Kitchens of the Great Midwest, J Ryan Stradal
Lars is passionate about food; as a youngster he was something of a loner, and didn’t enjoy a great social life with his peers. As the book opens we are told that Lars only ever loved two women – his wife, Cynthia and baby daughter Eva. When Cynthia discovers that she is pregnant, Lars is delighted and falls deeply for his daughter the first time he sets eyes on her. Cynthia, it appears less of a natural in the parenthood department. She finds spending time with the baby difficult, and can’t wait to get back to work. Whilst Lars plans delightful food for his offspring, Cynthia is desperate to build a career for herself, and very quickly decides to follow her dream whilst away on a training course. She writes to Lars explaining that she isn’t cut out to be a mother, that she feels Eva would be better off with no mother than a bad one, and that she will be going to Australia or New Zealand to pursue her career.
So starts the story of Eva Thorvald. I have to admit as I read the first chapter, I didn’t think it would be a very engaging book – how wrong could be? Each chapter of this cracking little book explores a different stage of Eva’s life. We get to know the people who influence her, those who love her, and some who meet her incidentally along the way.
This is an easy reading book; engaging and in places quite comical. There are lots of references to food – varieties of chilli and tomatoes, being able to show the provenance of your ingredients and occasional recipes thrown in. Definitely a book for food lovers, but equally a good story for those of us less knowledgeable about what constitutes our daily diet.
Each chapter is named for an ingredient, culminating in ‘The Dinner’. Each represents a formative event in Eva’s life, and the part played by food as she develops into a young lady who loves food as much as her father did.
Thanks are due to the publishers, Riverrun (Quercus) for providing a pre-publication copy for review via RealReaders.