato famine and harsh farming environment, most Norwegian immigrants sought the fertile farmland of Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Dakota territory.

Lefse is traditionally made paper thin, requiring special tools because of its lack of depth and abundance of girth: an over-sized griddle for cooking and a flat, wooden “turning” stick for maneuvering. However, it can be made with varying thickness, as well. Ingredients include boiled riced potatoes, flour, butter, sugar and perhaps some cream.

The most common way that lefse is eaten is as a simple butter and sugar roll-up. Some prefer cinnamon and sugar or peanut butter. Others wrap their hotdogs or brats in it, or make a burrito of sorts with whatever is on the supper table that night; be it turkey and gravy or BBQ. However it’s served, as those around the table become full, they sit back, take a deep breath and moan “uff da,” the Norwegian version of the expression, “oy vey.”

Many Wisconsinites have fond memories of making lefse in the kitchen with grandma, but the bread is commonly sold in stores and bakeries, as well. Today the delicacy can even be purchased online and shipped. You betcha!

Note from TravelFoodandDrink.com:  Since 1965  authentic potato lefse, has been hand-rolled, with real potatoes, and no shortcuts at Countryside Lefse in Blair, Wisconsin.  Visit their website at  https://www.lefse.com to watch a video of lefse being made or to order this traditional regional specialty.

Warm lefse with brown sugar and butter