Author and “Lefse King” Gary Legwold is teaching the secrets to perfect lefse at his Lynnhurst neighborhood kitchen.
“The interaction between the grill and the lefse is art,” he told a recent cooking class as he draped lefse onto a 500-degree grill.
Legwold, a former Wayzata High School teacher, went on to pursue a writing career that includes 800 magazine articles on health and fitness. In the early ’90s, he wrote an article for Minnesota Monthly that detailed his “first hilarious, painful” experience making lefse. The topic sparked his interest, and he traveled to small towns throughout Minnesota meeting the best lefse makers he could find.
He wrote his first book on lefse in 1992, worrying that the tradition was dying. He decided to survey the country 25 years later to see how lefse was faring.
“The bottom line is lefse is doing better than ever,” he said, explaining that factories have difficulty keeping up with demand during the holidays.
His new book “Keep On Rolling! Life on the Lefse Trail and Learning to Get a Round” includes lefse wrap recipes, an original song, and visits to factories and festivals. (He reports that Oregon’s Portlandia has also become Lefselandia.) He visits a congregation in Sacred Heart, Minnesota that rolls more than 4,000 lefse rounds each year and is working to rebuild the church, which was struck by lightning two years ago.
Legwold has also written two books about lutefisk. As conversation topics, lutefisk and lefse tend to light up reserved Scandinavians, he said.
“Our culture kind of needs that boost,” he said. “Winter can be bleak, but it’s never bleak when you’re rolling lefse.”
For more information, visit lefseking.com.