Kitchens of the Great Midwest

Kitchens of the Great Midwest

A Novel

Large Print - 2015
Average Rating:
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When Lars Thorvald's wife, Cynthia, falls in love with wine -- and a dashing sommelier -- he's left to raise their baby, Eva, on his own. He's determined to pass on his love of food to his daughter -- starting with puréed pork shoulder. As Eva grows, she finds her solace and salvation in the flavors of her native Minnesota. From Scandinavian lutefisk to hydroponic chocolate habaneros, each ingredient represents one part of Eva's journey as she becomes the star chef behind a legendary and secretive pop-up supper club, culminating in an opulent and emotional feast that's a testament to her spirit and resilience. Each chapter in J. Ryan Stradal's debut tells the story of a single dish and character, at once capturing the zeitgeist of the Midwest, the rise of foodie culture, and delving into the ways food creates community and a sense of identity. Kitchens of the Great Midwest is also an unexpected mother-daughter story about the bittersweet nature of life -- its missed opportunities and its joyful surprises.
Publisher: Thorndike, Maine : Center Point Large Print, 2015
Edition: Center Point Large Print Edition
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9781628996753
1628996757
Characteristics: large print,rda
446 pages (large print) ; 23 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

Read and recommended by Beth.

You don’t need to be a gourmet to enjoy this novel of Eva Thovald's journey from infant to famous chef of an exclusive peripatetic supper club. Set in the Midwest, Eva's story is told by different characters, each focused on a particular stage of her growth and highlighting a specific food. My fa... Read More »

“This novel is quirky and colorful. The story revolves around chef Eva Thorvald and the people who influence her life and her cooking. With well-drawn characters and mouthwatering descriptions of meals, Kitchens of the Great Midwest will appeal to readers who like vivid storytelling. Foodies will... Read More »


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t
tjdickey
Aug 07, 2017

A lighter read, but one with complex overtones and a strong aftertaste. "Kitchens of the Great Midwest" takes a person through an extraordinary life interacting with great food and wine. The characters are drawn simply, but with a lot of wit; each chapter offers a vignette of food and American foodie/ locovore culture, including great recipes!

n
norma777
Mar 12, 2017

Perfect book club choice. Sweet and interesting story lines about a young girl in MN who fulfills her destiny to becomes a fantastic chef. All you need to know about lutefisk. Recipes included.

c
ctkvlk
Mar 08, 2017

Although I'm not generally a big novel fan, I read this one because of the foodie aspect. Interesting--good, not great, but not bad.

j
Jersey_Girl
Aug 24, 2016

At about 1/3 through this book, I almost stopped reading it. And then Shazam! All of a sudden it started coming together and I couldn't wait to finish it. One commenter wondered if this was supposed to be a Young Adult book, I don't know, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone not 18 or older. In the beginning, it did jump around with the characters. VERY confusing! But then, as I said about 1/3 to 1/2 way through the book, the author began to tie things together. Anyway, I enjoyed it, but I can understand if other people didn't enjoy it.

j
jannylegs
Jul 13, 2016

Nailed it.

a
Amkalee40
Feb 29, 2016

Although I haven't read the book in it's entirety yet, it's fun to be able to relate to the MN locations mentioned throughout. There are also recipes in there that I might be curious enough to try when I get further along! Definitely recommend this read if you have any Scandinavian heritage in your background--you'll be able to relate and find yourself chuckling or nodding your head at times without even realizing it. A good fiction book to choose if you're looking to get out of a "reading rut."

m
mitchellered
Feb 25, 2016

I felt like I had a different book than everyone else. Was this supposed to be a young adult novel? The plot is so messy and sudden. One page you meet a character, and the next page the character is violently killed and completely forgotten. Just silly plot turns too, for instance, one character smokes pot once and suddenly her whole life is destroyed. Not to mention all of the characters are so unlikable and stereo-typically trashy. This novel makes everyone from the Midwest seem like a drunken, bitter, hillbilly- which is NOT the case. The only insight we get on the main character Eva and how she thinks is from one chapter when she was 11 years old. Past that, it's difficult to tell what her story REALLY is all about. The language is just crass for no reason. Rather than using his words, the author uses expletives. Several characters are just so dumbly described as "cool" or "mean" so the development just goes nowhere. As a food fan, I was excited to pick up this book (the cover is adorable) but I had a lot of trouble finishing this. It's unfortunate because it had a lot of prospect but the book just did not come together.

PimaLib_JessicaP Feb 22, 2016

This is such a great book! And listening to it is definitely the way to go.

Narrated by alternating voices, Kitchens starts us out with the tale of Lars, a cook with a palate that unfortunately can't save his marriage. But he passes it down to his daughter, who, as we see her in different stages of life, develops more and more skill with food and flavors.

The supporting characters help give the book its charm, as we don't always get to see Eva from her point of view. But the food--itself a supporting, if not secondary leading, character--always sounds wonderful, so don't listen hungry. Or if you do, be prepared to try out some of the recipes you'll come across.

Sure, it's kind of strange. But that's what makes it so great.

m
MeWilliam
Jan 10, 2016

A little dubious as I read it, but the last chapter, wow.

e
epelto12
Oct 30, 2015

I wish I had more stars to give.

I read "Kitchens of the Great Midwest" over a month ago, and I’m still having a hard time coming up with how to describe it and how it made me feel. This book was breathtaking. Perhaps more so since I was born and raised and still live in the midwest, where food is such an important part of life and family traditions. However, I believe that all readers can relate to this unforgettable story. If there’s one thing you take from my review, know that what I write could never do this book justice.

Each chapter of the book is the name of a dish that presents itself in the story, which follows the life of Eva Thorvald from before birth to adulthood. What makes the story unique is that it is told from different perspectives — her dad, mom, a crush in school, her cousin, and more — all get to tell their stories about Eva (some direct, some she just appears in) through their eyes. Through her life, she faces so many of life’s cruelest challenges to achieve her lifelong goal of becoming a chef.

"Kitchens of the Great Midwest" is easily my favorite book of the year. It was heartbreaking, breathtaking, and written so well that I never wanted it to end.

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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m
maggielo
Aug 23, 2016

Each chapter in J. Ryan Stradal's startlingly original debut tells the story of a single dish and character, at once capturing the zeitgeist of the Midwest, the rise of foodie culture, and delving into the ways food creates community and a sense of identity. By turns quirky, hilarious, and vividly sensory, Kitchens of the Great Midwest is an unexpected mother-daughter story about the bittersweet nature of life--its missed opportunities and its joyful surprises. It marks the entry of a brilliant new talent.

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