Onsrud Folklore, Recipes and Etiquette
Meaning of Onsrud
Some say that the entire LaCrosse Coulee Region was named after our family. In Norway, the prefix Ons means Odin or god. For example, Wednesday is Onsdag or Odin's day. The suffix rud is very common and refers to settlement or region. A straightforward translation of Onsrud into English is therefore "God's Country." We can only assume that the entire region around LaCrosse,which is often referred to as God's Country, was named after our early pioneer family. Of course, some say that the water in the beer comes all the way from Canada but we won't quibble about the legal niceties of either of these claims.
Lena's Rules of Etiquette
(1) Banquet Dishes
At a typical supper in the Westby area each family typically brings a dish to pass and perhaps we should do that for the reunion banquet. For those of you who didn't grow up around Westby, you may not know that the most complimented dishes that get passed around are typically those that resemble the winter surroundings, which is most of the year. That is, the food looks like snow and has about as much taste (i.e. fish, meatballs in white sauce, lefse, rommegrot, flatbread, strull, rosettes, etc.). You won't find any hot peppers or curry called for in these dishes. Try any of the recipes at Westby Norwegian Recipes and if it comes out a yellowish/whitish/brownish shade of snow and tastes bland, you have probably made it correctly. Ya, et sure is gute!!
Our favorite way of seasoning is to let something sit on the back porch for a couple of weeks before we eat it. See recipe for lutefisk.
(2) Exception to the Snow Rule
If you want to go crazy with color, jello is the exception! We Norwegian Americans love our jello. It still tastes bland but the color adds excitement to our lives. However, even here there are basic rules to follow.
If you are going to put carrots and shredded cabbage in your jello, you should use green jello so everyone knows its a "salad jello." If you want to put fruit cocktail in your jello, make it red or orange so people know its a "dessert jello." Only at Christmas is it allowable to mix green and red jello and even then it causes lots of confusion unless you dollop some whipped cream on top to indicate its a dessert. We avoid use of dollops of mayonaisse on our jello around Christmas since that's only used with salad jellos and can be confused with whipped cream.
A few years back one of the Onsrud boys stopped at Borgen's Cafe when he was passing through town with his new wife from California. She made the mistake of putting some red jello on her plate during her first pass through the smorgasbord line. Every kid in the place started pointing at her and whining that she got to eat her dessert first and so should they. Parents started giving the couple dirty looks so they had to make a hasty get away. Don't let this happen to you!
Ole's Rules of Etiquette
(1) Tavern Ordering
Wesby is a dry town so we have arranged the reunion just outside the town limits. Practice your Norwegian accent before you arrive and say heartily when you approach the bar: "Ya sure. Give me a beer once." No one knows what will happen if you don't add the word "once" at the end but this probably is not something you want to test.