CEvery state, city or town has an identity. These characteristics are often mythical in origin and accentuated today for reasons of pride, business, or history. For instance, if we say Alaska, Nevada, or Florida an image immediately comes to mind. What about Las Vegas, or San Francisco, or New York? The same association of name and myth is even more accentuated with small towns where the identifying myths, because of scale, may be more closely linked with reality.
-----There have been humans living along the head of this bay for (probably) tens of thousands of years. It is a delightful place, with miles of clam and oyster beds, good fishing, and abundant wildlife in the forests. The first European to settle on this site was Jorgen Eliason, with his sister Rakel and his six-year old son E.J. They had originally settled in Michigan from their home in Fordefjord Norway. Shortly after their arrival in the early 1880's, Ivar B. Moe, his wife and three sons, arrived from Minnesota. They had lived in Paulsbo, Norway. They farmed an area at the head of the bay. The location was reminiscent of Norway and soon many more immigrants arrived from Scandanavia. Norwegian was the language of the community.
1885 - Oldest Building in Town - A Store Started with a Rowboat Full of Groceries, and Later, A Post Office
-----By 1886, there were enough people living in the area that Ivar Moe decided they needed their own post office. He made application and called the town Paulsbo, after his hometown in Norway. Unfortunately, his handwriting was not clear, and the post office representative thought he had written Poulsbo, and so it was and is named.
The Norwegian Heritage of Poulsbo
-----One of the largest codfishing plants in the Pacific Northwest was constructed here and served fisherman who brought their catch to Poulsbo from the Bering Sea for salting. The local Norwegian people made lutefisk from the cod, and they still do during their annual Viking Fest in October. Lutefisk is prepared with cod soaked in lye for five or six days. Each day the water and lye is changed. Then, for an additional two days, the swollen fish are soaked in an (unchanged) cold water and lye mixture. The protein level is reduced by half, and the remnants of fish have a jelly-like texture. To make this mess (sorta) edible they soak it in water, changed every day for another 5 or 6 days. Then you cook the salted residue in a pan, with a tight lid, steaming it under very low heat for 20 minutes or so, or it can be baked for 50 minutes, with the pan covered by foil, for 40 minutes or so. Clean anything the lutefisk touched immediately after use, as it becomes impossible to remove. It will also destroy anything silver on contact. Some claim the same thing happens to the human stomach. It is said that, "eating a little is like vomiting a little - just as bad as a lot." We have eaten lutefisk in Norway and it is just as bad as the lutefisk we ate in Sweden, and somewhat worse than the lutefisk prepared by our Swedish exchange student daughter. We didn't touch the stuff in Poulsbo, but if you care to try, it is there.
-----Steamboats connected Poulsbo with Seattle for over 60 years, carrying passengers and goods.There is still a close association with the sea, as the town has three marinas.
-----Now, after all that talk about lutefisk, let's see some other alternatives in this town with a Scandanavian heritage:
A Town of Chocolate, Mor Mor (Mother's Mother) Bistro, and the Korner Kafe
-----There is another 'tradition' in this town - a bakery that has been here for generations. We heard about this 'must see' days before arriving and so we went to see.
One of Each, Please - Er, Make it Two of Those Ginger Bread Men, Tusen Takk
-----Kranskake ( Krans [Circle] Kake [cake]) is a very special cake to Norwegians and there was one in the window of Sluy's Bakery. Built of rings, representing the passage of years and the never-ending character of friendship. It is festooned with rings of frosting that represents the ties that bind family and friends. The trimmings are happy times shared. Kranskake is never cut. It is always broken by the hands, symbolizing the breaking of bread for dear ones. It should always be served on a silver platter in one-inch sections.
-----The Norwegian skill of farming on glacial soil continues in the New World. There is a Farmer's Market each Saturday, complete with music. There is also a fine Marina Market with good Norwegian foods, plenty of chocolate, marine supplies, and a smiling face.
-----We enjoy towns that take civic pride as a serious undertaking, and it is obvious that the citizens and elected town officials of Poulsbo expend considerable effort to have a beautiful and interesting town. We have noticed in our travels through Scandanavia that the 'Vikings' love to beautify their towns and homes with flowers. The Norwegian descendants of Poulsbo have maintained that passion.
-----Another indication of an interesting town to visit, for us, is the presence of craft shops. Local artisans add a great dimension to a town and they afford an understanding of the culture. Not only does Poulsbo have craft stores, but they have a cooperative of artists and their Verksted Gallery is staffed by volunteers from the artist pool. We found some outstanding gifts to give to family and friends at the cooperative.
The Verksted Gallery and Two of the Artists
-----The town also has two good bookstores. We were looking for two books. Each bookstore had one and we have our rainy day reading material now. The town has many special touches that make it a special place to visit.
The Senior Lounge, A Bookstore, and a Waterfront Pub and Cafe
-----After a memorable day ashore exploring the town we shared laughs, tales, and sundowners on the anchor outside the harbor. It was a great day in Poulsbo.
Farvel, Ha Det
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