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Eric Dregni—In Cod We Trust: Living the Norwegian Dream

On Friday, December 16 at 7pm Eat My Words is pleased to host Eric Dregni for a reading and discussion of his cross-cultural memoir, IN COD WE TRUST: LIVING THE NORWEGIAN DREAM. The event will feature a slideshow presentation, and the author is generously providing samples of smoked herring and aquavit for audience members to enjoy.

About the Book:

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.

About the Author:

Fed pickled herring and gjetost brown cheese as a toddler, Eric Dregni grew up in Norway’s colony in America: Minnesota. As the recipient of a 2004 Fulbright Fellowship in Creative Writing, Dregni lived in Trondheim, Norway where he survived a dinner of rakfisk (fermented fish) thanks to 80-proof aquavit, took the “meat bus” to Sweden for cheap salami with a busload of knitting pensioners, and discovered his great-grandfather’s house in the Lusterfjord only to find out it had been crushed by a boulder then swept away by a river.

Dregni has written about odd landmarks and unusual attractions across the Midwest, such as the Talking Paul Bunyan, the Outhouse Museum of South Dakota, and the World’s Largest Six-Pack in La Crosse, Wisconsin. He lived in Italy for five years where he worked as a travel journalist for a weekly paper and compiled his essays into a book in Italian, Grazie a Dio non Sono Bolognese. While in Italy, he discovered the origins of and obsessions with Vespas, Lambrettas, and other motorscooters and wrote and shot photos for five books on these odd, but stylish, little two-stroke machines. During the summer months, he is the dean of the Italian Concordia Language Village, Lago del Bosco.

He is a freelance writer for Metro, The Norwegian-American Weekly, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune and author of thirteen books, including Minnesota Marvels: Roadside Attractions in the Land of Lakes, The Scooter Bible, The Follies of Science, Weird Minnesota, and Let’s Go Bowling!

Currently, Dregni is an assistant professor of English and Journalism at Concordia University in St. Paul. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two kids, Eilif and Otto.