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Relish: My Life in the Kitchen

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A vibrant, food-themed memoir from beloved indie cartoonist Lucy Knisley.

Lucy Knisley loves food. The daughter of a chef and a gourmet, this talented young cartoonist comes by her obsession honestly. In her forthright, thoughtful, and funny memoir, Lucy traces key episodes in her life thus far, framed by what she was eating at the time and lessons learned about food, cooking, and life. Each chapter is bookended with an illustrated recipe—many of them treasured family dishes, and a few of them Lucy's original inventions.

A welcome read for anyone who ever felt more passion for a sandwich than is strictly speaking proper, Relish is a book for our time: it invites the reader to celebrate food as a connection to our bodies and a connection to the earth, rather than an enemy, a compulsion, or a consumer product.

173 pages, Paperback

First published April 2, 2013

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About the author

Lucy Knisley

46 books1,969 followers
Beginning with an love for Archie comics and Calvin and Hobbes, Lucy Knisley (pronounced "nigh-zlee") has always thought of cartooning as the only profession she is suited for. A New York City kid raised by a family of foodies, Lucy is a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago currently pursuing an MFA at the Center for Cartoon Studies. While completing her BFA at the School of the Art Institute, she was comics editor for the award-winning student publication F News Magazine.

Lucy currently resides in New York City where she makes comics. She likes books, sewing, bicycles, food you can eat with a spoon, manatees, nice pens, costumes, baking and Oscar Wilde. She occasionally has been known to wear amazing hats.

She can be reached via e-mail at lucylou@gmail.com.

(copied from http://www.lucyknisley.com/about on 12/31/08)

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,738 reviews
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,561 reviews5,820 followers
April 20, 2015
A foodie graphic novel. This is getting ALL THE STARS!!



Do not attempt to read this book if you are hungry. Do not attempt to read this book if you are even thinking about being hungry.

Lucy Knisley was born to two people who love food. She was introduced to a sophisticated palate pretty much at birth.


This book is told as a memoir of her growing up years. Food and tastes serve as memories for her (and me) so she takes us on a journey of her childhood through food.

She moves to the country with her caterer mom after her parents divorce and encounters a whole different perspective of food. Not always in ways she likes.


There is also a trip to Mexico that involves porno mags, unknown amounts of the "sugar high" and coming of age for her and her friend Drew.
Then she also spends some time with Dad. In Paris. The city of food. What does Lucy do? She craves those crispy McDonald's fries, sneaks out and gets her some!


Sometimes even foodies need some grease.

This is a fun book whether you are a food lover or a food to live kinda person. Plus there are recipes. In comic form! How awesome is that?
Profile Image for PorshaJo.
436 reviews655 followers
November 30, 2016
I'll be honest....I avoided this one for so long because I heard it was part graphic novel. It's just not my thing. But recently, I just can't get into anything, and I just wanted to read about my favorite thing...FOOD! I love reading cookbooks or food memoirs, etc. So finally, I decided to pick this one up. And I'm so glad I did. What a charming book. Lucy Knisley was always surrounded by food. Her parents, "foodies", instilled these values in her at a very young age. Lucy was never one to open her box of Cheerios or Frankenberries at breakfast. I laugh at children today who only eat foods that come out of a box and then are individually wrapped in plastic wrap. (Yes, I write this while eating an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie for breakfast.....what??!?!? Yeah, I'm being lazy today but atleast it's a homemade cookie.)

Lucy grew up surrounded by food and what better way to tell this story than through moments in her life where food played a major role. To working catering jobs with her mom, to picking organic mushrooms on an upstate New York farm to sell at a farmers market, to writing reviews for her Aunt on food in restaurants, to visiting Mexico and discovering the wonderful world of Mexican food. I loved the graphic picture parts too. Each chapter is a food related story and it includes pictures to accompany the story. And, even better, each chapter includes a graphic depiction of a recipe. Awesome! There are a few I want to try out - especially the mushroom one, which I'm on a huge mushroom kick now.

