Pancakes on menu in Sequim resident’s meeting with Iceland president

By Jeff Chew
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM — Longtime Sequim resident Mary Lange is eating pancakes with the president of Iceland today.

Lange, a Sequim resident for more than 30 years and a dental hygienist for Sequim dentist Richard Davies, flew from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to Iceland’s capital of Reykjavik on Thursday.

Tonight, she will join Iceland President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson at the presidential residence for the special meal of traditional Icelandic pancakes.

She was invited through the latest installment of the “Inspired by Iceland” tourism campaign of Iceland’s Ministry of Tourism after she wrote a short note explaining why she wanted to join the president and his first lady, Dorit Moussaieff, for the meal.

The campaign, kicked off by Grimsson’s invitation, was launched following the Eyjafjallajokull volcanic eruption last year in Iceland, which is known for its volcanic activity, geothermal energy and hot mineral pools.

The eruption literally left a cloud of volcanic ash hanging over the country’s tourism industry.

But that did not bother Lange, who has visited Iceland with her husband, Jack, and has the country in her blood.

“My grandmother immigrated to Seattle, Washington from Iceland and one of my fondest childhood memories is of Icelandic pancakes with her in the warmth of her kitchen,” Lange wrote in her letter to Iceland tourism representatives.

“It would be a treat of a lifetime to compare my grandmother’s pancakes with those of the president’s.”

Iceland’s first lady will serve pancakes with cream and sugar, as well as some products from the presidential greenhouse.

About 20 visitors

The evening meal will host about 20 visitors from all over the world, Lange said Tuesday before she left Sequim.

She was joined on the trip by her daughter, Holly, a Seattle attorney.

Lange describes Iceland much like Alaska, but with “fire and ice.”

She called the trip “exciting to me, and also just a bit bizarre.”

Her daughter has worked at the U.S. State Department, stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Iceland, and Lange and her husband visited, hiking the countryside for two weeks together.

“It’s incredibly beautiful, and the geothermal [energy] is so interesting,” she said.

“They pay no power bills, with power by hydro and geothermal.”

The capital’s streets and sidewalks are heated by geothermal energy so they don’t freeze, she said, and there are hot spring pools everywhere.

They will visit the capital and hope to see the northern lights.

Staying in a hotel in the capital with other visitors, she said, “We will all be catching the bus and going to the palace, which is basically the farm,” to visit the president and first lady.

The invitation issued by Iceland’s president was one of many homey opportunities posted by citizens of the country on the “Inspired by Iceland website” at www.inspiredbyiceland.com.

Among other invitations offered were a walk with an Icelandic sheepdog, a session of knitting with Icelandic wool at a woman’s home, hearing Icelandic bedtime stories and bird-watching in Kopavogur, a suburb of Reykjavik.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Jeff Chew can be reached at 360-681-2391 or at jeff.chew@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: November 10. 2011 9:47PM
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