This foodie memoir is a delight. Whilst there is still a hint of the precocious Lucy that we met in French Milk, it is much less of an obstacle to enjoyment, or at least it was for me. I think it also helps that rather than focusing on just one place (albeit Paris) for a very short period of only five weeks, this is an exploration of a life long obsession with good food.
Knisley makes no apologies for the fact that she was introduced to really good food from a young age. Her mother is a chef and her father a foodie from way back and she spent her childhood years in the kitchens of restaurants. She remembers other kids bringing cupcakes to school for their birthdays but her mother would turn up with a blow torch to give the creme brulee a perfect crunchy top.
Lucy lived in New York with her parents until they divorced and Lucy and her mother moved to rural upstate New York - quite the shock to city girl Lucy. It wasn't long before Lucy's mother was involved in food again through farmers markets, catering companies and more, and therefore so was Lucy!
As well as talking about more exotic food and adventures, the author tells of her parents mortification at the fact that she still enjoys junk food like Maccas (McDonalds just in case you didn't get the Aussie vernacular), batches of chocolate chip cookies instead of anything more gourmet, of her shock at finding bits of marshmallows in breakfast cereals (I must confess I find this a bit shocking still!) and more.
We follow Lucy from New York to the country, to Japan, France and Mexico (which was a really fun story), to Chicago and then full circle back to New York. The one thing that stays constant is Lucy's love of good food, of being willing to try new foods, and of trying to recreate those foods. I loved the chapter where Lucy tried to recapture the elusive taste of a croissant that she bought in Venice to the point of being obsessed!
The thing that pleased me most as I was reading was how much it made me smile. In nearly every chapter there was some little quirky addition to the drawing or some tale that just made me happy to read. In one of the chapters, the author talks about going to Japan to visit friend and at the end of that chapter she gives a pictorial demonstration of how to make sushi rolls. In a very small corner, there are three pictures - one of a sushi mat furled, then unfurled and then worn as a hat. They are all tiny pictures, but it is the kind of detail that makes it worth the time to look at all the images closely!
As another example, there is a chapter about why Lucy Knisley doesn't feel guilty about eating foie gras. Let's just say it involves an incident with very aggressive geese. There were echoes of this story in my own family. My sister has a terrible fear of birds which has evolved over the years after being chased up a tree in our backyard by chooks, and then on another occasion being attacked by a black swan!
Here, as an example of what you might expect if you choose to read Relish, is Lucy Knisley's recipe for Pasta Carbonara (click on image to enlarge!)
I am always a bit reluctant to use words like charming when describing a book, but sometimes there is just no better word, and this is one of those occasions. Relish is a charming, delightfully fun foodie memoir and I recommend it highly!
Lucy Knisley's mouth-watering graphic memoir will make you hungry.
Whether she's injuring herself - again and again - in pursuit of a perfect croissant or bankrupting herself on fancy cheeses, Lucy Knisley know what she wants: a good meal. The daughter of a chef and a gourmet, she comes by her priorities honestly. In this Technicolor love letter to cooking and eating, Knisley presents her personal history as seen through a kaleidoscope of delicious things.
Defying the idea of eating as a compulsion and food as a consumer product, Relish invites us to celebrate the meals we eat as a connection to our bodies, and to each other. Knisley's intimate and utterly charming graphic memoir offers reflections on cooking, eating and living - as well as some of her favourite recipes.
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