I'm kinda envious of her youth, growing up surrounded by good food, recalling moments in those years through stories of food. Some of my childhood food memories I cringe at today. Perhaps I'm just a bit of a food snob now. I'm so glad I picked this one up and gave it a shot. If you are food obsessed, you will not be disappointed with it. Even if your not a fan of graphic novels. I plan to pick up her other books too - each story told in graphic form. And I'll not wait so long to get to those ones.
Profile Image for Heather.
370 reviews16.7k followers
August 26, 2017
Oh my, I loved this!
If you love graphic novels, read this!
If your a foodie, read this!
I loved the authors diff. stories about her relationship to food!
Profile Image for First Second Books.
560 reviews540 followers
Shelved as 'first-second-publications'
April 10, 2013
One of the most interesting parts about publishing books with cooking in them is recipe-testing them!

(We run into people all the time who are like, 'Publishers actually make all the recipes in the cookbooks they publish to make sure they work? Are you . . . crazy?' But of course we do -- the same way that textbook publishers check all the facts that are in their textbooks. Cookbooks are one of the easiest things to mess up with accidental typos, second to math books -- if you change just one number, a whole recipe could be ruined (was that 1 or 11 tablespoons of salt?). We try our best to make sure that does not happen!)

Mostly our editor does the recipe testing in our office, but I'm pleased to say that I have so far tested three of the recipes in Relish, and they were all delicious! Lucy says that she tried to present the recipes in a format that was intuitive and allowed for creativity, and as someone continually making vegetarian substitutions in her recipes, I found that structure to be very helpful.
Profile Image for Z. F..
289 reviews97 followers
December 21, 2020
A loose series of illustrated, food-related anecdotes by the daughter of a New York chef, with a recipe at the end of each chapter. In theory Relish is charming and feel-good, but in practice it left me mostly bored and more than a little annoyed. This is one of those rich kid narratives where the rich kid is eager to convince you she's not actually rich, grousing about being a "broke college student" or driving a "rickety clunker" between meals at Michelin-starred restaurants and pleasure trips to Italy, Japan, and remote Mexican hideaways. These days (in the U.S. at least) it's almost a prerequisite for being rich that you also have to pretend you're currently or formerly poor, which I promise is 100% more alienating to us common folk than simply acknowledging you've got a trust fund and getting on with it. Most of this book exists on one of those two poles—"Here's a cool thing I got to do thanks to my well-connected parents" or "Here's how salt-of-the-earth I am"—so if you can't get on board with that there's not much left for you.

Otherwise the illustrations are good if not particularly groundbreaking (though the food is well-drawn and tasty-looking), and the stories are only stories in the airiest sense. (There's no tension or plot here, so don't look for them.) I wanted to let go and just enjoy the culinary talk, but I guess I'm too much of a Bolshevik these days to uncritically take pleasure in what feels like, essentially, a warm and fuzzy celebration of class privilege.
Profile Image for Seth T..
Author 2 books844 followers
January 29, 2013
I was unlucky in birth. I mean, sort of. Really everything went pretty swimmingly save for the fact that I was born with a very narrow palette. My range of acceptable tastes and textures is lean and withered. I am, others have judged, a picky eater.

Relish by Lucy Knisley

[This was not me.]

I'm fine with a small battery of stand-bys (meats, potatoes, dairy, most fruits), but vegetables and items with more exotic textures remain holy and set apart for sacrifice to other eaters. I mean, I absolutely adore steamed artichoke, but broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes (not a vegetable, I know), and non-Idaho-potato roots twist my expression into something sinister. Mussels, oysters, and sushi are a rocky row to hoe—fourteen years ago when I interviewed for my current job, I was taken to sushi, gave it a chance, and nearly drenched my prospective employer in regurgitation. I mostly stick to safe things these days, out of habit and out of fear.

With all that in mind, think about how incredible Lucy Knisley's book must be to make me want to a) prepare things like a plateful of mushrooms, a gaggle of sushi rolls, or a good pesto, and then b) try actually eating the product of those recipes. Relish, Knisley's personal-history-via-gustatory-memory, is simply wonderful. I haven't been this exuberant about a reading experience in a while. There are better, thicker, more challenging works available and as far as importance goes, the 173-page paperback doesn't hold a candle to, say, Building Stories or Duncan the Wonder Dog. But that hardly matters as I'm pretty well-convinced that I had more fun reading Relish. It's that much fun.

