In Cod We Trust: Living the Norwegian Dream

Overview

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 ...

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In Cod We Trust: Living the Norwegian Dream

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816656240
  • Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2011
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 629,055
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet 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.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 24, 2010

    Once I picked it up I couldn't put it down.

    A Christmas gift from my daughter, it sat collecting dust until a camping trip in July. Then, I only stopped reading it long enough to relate one story after another to my poor wife, who was trying to read her own book. An eye opener for anyone with Norweigian blood, a must read for anyone planning a trip to the "old country", and a fun time for almost everyone.

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  • Posted July 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Norwegian Levity!

    As a Norwegian-American, I looked forward to reading this book, which was recommended to me by a cousin. I was not disappointed! I re-read it almost immediately, and bought three more copies to give to friends. I found it informative, humorous, and filled with detail about modern life in Norway.

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