Kitchens of the Great Midwest- J. Ryan Stradal
Updated: Jan 6, 2019
After the last action packed and brutal book I read which was excellent by the way, I needed a nice warming book to bring me back down to my happy place. I went with a lovely looking book called ‘Kitchens of the Great Midwest’. I actually liked the title of this book so much that I brought it all the way from the U.K to the U.S with me, that’s how lovely it sounded. Big shout out to the wonderful Nadine, who gave me this book months and months ago! I Finally got around to reading it Nadine!
Kitchens of the Great Midwest was a bestseller debut from a new talent named J. Ryan Stradal, published in 2015, it was an instant hit. It tells the story of a father who is a chef, named Lars Thorvald, he is based in Minnesota in the Midwest as you can guess from the title of the book. Unfortunately his wife Cynthia, a wine lover, falls in love with an attractive sommelier and leaves Lars to raise their baby Eva all on his own. Lars being a devoted father, and chef, is determined to pass on his love for food onto his little girl, starting her off on some pretty epic baby food like pureed pork shoulder, as you do. Eva grows beautifully and takes on her father’s passion for food. For example, her native Scandinavian lutefisk, and even grows her own habanero plant in her room. Each ingredient in her life helps Eva grow into a super star untouchable chef and runs her own exclusive sought after pop-up supper club. She pretty much puts her all in everything that she has been through in her life into these amazing delectable meals.
As you go through each chapter of this book, you soon realize that they are all told from other people’s perspectives. You as the reader, slowly begin put together all the pieces of Eva’s life and difficulties that she has lived through with all the people that have met her at various stages of her life. We watch her grow from an infant with a somewhat difficult upbringing to a world renowned bad ass chef. When I picked this book up I was expecting it to be more of a happy-go-lucky food and family kind of book, but actually it has a lot more depth than what it leads on from the cover. I really wasn’t expecting the book to go in the direction that it did, it is rich, realistic and quite believable. Eva did not have an easy life, that much is true, but the fact that food can shape her future in such an amazing way is pretty damn awesome. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, but it is definitely worth reading. The book had quite a few twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting and was also blunt, but in a real good way. I enjoyed that aspect of the book a lot.
I know nothing about the Midwest but after reading this, it did make me a little curious about the area and food culture. I loved reading about all the various recipes in this book too. I truly believe that food can do amazing things like heal and bring people together, which is what the spirit of the book was to me. I’m a big foodie gal so any books to do with good eats are an instant hit for me. If your into food too definitely give this book a go, also if your from the Midwest I’d love to know if this book is true to the area. :) It was also such an easy read too, I flew right by these pages, J. Ryan Stradal has an excellent writing style and understands his readers well. Personally, I’m not a fan of like a million characters in books, but I did like that we were learning about Eva through the many various people that she has met in her life. I didn’t super love the book, but i did like it. It was what I needed after such a heavy read! Definitely check this warming, bittersweet book out for yourself or for any fellow food lovers.
Genre/Category- Contemporary, Fiction, Coming of Age, Food, Family, 2018 Reads.
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