More than a decade ago — before she launched her award-winning food blog or became a Norwegian food expert— Nevada Berg was a student at the University of Utah and the hostess at Salt Lake City’s Paris Bistro.
The 34-year-old will return to the 1500 East and 1500 South neighborhood Saturday, this time stopping at The King’s English Bookshop to promote her first cookbook, “North Wild Kitchen: Home Cooking From the Heart of Norway.”
“It’s surreal that the book signing is right across the street [from The Paris],” she said. “I feel like I’ve come full circle.”
Berg’s North Wild Kitchen blog — which explores the ingredients and cooking traditions of her adopted home of Norway — was selected Blog of the Year in 2016 by Saveur magazine. “Her photos, stories, and diligence in re-creating family recipes," editors wrote at the time, “is nothing short of transporting.”
Berg also won Saveur’s Editor’s Choice award for Best New Voice.
After the awards ceremony, Berg said a representative from Prestel Publishing approached her about writing the cookbook, which includes more than 80 original recipes and Berg’s photographs of food and country landscapes, something she has become known for on her blog and Instagram feed.
It’s a surprising turn for someone who grew up in Sandy, graduated from the Intermountain Christian School and received her bachelor’s degree in international studies from the U. Berg said she knew little about Norway or its food and culture — her family DNA is a mix of English, German, Dutch and French — until she took part in a study-abroad program in England. There, she met the Norwegian man who would later become her husband.
The couple lived in England, Mozambique and Rome. But, in 2015, after their son was born, they put down roots in Norway, buying an old farm in Numedal. Known as the Medieval Valley of Norway, it has the country’s largest collection of houses and buildings older than 1537.
While touring to promote her cookbook, Berg spoke to The Salt Lake Tribune about combining her passion for food, history and culture, growing up in Utah and becoming a Norwegian food star. Her comments have been edited for space and clarity.
How did a girl from Utah end up being Norwegian food expert? • It’s so funny where life takes you. I never would have imagined that I’d be married to a Norwegian. But I’ve always been interested in other cultures. It’s why I went into international studies. With food, I have to explore and find out more. What is the story behind these dishes? I feel so blessed that the country has embraced me and allowed me to celebrate their culture.
When did you develop your passion for writing, photography and food? • Looking back now, I can see the [Utah] thread. My mother loved to be in the kitchen and loved to cook. When I was young, I used to look through her cookbooks. But it wasn’t until I left the country that I really developed my passion, applying all the things I love — history, photography and food. When I did my study abroad in England, I had to learn to cook for myself. For Thanksgiving, I remember getting all the students together in my apartment, and I cooked a holiday meal.
What are some common misconceptions about Norwegian food? • People assume that it’s very basic, just meat and potatoes or fish and potatoes. But it’s very diverse and fascinating, from chanterelles and wild berries to cheeses. I just don’t think it has been explored enough. It should be ranked with Italian or French food. There are so many lovely food products people don’t know about. That’s why it’s been fun to open people’s eyes and show them that there is so much more to it.
Do you have a favorite recipe in the book? • The one that I think is exciting is beer-battered spruce tips with spruce-tip syrup. Spruce tips are seasonal, available only about two weeks a year in the spring (when the tree produces young shoots). People usually pickle this new growth or make a syrup, which is this beautiful, vibrant maroon color. For the cookbook, I wanted to find something else you could made with the tips, which have a citrusy flavor. People used to eat them to prevent scurvy. Anyway, that’s when I thought you could cook them in a beer batter and dip them in syrup. It’s a cool snack and a fun thing to do with your kids, since they can pick the spruce tips.
Norwegian food with a Utah twist • Utah native Nevada Berg will discuss and sign copies of her cookbook, “North Wild Kitchen: Home Cooking From the Heart of Norway.”
When • Saturday, Oct. 6, 6 p.m.
Where • The King’s English Bookshop, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City
Cost • Event is free, books are $35 each