Relish by Lucy Knisley

[Curvy!]

Knisley's memoir is composed of twelve short chapters that roughly trace the chronology of her life, and each pericope develops around the various foods she associates with those stories. She intersperses narrative delights with recipes for favourite foods and a helpful fact sheet explaining the complicated world of cheeses. None of my description of this, however, conveys the pleasure and excitement Knisley's pages draw forth.

Her work is bright, colourful, humourous, and (best of all) exuberant. The joy Knisley evidently takes in the act of tasting is translated almost perfectly (fn1) through both her narrative choices and the manner of her execution. Her characters are lively and their expressions telling. She narrates her story with a confident voice and as much as she talks about food, good food, and even gourmet food, Knisley never approaches that smug condescension that has become the signature delight of the foodie crowd. Here, wait. I'll share with you the piece that utterly won me over early on in the book.

Relish by Lucy Knisley
[Click to read without squinting.]

That right there is golden. I will confess that perhaps nothing else in the book grabbed me quite so well as the image of young Lucy dreaming of all the geese that would be foie-grased into her belly over the succeeding years—but the rest isn't far off.

And at the end of the day, Relish does probably exactly what it sets out to do:


1) Make Lucy Knisley seem like an awesome person with an infectious love for food.
2) Infect the reader with that love for food.
3) ...


There are probably other things the book sets out to accomplish as well: like talk about stuff that happened, share information about food, underscore the fact that Knisley's mother is a bitchen cook, make divorce seem sad. Stuff like that. It's all there and it's all at some level of important. But end of the day? Relish is about a young woman's love of food and how you will be drawn into that love's blackhole gravity until you become one with a love for food too.

Remember: I almost vomited on the founder of the company I was trying to work for all because the taste and texture of high-quality toro put my throat into convulsions. And now I think I want to try sushi again.

Relish by Lucy Knisley

[As it turns out, many of the things we eat are sinister. And not all of them are meats.]

Footnotes
1) I only say almost to leave her room for improvement—even though I can't imagine in which direction she could improve.

________________________

[Review courtesy of Good Ok Bad.]
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
1,968 reviews2,687 followers
February 4, 2023
5.0 Stars
I absolutely love this graphic novel. Knisley successfully write this food memoir with charm and humour. The artwork is so cute! I feel like this book will speak to anyone who loves cooking or food.

I love that while she enjoys higher end cuisine, she also admits to craving McDonalds. Knisley seems like such a down to earth woman.

Reread July 2016 & again Aug 2018. Originally Read November 2013.
Profile Image for Arghoon.
169 reviews19 followers
September 5, 2022
غذا؛ تو ای زیبایِ خواستنی!

این کتاب یه اتوبیوگرافیِ مصور بر محور غذاست؛ یعنی سه تا چیزی که هر کدوم به تنهایی خوبن ولی  ترکیبشون در کنار هم واقعا جادویی میشه.
راوی یه دختریه که توی خانواده‌‌ای بزرگ شده که به‌ طور حرفه‌ای اهل آشپزی و خوردن غذای باکیفیت بودن. اول کتاب بهمون میگه وقتی میخواد خاطراتش رو به یاد بیاره کلیدی ترین چیزی که توی ذهنش میاد غذا(ها)ئیه که به اون خاطره مربوطه و بعد توی دوازده فصل، دوازده خاطره‌ی برجسته‌ش رو که مستقیم یا غیرمستقیم به غذا مربوط میشن با نقاشی‌های رنگی و گویا برامون بازگو می‌کنه و خب "هر سخن کز دل برآید  لاجرم بر دل نشیند"، کتاب دلنشینیه و بسیار بسیار آدمو گرسنه میکنه، علاوه بر خاطراتی که از خوردن غذاهای خوب میگه، دستور پخت‌های مصور هم انتهای هر فصل هست که بسیار هوس‌انگیزند.
یه سری نقد منفی از این کتاب خوندم که حرف اکثرشون این بود که این نوع زندگی و تجربیات فقط برای یه بچه‌ از خانواده‌ی مرفه اتفاق می‌افته و ما نهایت کیف کردنمون با غذا مک‌دانلده و اینها.‌.‌.. این حرف غلط نیست که خب طبیعتا رفاه لازمه که آدم بتونه مواد اولیه و "زمان" برای پخت غذاهای پیچیده و ظریف داشته باشه و طبیعتا باید مرفه باشی که بتونی به رُم و پاریس سفر کنی و توی رستوران‌های خوب غذا بخوری ولی نمی‌فهمم چرا "صرفا" پولدار بودن نویسنده باعث میشه به کتابش نظر منفی داشته باشیم؟

