Relish: My Life in the Kitchen | Book review
Cartoonist Lucy Knisley crafts a food-centric memoir.
Maybe fetal imprinting really does work. You can’t discount it after learning more about crackerjack cartoonist Lucy Knisley, whose mother embraced gourmet meals and painting while little Lucy was still in utero. Be it nature, nurture or (likely) both, let’s just be thankful for the results: Her comic-book memoir Relish: My Life in the Kitchen is part coming-of-age tale, part travelogue, part cookbook. While Knisley is the progeny of foodies, Relish is what happens when M.F.K. Fisher and Archie have a baby.
A graduate of the School of the Art Institute (and occasional contributor to TOC and TOC Kids), Knisley mixes many geographical influences into this delightful paperback: her childhood in New York City and rural Hudson Valley; eventful trips to Mexico, Italy and Japan; and time in Chicago, manifesting gourmet experiences despite a college-kid budget. She leavens her mix of amusing anecdotes and keen observations with deceptively simple artwork, accented by whimsical lettering and a gorgeous color palette. Occasionally, the pages seem a bit overcrowded with text, but for the most part, the layouts form a perfectly proportioned feast. And each chapter ends with a cartooned recipe (chocolate-chip cookies, huevos rancheros, marinated lamb).
Knisley’s ecumenical take on eating won’t satisfy everyone. For example, she loves foie gras (which she indulges in guiltlessly, thanks to an encounter with geese and hornets practically torn from The Hunger Games), but she also enjoys Mickey D’s because “We all sometimes need a little comfort grease.” The only thing she won’t eat? Miracle Whip. Hey, you’ve got to draw a line somewhere.
Knisley reads on Thursday 11.