Synopses & Reviews
Eric Dregni’s great-grandfather Ellef fled Norway in 1893 when it was the poorest country in Europe. More than one hundred years later, his great-grandson traveled back to find that—mostly due to oil and natural gas discoveries—it is now the richest. The circumstances of his return were serendipitous, as the notice that Dregni won a Fulbright Fellowship to go there arrived the same week as the knowledge that his wife Katy was pregnant. Braving a birth abroad and benefiting from a remarkably generous health care system, the Dregnis’ family came full circle when their son Eilif was born in Norway.
In this cross-cultural memoir, Dregni tells the hair-raising, hilarious, and sometimes poignant stories of his family’s yearlong Norwegian experiment. Among the exploits he details are staying warm in a remote grass-roofed hytte (hut), surviving a dinner of rakfisk (fermented fish) thanks to 80-proof aquavit, and identifying his great-grandfather’s house in the Lusterfjord only to find out it had been crushed by a boulder and then swept away by a river. To subsist on a student stipend, he rides the meat bus to Sweden for cheap salami with a busload of knitting pensioners. A week later, he and his wife travel to the Lofoten Islands and gnaw on klippefisk (dried cod) while cats follow them through the streets.
Dregni’s Scandinavian roots do little to prepare him and his family for the year in Trondheim eating herring cakes, obeying the conformist Janteloven (Jante’s law), and enduring the mørketid (dark time). In Cod We Trust is one Minnesota family’s spirited excursion into Scandinavian life. The land of the midnight sun is far stranger than they previously thought, and their encounters show that there is much we can learn from its unique and surprising culture.
"Eric Dregni's spirited travel memoir to Norway joins that classic American genre—the quest tale in search of family and ethnic roots. It's a special pleasure to see the Scandinavian immigration story teased out here with wit and acuity, the immigrant going the other way. In Cod We Trust is the story of a man not only looking for his family past but welcoming the next generation."—Patricia Hampl
"A hilariously fun and moving read for anyone who has dreamed of returning to the Norwegian homeland."—Walter Mondale
"Eric Dregni's deceptively delightful In Cod We Trust combines understated humor and serious scholarship. Readers will finish this book smiling, realizing they've been taught much about Norway's past and present—including its model health care system—while being entertained by a colicky baby testing his parents' patience. Part travelogue, part examination of how the immigrant experience affects generations on both sides of the Atlantic, Dregni's self-effacing Scandinavian style is a welcome treat."—Arvonne Fraser
"Dregnis writing is light-hearted and fast-paced. Rather than looking beyond stereotypes, he highlights them for comic effect, often with great success. If youre looking for a witty account of the cultural differences between Norway and the United States, look no further." www.norway.org
"Dregni's charming read will resonate with anyone who has dreamed of tracing their ancestry." Minneapolis Star Tribune
A vivid portrayal of modern Norway through the eyes of a fourth-generation Norwegian American from Minnesota
About the Author
Eric Dregni lives in Minneapolis, is dean of the Italian Concordia Language Village, and is assistant professor of English and journalism at Concordia University. He is the author of sixteen books, including four other titles from the University of Minnesota Press: Vikings in the Attic, Never Trust a Thin Cook and Other Lessons from Italy’s Culinary Capital, Midwest Marvels, and Minnesota Marvels.