همین دیگه، خوندنش لذت بخشه و باعث میشه نه تنها به غذاهایی که فرصت خوردنشون رو داشته حسادت کنیم، درکل به شرایط زندگی و تجربیاتش هم رشک بورزیم و با شکم گرسنه ورق بزنیم:'))
پریویلیجد تا کجا؟
Profile Image for Bkwmlee.
367 reviews230 followers
December 27, 2020

Lucy Knisley’s Relish is a fun graphic memoir about growing up in a household surrounded by good food and good fun. With a mother who is a chef and a father who knows how to appreciate fine dining, Knisley had a special relationship with food from an early age. As a cartoonist, Knisley recounts various food-related moments from her life through amazingly rendered illustrations that vibrantly bring her love of food to life. Unlike other books about food, this one bears a positive message about food that I really appreciated — the notion that all foods (from junk food to gourmet dishes) should be celebrated rather than shunned. Food-themed books can be a hit and miss at times, as some (whether directly or indirectly) often come across as “preachy” and can take on a tone that feels like it is reprimanding readers for eating certain types of food. Knisley’s memoir does the opposite in that it does not pass judgment on the merits of the food we decide to eat, but rather celebrates all food for its connection to life and environment.

I don’t consider myself a foodie (despite the fact that I love food and love to eat), but I enjoyed this charming, funny memoir about food and definitely recommend it. I’m not much of a cook so the recipes at the end of each chapter didn’t do much for me, but it was still a lot of fun to read through them and see Knisley’s witty spin on dishes both traditional and outlandish. Seeing that this will likely be the last book I read this year and the last review before my year end recap, I’m glad it will be on a positive note with such a feel-good, delightful read!
Profile Image for Charles Hatfield.
98 reviews39 followers
August 21, 2013
Relish is a foodie memoir for the non-specialist: a gourmet's gift to the ordinary gourmands among us, told with love and verve from a unabashedly personal, often child's-eye perspective. It's about growing up around good food, great cooks, and passionate eaters. Alternately charming and frustrating, the book wobbles from guileless self-absorption to attempted deep insights, aided considerably by Knisley's crisp, delightful cartooning and gorgeous color palette. I kept wanting to dislike it, and finding myself charmed; also wanting to like it, and finding myself put off.

Those of us (I include myself) accustomed to tell-all graphic memoirs will probably be frustrated by Knisley's skirting, or rather her only glancing acknowledgment, of real emotional complexity. The book hints at various displacements, separations, tensions, but its approach is palliative, always celebrating shared cooking and eating as balms to the soul. Essentially, the book is a loving paean to her mother and her mother's cooking, but dotted with other, sometimes spot-on, sometimes undeveloped, anecdotes. Its sense of structure is local, that is, most notable on the chapter level; as a whole, the book ambles on vaguely if agreeably, not quite finding a center other than the simple idea of loving food and those who make it.

At its worst, this determinedly light touch seems to lure Knisley into a blithe sort of narcissistic entitlement, as when her anecdotes about traveling and eating in Mexico and Japan turn into foodie travelogues about Knisley and her fellow expats and what they ate, just about excluding any specific depiction of the Mexican and Japanese subjects they encountered along the way. I found this, to put it mildly, bothersome. Consistent with this (dare I say?) shallow approach is the way Knisley narrates, i.e. summarizes, certain hard-won insights, instead of dramatizing how she came to win them. That gives the insights a potted, received, familiar quality rather than the force of genuine discovery.

