Kitchens of the Great Midwest

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Kitchens of the Great Midwest
320 pages; Pamela Dorman Books
This culinary comedy of manners revolves around Eva Thorvald, born with a perfect palette and a passion for food. Shortly after her birth, Eva’s mother deserts her to become a sommelier and her adoring father—a gifted chef—suddenly dies. Although she’s raised by relatives who don’t have a clue about cuisine, her genes prevail. By the age of eleven, Eva is growing hydroponic chile plants in her closet—and taking red-hot revenge on the middle-school boys who’ve mercilessly bullied her. By 20, she’s a rising food-world star in Minneapolis—fearless and soon to be peerless. Even a supposedly simple sweet corn succatosh tossed together for a potluck forces her rival to concede: “The green beans and corn were each just slightly firm, the bacon was fragrant and not too salty, and the nearly diaphanous white onion pieces were in that Goldilocks zone of piquancy...” Surrounding Eva is a delightfully eccentric cast of cousins, aunts and uncles, friends, and would-be lovers whose lives interlock in unexpected ways. The author's gentle skewering of foodie snobs (from county fair doyennes to the vegan/gluten-free/soy-free police) is spot on, and the blend of humor, warmth, and longing that he uses to portray family relationships make the book insightful and endearing. Savor it page by page.
— Dawn Raffel