"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" -- from publisher's web site.
I read it one afternoon and then turned back to page one and read it all over again. And then took a few pictures of my favorite parts.
I first came upon Lucy Knisley's work at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival this year, and I instantly liked her style of drawing and storytelling. The illustrated recipes in particular drew my attention, as I found them very similar to the work of the French illustrator Guillaume Long which I've been following for quite a while. However, the similarity stops there, as her general aesthetic is closer to that of contemporary american illustrators such as Alison Bechdel or Raina Telgemeier. I'm looking forward to discovering more of her work!
The basics: Relish is a memoir of Knisley's life told through food. As the daughter of foodies, Knisley traces her relationship with food from childhood to today.
My thoughts: Lucy Knisley has a wonderful ability to share the emotions she felt with her readers. It's not simply a matter of her signature art, although her visual aesthetic certainly contributes to it, particularly the way she uses space. At the heart of what I love about her work is her raw honesty. She doesn't hide, and that inhibition draws me right in. Knisley isn't just showing and telling her story, she's inviting her readers to share it.
Relish is obviously perfect for foodies. The images of Knisley tasting her first foie gras at a dinner party as a child and proceeding to ask every grown up at the table if they had any extra brought tears to my eyes. When she visited Alinea, I shared her excitement (and was filled with jealousy.) While I loved the food moments individually, collectively this graphic memoir is much more than simply a life of food. Knisley's journey, which she marks with food, is the real treasure.
The verdict: Relish is a more ambitious graphic memoir than French Milk, and it succeeds on more levels because of it. It's a graphic memoir I'll return to re-read again and again over the years, as I, too, form more new food memories.
I've read many "foodie" memoirs and "foodie" travel memoirs. Knisley's are my favorites; partly because they're graphic works and partly because she's not a food snob -- she eats fast foods and junk foods as well, as long as they taste good to her.
I thought the illustrations in this book were better than in her previous books. I missed the photographs that were part of [French Milk], although she does include a section of family photos (food related, of course) at the end of the book.
"I was a child raised by foodies" is our first introduction to Lucy and to this graphic novel which traces Lucy's life from her early childhood to her graduating from art school all through her memories of food. The book is entertaining, funny, enjoyable, and a feast for the eyes. Lucy's drawings are good, the lettering of the text is nice (remember I really hate the computer generated text that most comic books use) and the stories told flow nicely from one part of her life to the next. We learn about her, her Chef Mother, Mexico, her parents divorce, raising chickens, Japan and hop on a culinary journey with a eurail pass. But wait, there's more… the recipes! Through out the book, are some of Lucy's tried and true recipes that are drawn AND written out…
It is so much fun to read about these recipes and then have Lucy include the recipe by drawing them out! I just loved it! And this idea of illustrating a "food" novel is certainly popular now, as Michael Pollan had his book, Food Rules, recently redone in an illustrated version.
Why I read Relish? Because I like reading "food" books. I like reading about the inside scoop on the food industry, reading about chefs, foods, and recipe books. And I like graphic novels, not your super hero kind generally speaking, but I do enjoy some of those, but graphic novels that are unique and this is definitely unique. "Classified" as a teen book, but I really feel this is more for adults, because it brings a kind of nostalgia about your own "culinary" coming of age.
If you like "foodie" books, this one will make you smile. And I'm getting out some pancetta to make a Carbonara from one of these recipes that looks absolutely dee-lish!
Knisley writes with delight about her food experiences throughout the book, and the joy of it all is contagious (in a good way). It is, however, a pretty straightforward and happy book, in case you're used to darker graphic novel memoirs. Having said that, the story still carries its own weight and I highly recommend the book.
This would be great for teens, but not much younger - she does include a chapter in which a family friend spends a vacation buying as many porn magazines as possible.
Like many people, I was first introduced to Lucy Knisley through her travelogue French Milk and I was quickly enthralled. Her simple, yet evocative, line drawings created an entertaining story that made me feel like I was sitting with a good friend, sharing a meal, and listening to their adventures. Since that time I’ve eagerly kept up with Lucy’s work and career and she has quickly become one of my all time favorite artists and storytellers. And her latest work of course is no exception.
What I love best about this story, is not only that Lucy shares her journey and her story with us, but I find it easy to relate to her work. I know that sounds strange because I’m not a foodie and I’m not female, but I can honestly say that I can look at her work and find some trace of myself in it. Mainly because Lucy doesn’t try to hide those unflattering moments that so many of us wish we could hide, such as being a brat and rebellious towards are parents. Lucy instead embraces it and share it with us in such a way that we can relate to it and remember our own experiences growing up. And I stress that point because some authors seemingly want nothing more than pity or take such a hard look at themselves they no longer seem human. Lucy’s writing puts us on her level and makes it easy to relate to her and feel like we’re talking with a good friend, which to me is the sign of a great writer.
While the story is fantastic, Lucy’s artwork is even better. Her watercolor paintings of her adventures are bright, colorful, and exude life. It makes me feel like I’m standing right there with her sampling exotic candies in Mexico and smelling fragrant cheeses in Chicago as she serves them to customers. She has an elegance to her work that easily captures the human figure without overwhelming it with detail and unnecessary lines and just brings the story to life. I could say more, but why give unnecessary detail? Go check out her work and you’ll be impressed as well.
As you can tell I really enjoy Lucy’s work and I think a y’all will as well. I highly recommend this book. The story is simple, easy to follow, and flows naturally and the artwork is beautiful. And I can’t give it any higher praise than that.
ARC provided by Gina at FirstSecond
What a delightful memoir! In telling her own story, Lucy Knisley also relates family memories going back to her mother's college years in New York's developing gourmet scene. History seems to repeat itself when Lucy goes to college in Chicago during that city's growth as a foodie center.
Lucy starts life in New York City, but moves to a rural setting with her mother when her parents divorce.She's a foodie from the start and shares her learning experiences. Each chapter is concluded with a recipe. These recipes are also gentle tutorials on food preparation and cooking methods. Because Lucy managed to travel quite a bit, the dishes are diverse (huevos rancheros, sushi, pickles, sauteed mushrooms).
A fun book with great illustrations: nostalgic for the experienced cook, some great information for the novice, and a coming of age story line. For foodies of all ages.
Knisley’s drawings are lively and colourful showing that a graphic novel is a great way to tell a story involving food. Each chapter ends with a recipe and the graphics lend themselves well to showing the techniques needed. This book is a great marriage of recipe, graphic novel and memoir.