The thing is, Relish truly is a loving book, and I can imagine readers getting quite a bit out of it. I do love Knisley's way with the page, with drawing and with color. She can cartoon and design pages up a storm, and there are moments, humorous and neatly visual, of such delectable payoff that I hate to complain. I won't be getting rid of Relish anytime soon, even though I think it doesn't really work as a book.

So. I will look out for further work by Knisley, even though, I have to say, the naivete evoked in this book made me quite impatient with her as a writer. Relish hangs in my mind as a tasty series of anecdotes that strains after book-worthiness but doesn't quite get there.
Profile Image for Calista.
3,792 reviews31.2k followers
November 14, 2017
I enjoyed this. This is told as a story about her life and she it telling you, with a panel or two what happened. In some ways I wish she had just told it like a story about her life.

The art is fun and the recipes in the book look great. I would love to try them. It makes me want to go out in the world and try lots of different food. I have wanted to go to Alina for 2 years now and I wondered if she went while in Chicago. She did. She has eaten all over the world. I like to travel simply to eat their food too.

A different lovely kind of book. It was good. I am loving the company first Second who is putting out these great stories. I have enjoyed everything I tried. They are true stories. I need to find a way to look up a list of the graphic novels they produce. They are on it!
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.2k followers
August 29, 2013
I really liked this exuberant, fun and thoughtful book told with relish about the life of a comic artist raised by foodies, a gourmet chef and a lover of fine dining, great meals. It's a memoir (and read Seth Hahne's great review as usual for one with greater detail, and just.. more relish!) with food and maybe her mom as central figures... positive, joie de vivre, happy, all these things... WITH recipes that emerge out of the stories, out of her life! Fine, fun, colorful, joyful drawings... and she focuses on two great cities I love, NYC and Chicago (oh, and other cities she has lived and visited, too...). She is like many comic artists I like a grad of the Chicago At Institute, still young with so much accomplished and this is great... highly recommend, especially if you are a foodie... or, at least, love to eat!!
Profile Image for Amanda Pearl.
517 reviews262 followers
April 7, 2021
This book is the epitome of white privilege living in a bourgeois bubble of gentrification.

I love to read memoirs because you get to learn about a person's life experience, but also the lessons they have learned and how the events in their life shaped their world view. This graphic novel was a woman's incredibly privlidged existance with no real message and not really grounded in most people's reality. No matter how much you insist you were a poor student and your parents were poor artists, traveling around the world and eating fine cuisine is not the life of a poor person. (not to mention that all fat people are brainwashed sheep willing to eat trash because they aren't cultured enough to value a $50 block of cheese like her enlightened parents, ick).

This memoir ultimately reminds me of a hipster cafe with exposed brick walls, booths made from reclaimed wood, and serves you organic kale water inflused with lavender from miss-matched mason jars. It tries so hard to convince you that it's "authentic" you leave feeling the exact opposite.
Profile Image for Roya.
191 reviews376 followers
June 22, 2018
Final rating: 3.5 stars

Going through graphic novels has really helped me rekindle my love of reading. My poor attention span is forever indebted to you talented artists out there. Relish is about Knisley's relationship with food. I tend to avoid memoirs because more often than not they have this holier-than-thou tone I can't commit to. This was an exception. Knisley is relatable and not just in a look-at-me-I'm-quirky-and-relatable type of way. I found myself laughing every now and then, which books rarely do for me. Lots of fun illustrations with recipes thrown into the mix for good measure. I'll get around to making these cookies eventually.



P.S. The reviews are going to be on the short side for now.

Profile Image for Negin.
591 reviews151 followers
February 18, 2018
I love food and I also enjoy graphic books. This graphic memoir is a fun and light read about cooking and enjoying food. Unlike her first book, “French Milk”, which had quite a bit of complaining, this one seems more mature. Lucy Knisley shows deep appreciation and passion for life’s blessings. Each chapter ends with a recipe, none of which I have tried.

