Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J Ryan Stradal

What is it: Book, 90 percent fiction, 10 percent cookbook

Title: Kitchens of the Great Midwest

Author: J Ryan Stradal

Year published: 2015

Who would like it: Anyone who eats food. Anyone who comes from the Midwest USA. Anyone who likes to read about a lady whose trajectory to greatness is straight and true to herself.

Why you should read it: Two things are front and center in this book: the love of good food and the quirks of backwoods midwest America. Stradal uses food to give us a window into the lives of the book’s many characters, all of whom are connected by one woman – Eva. This is one of the first books I’ve read that accurately depict the beauty and the weirdness I know as home.

Don’t read if: You’re a true-to-heart food snob that shudders at the idea of Midwestern comfort food.

My favorite part: When Pat Prager enters her bars, which have won a whole host of county fairs, into a cooking contest in the city, she offends a whole host of horrified hipsters with her old-fashioned and simple recipe (made primarily of butter and Graham cracker crumbs).

A great quote: “‘Where did you source your ingredients from?’ one of them asked. ‘Are they local?’ ‘Yeah,’ Pat said, ‘they’re from the store about a mile from my house.’ One of the girls behind the table laughed. ‘Sorry,’ she said.”

Another great quote: “They were generous in the way of people running a garage sale who give things away to the folks who come at the end.”


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