Title: Relish: My Life in the Kitchen
Author: Lucy Knisley
Lucy Knisley grew up a daughter of two self-professed foodies. From her very early years in New York City, to her childhood in rural upstate New York, raising chickens and helping out at her mom’s catered events, to college in Chicago and travels abroad, Knisley’s life was shaped and enriched by food. Relish is a love letter not only to her favorite meals and recipes, but a love letter to the way food played a part in her most important and cherished memories.
I thought this graphic memoir was very cute. The style of the illustrations was colorful and fun but not so cartoony that I could forget that the book was a memoir. I also liked the way the book was structured; each chapter was a separate memory Knisley experienced where food played a major role. At the end of each chapter she gave us a drawn recipe, some of which sounded really good. As we went through the book and Knsiley’s life it was very easy to appreciate how central a part food played in the lives’ of her parents and hers’. With a mother who owns a catering business and a father whose hobby is eating at five-star restaurants, Knisley’s upbringing was influenced by food in a way and manner much different then my own. Although I have memories of special dinners and celebrations where food played a big role and although we have several ‘family’ recipes and meals that I am fond of and hold a special place in my heart, I can’t look back at my life and relate my most poignant memories through food. Knisely can and does to wonderful effect in this book. I thought it was interesting to see just how a certain lifestyle or manner of upbringing can shape the lens through which you view and think about the events of your life.
Some of the chapters in the book I did care for more than others- the Mexico trip and the chapter about her leaving home and attending college in Chicago were my favorites, I think. But I did enjoy the whole book and it made for a nice afternoon of reading. That being said, that’s all the book was for me: nice. I don’t read many graphic novels, much less graphic memoirs, and this was a nice change of pace and I’m happy to have read it. I would recommend to those looking to step into reading graphic memoirs or who enjoy reading about food but I won’t be singing its’ praises from the nearest cafe’s rooftop. Knisley wrote and had published a previous graphic memoir, French Milk, which is about six weeks she spent in Paris, along with a couple of other works. I had heard of French Milk before but I hadn’t realized it was by the same person as Relish. If I see it or any of her other works while browsing the shelves at the library I think I would be inclined to pick it up and save it for a rainy afternoon but I don’t think I will go out actively looking for them.
That said, I do want to read more graphic memoirs! I’ve read Maus which I thought was very powerful and Persepolis which I also enjoyed but that’s about it. I’ve heard good things about Stiches by David Small, Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, and Can’t We Talk About Something a Little More Pleasant by Rox Chast, which people have been requesting at the library a lot and I’ve been sneaking a random page or two when discharging it. Oh, and Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh. But besides those, I don’t have anymore on my mental ‘Graphic Memoirs To Eventually Read List.’
Can anyone recommend me some good graphic memoirs? What’s your favorite graphic novel?
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