Profile Image for Lauren .
1,680 reviews2,291 followers
October 22, 2016


I remember food like that too, Lucy. The roadside taquerias, the garden-fresh greens, my grandfather's pickles, ripe jungle fruits, the hot falafel and hummus, the bread bowl stews... mmmm. That's why I loved your book so much. A graphic food memoir checks several of my "favorites" boxes - plus, I am a big fan of your art and style, after reading your 2015 Displacement: A Travelogue a few months ago.

Your book was charming and sweet, telling your family's story, your own, the cities you've lived and traveled to, and of course, the richness of amazing foods throughout your life. I loved your graphic recipes (why isn't this more of a thing? other artists need to do this! a whole cookbook even!) and I am gonna try your chocolate chip cookies, sangria, pesto, and huevos rancheros recipes myself.

--
Read for
1) my appreciation of Lucy Knisley's work
2) food! growing, cooking, baking, preserving, eating
2) Book Riot's 2016 Read Harder Challenge - a food memoir
Profile Image for Nnedi.
Author 155 books14.8k followers
September 3, 2013
i loved this book...even used one of the recipes. :-). the inclusion of recipes reminded me of an isabel allende book that did the same thing (i forget the name of the book , right now). i was both amused and disturbed by her childhood experience in mexico, i'll admit. i don't want to put any spoilers in this, so you'll have to read it and find out what i am referring to, haha. i enjoyed the art and the stories through the taste and smells of food. as someone who LOVES to cook, i see the world in a similar way. also, the stories were infused with culture and history in a most unique way. note, this book is a book of interconnected short stories, it's not a novel.
Profile Image for Kendal.
43 reviews1 follower
October 10, 2014
The art is great, and I love the food focus, but Relish was ultimately a flop. Between the only portrayals of fat people being as outraged victims of fast food, and talking about gentrification being so great because it brings more (expensive) food options to neighborhoods, there was just too much lacking. But, I'm also someone who usually avoids any story that involves white people backpacking through anywhere at all costs, if you're into shitty politics and nice drawings of food, you'll probably love it.
Profile Image for Oriana.
Author 2 books3,225 followers
May 6, 2013
This is a fun memoir. It's really a series of vignettes of a life in food: grandma's pickles, a perfect croissant in Venice, Mom's chocolate-chip cookies, seared halibut with Dad. Lucy was born & raised a foodie before there was even such a term. Her mom worked at the very first Dean & Deluca in NYC in the 70s, and was behind the cheese counter for most of her pregnancy. They then moved upstate and Lucy spent her adolescence in farms, farmers markets, and working as a waitress for her mom's fancy catering company. There's great scenes about the power of food, from eating crazy things in Japan to being served awful "lemonade chicken" by a well-meaning but clueless friend. Lucy gives equal weight to a super-high-end molecular gastronomy restaurant and a marinated lamb shank at a family BBQ. She even has a soft spot for junk food, from pocky to McDonald's fries.

The memoir is kind of light, with not too much emotional depth, but it's still really fun. And each chapter ends with a recipe, which is awesome awesome awesome. At our Jugs & Capes meeting today, two different ladies made Lucy's chocolate-chip cookies, and they were spectacular. I hope she does a whole graphic-novel cookbook next!
Profile Image for christa.
745 reviews270 followers
May 7, 2013
This is huge: Lucy Knisley made me mushroom curious. Me. A lifelong hater of all things fungal. I always imagine them as something slick and slug-like, tasting of moldy earth. My mom would take a can, open the lid, pluck fingerfuls of mushrooms the way I do now with black olives. She would give me contradictory messages: So good, she would say. I’d grimace. You can’t even taste them, she would then say. She would dump them into the pasta sauce, ensuring that I would stick to plain noodles with butter and parmesan.

