Food sometimes looks so mouth-wateringly beautiful that we can’t resist sharing it on Instagram or Facebook. Other times…beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Especially food that we’ve grown up with, and had family gatherings around. Maybe it’s the appearance, or it’s stinky, or just strikes us as weird, but sometimes food can inspire enthusiasm in us that the uninitiated just don’t understand.
This is Kumla, also known as Klube
…a humble potato dumpling that is very dense on the inside, with a wallpaper paste consistency coating on the outside. Both of my grandmothers were Norwegian, and that is the origin of this treat. My siblings and cousins referred the them as krub, or gunk balls, and growing up it was a challenge to see who could eat the most. Today my dad still emails photos of the greyish dumplings to fellow Kumla aficionados whenever he cooks up a batch.
There are no unusual ingredients in Kumla (potatoes, flour, baking powder and salt, boiled in a pork broth), and it doesn’t have a strong taste. It just isn’t pretty. I think it was an economical meal way back in the day, and I’m not sure if it is even common in modern Norway, or if it is viewed there as a treat.
Below it looks more appetizing fried in butter the next day for breakfast. I like to eat it with butter, pepper and syrup. This is the prime example I have of my “Norwegianness”, as my ancestors settled in North America generations ago.
Ugly Food That We Love on the Road
Our daughter lived in Korea for two years, and like Anthony Bourdain, will try almost any food once. She said the VERY fresh octopus dish in the video clip below is actually tasty, with a sesame dressing. But beware–occasionally the still-suctioning tentacles stick to the throat of a diner, making it the last meal for both of them.
For most people, food is a primary way of enjoying and passing down our ethnic traditions. It is also a great window into other cultures, especially when we’re traveling. But it’s sometimes harder to appreciate local delicacies that are unusual to us, especially when they don’t look or smell very appealing.
While my family might get excited over Kumla, for others it might be an especially stinky cheese, or in the Philippines balut, or even fruit such as Dorian. A few years ago most Westerners were too squeamish to eat sushi, but now it seems as popular as pizza or burgers. Who knows…if we are adventurous enough to sample local delicacies, one might become a new favorite.