Let me start by saying this is one of the best books I’ve read this year. It has everything; great characters, terrific setting, a creative premise and mouthwatering meals.
Cynthia and Lars have a baby, she freaks out, has an affair with a sommelier at the restaurant where she works and they run off together. Lars brings up Eva by himself, with the help of some friends.
Eva is an unusual child; really a savant, and her gift is her palate. She will try anything, and as a child grows her own chilies, selling them to neighborhood restaurants. She grows up to become a celebrity chef extraordinaire, opening a pop up restaurant that moves around the country from one spectacular location to another. Foodies pay thousands of dollars for one her meals, and wait years to get an invite.
Eva’s journey is documented chapter by chapter, each focusing on a different dish and a different character, from lutefisk to cookie bars. Eventually all the strings are tied together, in a memorable meal.
This is a story about fathers and daughters, mothers and daughters, and community. It’s always about the Midwest and the foodie culture that has pervaded America. There are a lot of laughs, poignant moments that brought me to tears, and everything in between. The prose is beautiful, almost poetic at times, but it is the characters that completely stole my heart.
It is a book that begs to be read slowly and savored, and book that craves to be discussed. Don’t miss it.
7/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
KITCHENS OF THE GREAT MIDWEST by J. Ryan Stradal. Pamela Dorman Books (July 28, 2015). ISBN 978-0525429142. 320p.