relish by lucy knisley {book review}

Relish by Lucy Knisley

title: Relish
author: Lucy Knisley

publication date: April 2, 2013
publisher: First Second

I’m lucky to have grown up with cooks and bakers, eaters and critics, and meals to remember. My memories were formed in conjunction with my palate, collected along with photographs of shared meals from my childhood.
— Lucy Knisley (Relish)

Relish by Lucy Knisley

When I first saw this book (someone had tweeted about it) it definitely sparked my interest – it was a food memoir in a graphic novel form. I was kind of wary about buying a food-related graphic novel (although I do have a soft spot for comics) but I was interested enough to push it to the top of my (insanely long) food book wish list and ordered it a couple months ago.

the first nibble:

I was hooked on this book within the first couple of pages. Lucy’s light-hearted humour, obvious love of food and very familiar art style captured me instantly. I later found out (via her Amazon bio) that “Beginning with a love for Archie comics, Tintin and Calvin and Hobbes, [Knisley] has been making comics in some form or another since she could hold a pencil.” Ok, I grew up on Archie comics and Tintin and I still have Calvin and Hobbes and Foxtrot sitting on my bookshelf – THAT’S why Lucy’s style appealed to me so much!

In any case, besides the jaunt through Lucy’s food-focused life, there are wonderfully illustrated recipes scattered throughout the book that correspond to chapters of Lucy’s life. While most definitely NOT a cookbook, the recipes were a fun, whimsical addition to the memoir.

Lucy’s love of food came at a young age. She freely admits that she was raised by foodies – her parents and extended family were all involved in the food industry or passionate food lovers. Lucy herself has some very interesting food experiences, made all the more humorous through her fun drawings.

Relish by Lucy Knisley

the nitty-gritty:

number of recipes (as stated by book): 11

– separate ingredient list? yes (in drawings)
– serving info given? no
– prep/cook time given? no
– recipe format: visual steps

The recipes in the book are varied, ranging from Spice Tea to Carbonara to Huevos Rancheros and correspond to the time in Lucy’s life (ie. Huevos Rancheros are included in the chapter where Lucy goes to Mexico with her mom and some friends).

I wasn’t expecting any recipes when I bought this book, so they were an added bonus. Plus, I adore the visual illustration of the recipes.

Relish by Lucy Knisley

the last bite:

This was a super-easy read – after all, it’s a graphic novel. The artwork isn’t busy or complicated, but I love it. The recipes, although not necessary, were a fun addition and made this food memoir even more ‘foodie’.

Unlike other memoirs I’ve read, I didn’t feel like I really knew much about Lucy or her life, probably because most of the content is so simplified in comic form. It was more like a collection of snapshots into food-related events in Lucy’s life, like her unsupervised vacation in the streets of Mexico with her friend Drew, or that time Lucy became obsessed with recreating croissants she had in Venice.

I don’t know if this graphic novel format is for everyone, but it was definitely a treat for me (but then, I really like Lucy’s art style). I zipped through Relish and was sad when I reached the end (lucky for me, Lucy has several other graphic novels out – I’ve ordered them all).

Click here to purchase Relish from The Book Depository (free worldwide shipping) or Amazon.

Relish by Lucy Knisley

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