Kitchens of the Great Midwest

  • by J. Ryan Stradal
  • Narrated by Amy Ryan, Michael Stuhlbarg
  • 10 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Kitchens of the Great Midwest, about a young woman with a once-in-a-generation palate who becomes the iconic chef behind the country's most coveted dinner reservation, is the summer's most hotly-anticipated debut.
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.
Each chapter in J. Ryan Stradal's startlingly original debut tells the story of a single dish and character, at once capturing the zeitgeist of the Midwest, the rise of foodie culture, and delving into the ways food creates community and a sense of identity. By turns quirky, hilarious, and vividly sensory, Kitchens of the Great Midwest is an unexpected mother-daughter story about the bittersweet nature of life - its missed opportunities and its joyful surprises. It marks the entry of a brilliant new talent.


Audible Editor Reviews

"[Kitchens of the Great Midwest is] the first novel about the emergence and current state of foodie culture...Fundamentally, [it's] about what happens when opposing personalities coexist...." (Book Forum)


What the Critics Say

"Ryan and Stuhlbarg shine as they use subtle pacing and tone to portray the unique personalities of each character, adding just the slightest hints of a Midwestern accent to give authenticity and differentiation. Stradal's skillful writing delivered by accomplished narrators offers listeners a debut performance to savor." (AudioFile)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

unevenly cooked!

I wanted to love this whole book as much as I loved the beginning chapters. But not all of the chapters, each one being a microcosm of the heroine's life at some stage, were interesting. I still give it 3 stars. The beginning, with poor smelly lutefisk king Lars, whose social awkwardness encourages a love affair with food, was inspired and hilarious. Lars is excited to plan meals for his baby Eva and introduce her to his favorites, like pork shoulder, from Day One. The baby's pediatrician has to dash his hopes. Because, MILK!
Although Eva is orphaned as a baby, she grows up with her father's love of good food and his talent in the kitchen (not the only bit of magical realism in the book), and she goes on to become a famous chef. Chapters include mouth-watering descriptions of dishes and meals served, for lovers of food porn, and also some recipes. I just wish the editor had leaned a little harder on this new author; I think this book could have been fantastic. But it just misses.
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- joyce "Greedy, voracious reader since age five. After a number of eye injuries & surgeries, reading is hard. So now, I listen."

Ultimately dissappointing

Something was missing in this book, which is really a disconnected series of short stories "starring" Eva Torgesson. Although she is the central character, I never felt any emotional connection to her. She became more distant, rather than more deeply developed, with each chapter/ story. The narrators were only ok. Overall, very dissappointing.
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- Ruth Bain "RueRue"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-28-2015
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio