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Book Review: Kitchens of the Great Midwest

It seemed to me that this book has been chasing me around for the past 2 years. I kept seeing it on all the blogs, bookshelves and lists for great reads but for some reason, I never added it to my reading list .

Today I wanted to tell you how happy I am that I finally picked it up... My local library has a limited choice of audio books but I was between my audible credits so I grabbed it off the shelf and before I knew it, I was laughing out loud as I listened to it on my way to work. The first chapter is about a father trying to feed his daughter pureed pork shoulder. He literally has no idea what he's doing and it was funny, endearing and so engaging.

I just finished it today. I find a really great joy in immersing myself in the novels I read, and that is especially easy to do when they give recipes as part of the story. I absolutely love that  opportunity to really experience whatever it is that that character themselves get to experience. This morning is a Saturday so since I wasn't going to be driving to work and able to listen to it in my car, I dusted off an old c.d. player I found in the basement and continued listening. I brought it into the kitchen and baked the peanut bar recipe that appears in the book. Pat Prager, I hope I made you proud. The recipe was simple and easy to make. In the story, it had one several blue ribbons in county fairs, beating out several other church going wives who dream of taking home the blue ribbon for themselves.

The book starts with Lars Thorvald and is centered around the life of his daughter, Eva. When Eva was just a baby, her mother Cynthia leaves them  both behind to chase her dreams of becoming a sommelier in California. She never wanted to be a mother and once she left, she never looked back. What happens next sets the ball rolling on the rest of the story- how Eva grows up and how her father's love for food shaped her palate as well. Her unique and powerful taste gives her something to focus on and she finds solace and confidence in food and creating dishes and ingredients that open doors for her in restaurants for her to perfect her craft as a chef.

As she grows up and seeks success, she meets people along the way that have a lasting impact on her life. Those people all introduce Eva to a specific dish or ingredient that leave an impression and you get to know those people in the chapters, so there are several stories all intertwined that are all unique but very special. 

Towards the end of the book, I began to realize how all of these experiences and people were going to connect and how they all threaded together. All the ingredients of Eva's life were finally coming together. It was magical. 

The food, the details, the funny stories, the quirky characters, this story was served just as Eva would serve one of her famous dinners: course by course, with each chapter giving a unique experience that compliments the next course. 

It was truly a treat and one that I will definitely recommend to others! 


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