MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Any true Minnesotan with an ounce of Viking blood knows that 16th and Lake Street in Minneapolis is their final stop before the Christmas feast.
For the past 90 years, the south Minneapolis street corner has been anchored by Ingebretsen’s meat market and gift shop.
“Christmas items are lutefisk, pinnekjott, and yulecake: that’s big for Scandinavians,” said Steve Dahl, Ingebretsen’s chief butcher.
Dahl and a dozen other Ingebretsen’s butchers served customers Friday from behind the counter. They served up lutefisk and herring, and kept the customers moving.
“I’ll probably get some lutefisk, maybe a little herring, some potato sausage, and lingonberries,” said Valerie Johnson, who shopped at Ingebretsen’s Friday.
Julie Ingebretsen, whose grandfather opened the store 90 years ago, said Ingebretsen’s has been a holiday destination since it opened.
For Polish descendants, you can’t beat the sights and smells at Kramarczuk’s in northeast.
“I’ve been coming here since I was a kid,” said one longtime customer.
She and others came for traditional holiday favorites.
“We’ve got polish sausage, head cheese, blood and tongue,” the shopper said.
Many will stand in line for over an hour to get their traditional fares.
It all comes together in a richness of seasonal sights, sounds and smells. And Nick Engbloom wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s a family tradition and this is a staple of Minnesota,” he said. “That’s why we come here – it’s the thing at Christmas. We’ve got to go to Kramarczuk’s and get breads, potitsa and all that.”
Whether Pole or Swede, Ukrainian or German, presents under the tree is just a small part of the Christmas celebration. To many, pleasing the palate is the best gift of all.