Lucy Knisley loves food. The daughter of a chef and a gourmet, this talented young cartoonist comes by her obsession honestly. In her forthright, thoughtful, and funny memoir, Lucy traces key episodes in her life thus far, framed by what she was eating at the time and lessons learned about food, cooking, and life. Each chapter is bookended with an illustrated recipe—many of them treasured family dishes, and a few of them Lucy's original inventions.
A welcome read for anyone who ever felt more passion for a sandwich than is strictly speaking proper, Relish is a book for our time: it invites the reader to celebrate food as a connection to our bodies and a connection to the earth, rather than an enemy, a compulsion, or a consumer product.
Lucy grew up as the daughter of foodies, and as such developed a taste for all things different and gourmet (and sometimes expensive!) at a young age. Because she associates certain memories with food, it naturally made sense for her to write a food-based memoir, complete with recipes at the end of each chapter. And as a talented illustrator, she can also share her memories in images. Lucy’s upbringing in the kitchen and wonderful talent are on display in Relish, and her experiences from childhood through early adulthood come to life through her writing and art.
Of course Lucy doesn’t transcribe her experiences in a completely linear fashion. She approaches each set of images as a separate piece of the puzzle, and though it may not be immediately apparent, she plays with perspective until each panel fits in the whole. There’s no extraneous, self-indulgent filler – the medium won’t allow for it. This, combined with subjects she clearly loves (food, family, travel, art), makes for a thoughtful, lively story that will appeal to graphic novel pros and newbies alike.
I’m also convinced that Lucy and I would be friends. It could happen! (in my dreams…) While each chapter/vignette in Relish has its own charm, my favorite part of Lucy’s story was her obvious love and respect for her mother, which is visible on almost every page. I too credit a lot of my own quirks and character to a loving family and food. In all, Relish is a delightful change of pace, and it made me happy and proud to be a budding foodie. I can’t wait to try Lucy’s Spice Tea (chai) recipe!
Recommended for: anyone who enjoys graphic novels (or is hoping to start reading them), foodies, and those who enjoy YA memoirs. Probably most appropriate for readers ages ten and up.
Interested in other food-related posts? Check out Beth Fish Reads’ Weekend Cooking!