It’s been called “the most unique attraction” at the annual Seafoodfest and, for those who can stomach watching it, it definitely is worth it. This traditional Nordic dish takes dried cod and soaks it in a lye solution for several days, it is often called “Lye Fish” for this reason. It is usually baked after and often has the consistency of Jello – and a very pungent odor.
“Those of you who are having Lutefisk for the first time now know why the Vikings were so mean!” joked the announcer for the competition as the men were getting settled into their seats. There were ten men that volunteered for the eating contest, one also signed up for the hot dog eating contest later in the day as well. Among the men were many from Ballard, one was aneighbor from Phinney Ridge, a reporter from the Ballard News Tribune, Zach, and even a man from Paulsboro Poulsbo, Wash. who consumed seven pounds of Lutefisk at another eating competition.
There was also one man from Colorado who said that he had seen the sign the day before and decided to come down and sign up; he works at a Norwegian restaurant and was used to eating the grub. He said that he loved Lutefisk and was excited to get started – the crowd groaned at the thought.
The men were served a half-pound of this delicacy every round. The Lutefisk was so fresh that before each round the men had to use their fingers to churn it up and cool it off before they could feast on it. The fish was donated by Scandinavian Specialties and cooked by the Ballard Landmark cooking staff.
The competition went in rounds that narrowed the men down, starting with ten then down to seven then to three and a final match with two of them competing for first place. First place received $250, second place got $150 and third was awarded $100.
The winner was a Ballardite, named David Johnson, who said this was his eighth time competing. He had won previously but had not been able to compete in recent years since he was away fishing. He grew up in town and said he was happy to be back and win today.