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.”