Devotees of mushrooms are, I’m sure you’ve learned, assholes. They can’t order a pizza without them. When a mushroom hater objects, she might be granted a half pizza without mushrooms. Sure as shit, at the end of the night it’s the mushroom-y pieces that remain. Even the mushroom fans have dipped into the plain old cheese piece just to mix it up. Still hungry? Eat one with mushrooms.

“Just pick them off,” someone will say.

Impossible. That wet insole taste lingers, man, well after the mushrooms have been flung far from the plate.

In an effort to be 100 percent legit, I’ll admit this: Twice I have not hated mushrooms. Episode One: My mom filled a crockpot with mushrooms, like a pound of butter and Hidden Valley Ranch dried seasoning. This has everything to do with butter and nothing to do with mushrooms. Episode Two: I have enjoyed raw, sliced mushrooms from a veggie tray. But they cannot be even slightly damp or have the appearance of having once been damp.

So what does Knisley have to do with this? Everything. The artist’s comic book “Relish: My Life in the Kitchen” is a love letter-memoir to all things food, especially her mother’s culinary influences. In between chapters there are recipes for hueves rancheros or tutorials on cheese done in her whimsical and charming style. One of these is a simple recipe that actually made me salivate … over mushrooms. If a book can inspire that kind of mushroom curiosity, I have to give the creator props.

Lucy’s parents were foodies -- her mother the cooking kind, her father the enjoying kind -- and she grew up tasting the mix of fare in New York City. When her parents divorced, Lucy went to upstate New York with her mother, where they gardened and worked at the farmer’s market and learned to appreciate farm-to-table. During a trip to Japan, Lucy samples sushi and struggles with soy. During another trip, she goes nutso on Pixie Sticks. She ends up in Chicago and has the chance to discover a food scene the way her parents had in New York City.

This is a quick-hit book and a fun read. I spend a lot of time with memoirs considering why I should want to read this person’s story. I mean, this is just one woman’s food memoir. We’ve all got one: My mom rotated through the same five dishes every week and then after I went to college got creative and started making awesome foods. I learned to cook by honing vegan recipes. That’s mine. Done. But Knisley doesn’t have to sell anyone. She’s so descriptive and earnest that it makes for a completely charming story.
Profile Image for Sesana.
5,013 reviews348 followers
April 26, 2013
This is absolutely not the book to read on an empty stomach. Relish is all about the love of food, and it's infectious. It's a very loose memoir, written as a graphic novel. So it isn't a strict timeline, covering every event in her life. Just the ones touched by food. And being the daughter of foodie parents, with a mother who runs an upscale catering business, there's been a lot of food, very good food, and from a very early age.

But it isn't just good food. Knisley can write just as lovingly about a McDonalds french fry as a plate of freshly sauteed mushrooms. As she writes, people eat junk food because it's delicious, and because it hits a craving, for fat or salt or just for something familiar. (See Knisley breakfasting in Rome on a Big Mac and fries, while her father watches in horror.) That she can endorse canned croissants a few pages after raving over a Venetian croissant filled with apricot jam makes the whole book way more accessible than it could have been.

The people here are stylized, somewhat cartoony, but they're also quite expressive, in both body language and facial expressions. The food is also stylized, but a little less so. It's detailed enough to obviously be what it's meant to be. There's also a lot of recipes, bookending every chapter. They're all conversationally written and broken down into illustrated steps. Very few cookbooks do this, but I love to see what I'm supposed to be doing at every step. And it's delicious, fairly simple food: sauteed mushrooms, chocolate chip cookies, pasta carbonara... I'm hungry now.

This is the sort of book that people who love food and who love reading about food will like. I tend to judge these sorts of books on how hungry it made me. After reading Relish, I was desperate for some really good baked goods. Pretty high praise, for a book about food.
Profile Image for Brown Girl Reading.
342 reviews1,604 followers
May 25, 2013
I picked this graphic novel up not really knowing what to expect and truly loved it. It's a trip down Lucy Knisley's memory lane with food. She brilliantly explores all types of cuisine and each chapter ends in a recipe. There's an in-depth blog review over at http://didibooksenglish.wordpress.com.... Worth the read if you like reading books that talk about food and life.
Profile Image for Carol.
822 reviews477 followers
April 28, 2015
Truly enjoyed the bits about food, cooking, recipes and family. Wish it had been all that. As an artist and food lover, a graphic memoir seems the right vehicle to explore her enjoyment of both.

