Behind the Victory Flagpole – Christmas madness

It used to be that this time of the year was when something strange seemed to happen around Camden. No, it was not Christmas sales or such, but something mysterious I call SPS Madness or better known as Stuffed Potato Sausage Madness. It happens in a lot of Scandinavian homes where each mother has the same affliction, as well as their grandmothers and the grandmother’s mother who lived in the old country across the sea. It strikes the Swedes, Norse and Danes alike.

Housewives and relatives argue who has the best recipe. They have playoffs, like sports games, to prove their point. They even have unimaginable ways to stuff the sausage, if made in their own homes. The sausage must be stuffed into a large casing, very long, and then tied off with a string at certain intervals. Some of the more imaginative ways of doing it are to stuff the long casing using a small angel food cake pan turned upside down and using the spout. Others hold the casing onto the end of a meat grinder and force the mixture into the casing. It was heard that one person even used a part of an old cow horn, which harkens back to the days of old in Sweden where horns were used for funnels. What I’d like to know is where do those long casings come from and what kind of an animal would have guts that long?

So, all the housewives with know-how are making the concoction in the weeks before Christmas right in their own homes. However, other housewives who are slightly cooking¬≠-challenged have a different take on this. What is happening is a mass evacuation from the Camden area to South Minneapolis and to Northeast Minneapolis, where two of the best potato sausage businesses are located. One is called Ingebretsen’s and the other is called Ready Meats.

It has been said that when you drive from Camden to South Minneapolis it seemed like half of Minneapolis had the same idea, and that was to gather at Ingebretsen’s, stand in a long line and greet all your friends who are there for the same purpose of purchasing stuffed potato sausage. Ingebretsen’s has been at its current location, 1601 East Lake Street, since 1921. Its founder, Charles Ingebretsen was a Norwegian immigrant. The store was first called The Model Market selling lingenberries, salt fish, Norwegian and Swedish cheeses, imported canned goods and gifts. But Ingebretsen’s is not just a meat market and gift shop; it’s a legendary outpost of Scandinavian cuisine, crafts and culture. Most people who work there are pretty much Scandinavian–people go in for the ambiance. It’s like a Scandinavian-American community center.

The other market, much closer to Camden and very popular, is called Ready Meats. It is located on Johnson Street in Northeast Minneapolis. At one time there really were men with the last name of Ready in the business. They, along with several other men, owned the business. Christmas too, is their big sausage season. Ready Meats sells two thousand pounds–that’s a whole ton–of sausage in the weeks before Christmas. “We sell about a hundred pounds of it in a normal week,” said one of the owners.

 

Making any sausage is a slippery proposition, as the beef casings are tough and slimy to work with, especially if beginners are a little squeamish. But don’t let that bother you. If your ancestors could do it, you can too. And just think how delighted your family will be, to be served such a delicacy as Stuffed Potato Sausage.

So whether you buy it at Ingebretsen’s, Ready Meats or any other meat market, or if you make it yourself, it will make your Christmas dinner spectacular and you will be thankful for such a fine tradition!

Note: Taken from the book Stories from the Swedish Twin Cities by Anne Gillespie Lewis.