Lucy Knisley has lived the kind of foodie life I often fantasize about. As the daughter of an artist-turned-chef mother and fine dining-obsessed father, she’s always had a special relationship with food. Hers were the type of parents who fed their infant daughter poached salmon in cream following her baptism and saw to it that their daughter cultivated an adventurous palate and a lifelong appreciation for food. Relish, Knisley’s second graphic memoir, traces the role food has had in her life by recounting some of her most memorable food-related experiences.
I’m just going to come right out and say it: I loved this book. Loved the colorful artwork, loved the writing, loved the recipes, loved it all! Knisley writes about food — everything from McDonald’s to $250 prix fixe dinners — in a humorous and down-to-earth way. What really holds it together is the book’s heart: you can tell that she loves everything she’s writing about and wants you to love it, too.
Another thing that really shines through is Knisley’s relationship with her parents, especially her mother. Her parents divorced when she was young; her father stayed in Manhattan, while she and her mother moved to upstate New York to start over in the Catskills. There her mother truly thrived, planting her own garden, raising chickens, and working with local farmers while running a catering business. By her side the whole time was Lucy, learning the ropes of country life and developing a more organic relationship with food and food production. Meanwhile, visits to Manhattan and trips abroad with her father exposed her to the other side of food since he loved fine dining. It’s about as well-rounded a food education as one could ever hope for.
Ending almost every chapter is quite possibly the coolest presentation of recipes I’ve ever seen. Below is an example of Knisley’s recipe for huevos rancheros (click to enlarge):
Foodies won’t want to miss reading about Knisley’s enviable food journey. It’s impossible not to be utterly charmed by Relish, and I know I’ll happily be revisiting it in the future.
Relish: My Life in the Kitchen was published on April 2, 2013 by First Second Books, an imprint of Roaring Brook Press.