Kitchens of the Great Midwest – J. Ryan Stradal


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.


Thoughtful. Interesting. Unique. Somewhat poignant?

I enjoyed following Eva’s culinary journey through different lenses, but at times I wondered if her own perspective would’ve enhanced the story further. It was interesting to see how all these different people were affected by her in different ways though. I’m glad we got to see into their lives, as well as get updates on some other characters every now and then. It’s a small world, isn’t it?

I wasn’t happy with everything that happened in this book. By that, I mean that I wish Lars had a bigger presence. I wish we got to see Randy’s perspective. I wish we got a bit MORE information on this elusive chef.

I loved how the final menu represented her journey and her life up to that point. I wonder if she knew who Cindy was ahead of time. I wish we got a bit more from that too, although I understand why J. Ryan Stradal held back.

Overall, an interesting read. It was a refreshing change of pace.

Related Reading

  • A Little Something Different – Sandy Hall
  • One Day – David Nicholls
  • The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt

Rating: 3/5


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