Foodie novelist visits The Bookworm of Edwards |

Foodie novelist visits The Bookworm of Edwards

Sarah Taylor
Special to the Daily
“Kitchens of the Great Midwest," a novel by J. Ryan Stradal.
Special to the Daily |

If you go ...

What: Book signing with J. Ryan Stradal, author of “Kitchens of the Great Midwest.”

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Where: The Bookworm of Edwards, 295 Main St., Edwards.

Cost: $10, includes appetizers.

More information: Call 970-926-7323 or visit

The foodie revolution began well before it was common practice to Instagram pictures of meals. It was found in the hearts of those who use food as an expression of art. It’s now cultivated in every part of the world, with each culture bringing its unique takes to the global table. This movement is also found at the center of the debut novel “Kitchens of the Great Midwest,” by J. Ryan Stradal.

Set deep in Midwestern culture, Stradal tells the story of the fictional character Eva Thorvald and her rise to fame in the food world. By learning the tricks of her trade from contacts in restaurants, connoisseurs of cuisine and her own intrinsic taste for flavors, Eva becomes a household name.

The author will visit The Bookworm of Edwards on Tuesday to sign copies of the book.


Stradal grew up in Hastings, Minnesota, and was inspired to pursue writing from an early age by watching his mother achieve her dreams.

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“My mom would bring home her homework and would read the assignments to me,” Stradal said. “We already had a house full of readers, but getting to see her be published was wonderful. I was so proud of her.”

This inspiration led to the writing and publishing of “Kitchens of the Great Midwest.” Eva, the main character, is a rising star in the foodie revolution. From a young age, she is drawn to food and begins to hone her skills every chance she can. She learns through her own research and through the help of those around her. Even with Stradal’s Midwestern upbringing, he, too, had to dive into the foodie world, just as Eva does.

“This book required quite a bit of research,” Stradal said. “I took many trips to the state fairs and visited many Lutheran church basements. I’ve always felt regional foods have been underrated and underrepresented. It was very cool to write about them.”


“Kitchens” has a very unique writing style. Though Eva is the main character of the story, she rarely speaks or has the spotlight. Eva’s story is told through the perspectives of characters who have been involved with her in some way. There are characters that are closely tied with Eva and those who have only a few experiences with her. Yet, each perspective paints a broader picture of Eva’s life and explains her history.

“I’d never written about someone famous in this way,” Stradal said. “Instead of having the reader trudge through Eva’s rise to fame firsthand, I wanted them to observe. It was fun to write about her in a way that was increasingly remote, as she became more of an icon. A reader may have a hard time believing what a character says about themselves, but they will always be prone to believe what a character has to say.”

In addition to Eva’s story, “Kitchens” is filled with the lives of other characters. From a mouthy cousin to a prim and proper housewife, the characters throughout the book uniquely bring the reader into their lives as they speak about Eva.

“The Midwest is not just one character,” Stradal said. “I tried to write them all. I honestly could have written whole other books about specific minor characters.”

Though the book explores the Midwestern foodie culture, people from around the country have been falling in love with its story.

Stradal looks forward to being introduced to the culture of the mountains when he visits The Bookworm on Tuesday.

“I want to ask the audience to think about where they grew up,” Stradal said. “Is there a dish that they grew up with that affected their lives? If this book was entitled ‘Kitchens of the Great Rocky Mountains,’ how would the local foods and dishes change the book?”

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