I could easily map my life in recipes, but there are a few that stand out as paramount to who I am today.
My grandma Helene’s lasagna. My grandma Lucy’s spaghetti sauce. My dad’s chili. My mom’s meatloaf. My husband’s kielbasa and perogies.
Every one of these dishes calls to mind memories more vivid than any song or photograph can.
Food is a full body experience. A memory you relive with each of your senses, and a memory you can share with others. Food is a language you experience before you can speak and when you have no words left.
The food we eat is our culture, our heritage, our history, and–in large part–how these things become our present and presented to our future.
Kitchens of the Great Midwest is a book that not only respects that sentiment, but plays with it in narrative. While Eva might be considered the protagonists, the story is no more about her than anyone else.
Written in broken narrative, Stradal follows each character’s story of a food that either changed their life, marked a change in their life, or became a cause for change. Food, Stradal implies, is our great connector, the thing community is built and grown around.
But food is even more than community with those sharing a seat at our table. Food offers a kind of immortality that spans generations. The last time my Italian grandmother made me spaghetti is not the last time I’ll ever have “Grandma’s Spaghetti.” Great-grandchildren who will never meet her in person will meet her through this dish. We can transcend time through something as simple, as mundane, as dinner.
Kitchens of the Great Midwest is nostalgia dished up with a crisp Riesling. Refreshing and lingering, with a warmth you can only find around the table.