I am Danish and Norwegian on both sides of my family, and being Scandinavian, I do have those Viking like tendencies to “head for the castle” and do it well. Guess there is one thing genetic mutations cannot touch, and it is being a Valkyrie. Ballard was settled mostly by Swedes and Norwegians, but that doesn’t mean a Dane cannot take on the neighborhood. Because what happens in Ballard does stay in Ballard if you know what I mean (or is that Fremont during the Summer Solstice Parade?). For one day this weekend I decided to conquer the neighborhood and I may have checked in with my ancestors along the way.
Nordic Heritage Museum is where I first stopped to check in with the ancestors. Nordic Heritage Museum is the only museum in the US that represents the cultural heritage of all five Nordic countries: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, and Finland. Best part of going was timing it with free admission day (First Thursday of the month is free admission to museums in Seattle area)! *smile.* Learning about what made my great-grandfather emigrate to America and what he had to go through to get to here. I did see a trunk similar to the one my great-grandfather used when he came from Denmark back in 1910. I could feel going through the exhibit of Journey to America a complete understanding of the struggles to a new life in America was like. Scandinavians coming from Europe had similar struggles as the Irish immigrants did. Some of the reasons to leave the mother land was lack of opportunities for majority of the population and political unrest in certain regions.
What does Laura Ingalls Wilder and Scandinavian immigrants heading west have in common? The Homestead Act. Majority of the places in her books had a lot of Scandinavian immigrants passing through. Eventually families started settling in the area we call Ballard around 1880s. Ballard’s maritime industry and logging was born from the surrounding the area’s natural resources. Does the show Deadliest Catch ring a bell? The fleet docks in Ballard’s Fisherman’s Terminal.
The first floor displayed Dream of America exhibition about immigration to the United States. Second floor was all about how Ballard came to be and the surrounding communities. And the third floor was devoted to each of the five Nordic countries. The fascinating thing I got out of all five was each family had a sewing machine from various brands. I find this observation strangely weird.
Larsen’s Bakery where Danish pastry aficionados stock up on sweet pretzel shaped Kringle and all the baked Scandinavian goodies was where my hungry stomach needed to go. Around Christmas time I make my way down to this bakery for Christmas Kringle in late November early December time. Raspberry or strawberry filling with cream cheese is “uff da”(an expression of sensory overload across all Scandinavian dialects) and I would live on this stuff if it meant never getting fat. On this particular day there were no more Danishes, so I decided to try their Turkey Havarti Croissant for lunch. The picture does not do it any justice because whats inside is a melted cheese with slabs of turkey wrapped in a flaky croissant. I had flakes of pastry all over my lap when I was done with this yummy lunch.
After this yummy lunch I took a stroll down Market street to browse a few shops before heading home. I have always loved Ballard, and I would say this neighborhood has been my favorite place to be. In the past I have gone to the Ballard locks, soaked up sun at Golden Gardens and even caught a movie at the Majestic Bay Theater. I would highly recommend exploring this neighborhood, especially the Nordic Heritage Museum and check out the Farmer’s Market during the summer on Sundays as well.
You can say this Dane did get in touch with her roots, and did find out a lot more about how Ballard became…well Ballard. The only thing this Dane did not do is taste lutefisk jellied in lye and will never do!
*The Nordic Heritage Museum is moving in late 2017 to their new location in Ballard. Please see their website for more details.*