My favorite panel depicts a large group of people sitting around a table sharing a meal. The caption reads "I love the treat and pleasure of eating when it becomes an act of focused giving and sharing."
Profile Image for Diz.
1,509 reviews84 followers
October 8, 2018
This series of autobiographical comics is a love letter to food. After reading this I really felt like eating something nice. There are some recipes included as well, so you can try your hand at cooking some of the featured foods.
Profile Image for Anne Bogel.
Author 6 books50.6k followers
Read
January 17, 2023
This utterly delightful graphic memoir the story of Knisley's coming of age in the kitchen, surrounded by good food and people who love it, and love her. I don't read many graphic memoirs, but this one feels as though it was tailor-made for me, combining so many elements I love: a family story, cooking and craft, New York City, finding your way, and good food. Because we've visited some of the places that appear in the book, my whole family enjoyed passing this around the dining room table, enjoying the stories together.

Modern Mrs Darcy Book Club read this graphic food memoir as a bonus book club pick and then hosted a What Should I Read Next-style live event with Lucy. I’m glad we got to share the audio in What Should I Read Next #270: When you NEED a season of low-stress reading.
Profile Image for Ancita☆ .
235 reviews18 followers
June 22, 2022
I have recently been craving a lot of food. And, I've also been experiencing reading slump.

So, I took to reading Graphic novels (my savior in moments such as these) and there could not have been a better choice than this story where the author takes us though a joyride of food.

Memories are made of so many places, people and other stuff. Lucy, however, convinces us that food in several places and with different people is the binding factor to a stellar collection of one.

Not surprisingly (because I have read other books by her), what an utter delight of a memoir this turned out to be! It made me hungry for the deliciousness, that is home cooked, fresh & warm food.

A memorable piece of work, and nothing less.
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,027 followers
April 25, 2014
Well now I've seen everything - a foodie graphic novel memoir? Check!

This is a fun read with great art, about Lucy Knisley's childhood as the child of foodies back when food culture was just kicking off in NYC. Each chapter also includes a recipe, illustrated with the same art that populates the graphic novel. It's cute and vibrant and makes you want to pull up a chair to her kitchen.

I loved the little part at the end where she included actual pictures from her childhood, to demonstrate that all of it was grounded in fact!

The section that includes chocolate chip cookies had a little bit that made me smile because I saw myself in it - she compares her personality to her Mom's as far as being able to bake. Her Mom's cookies were always perfect, and her cookies were always flawed:
"My baking is too emotional, too volatile with distress, to ever match Mom's cookie perfection. But my cookies contain the anxious deliciousness earned through an afternoon spent in turmoil, soothed by separating my troubles into warm crispy pieces.
I'm fairly certain anyone who bakes for emotional release will understand that one!

It seems crazy to talk about this graphic novel without at least one image, so here is one of the two pages with the Huevos Rancheros recipe.


The author/artist also posts sketches and other fun things over on her Tumblr.
Profile Image for Xueting.
262 reviews121 followers
July 16, 2016
Food + illustrations + memoir = totally my kind of book!!!!!

Not only are the illustrations and coloring so gorgeous to make me hungry whenever I read this, Lucy Knisley's storytelling skills and amazing experiences make this a super enjoyable read! Very hilarious and very imaginative. Love it!! :) gonna go get some food now....
Profile Image for Stacey (prettybooks).
500 reviews1,548 followers
August 24, 2014
I first came across this foodie graphic memoir when I saw that it had been nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award in 2013. I love books and I love food, so I added it to my wishlist straight away. It wasn't until last month that I finally got around to buying it, after a trip to Gosh! Comics with Debbie. We had never visited Gosh! before (neither of us have read many graphic novels or comics) and were looking forward to it. We loved the huge curated display table as soon as you set foot through the door, and this is where we found Relish (Debbie bought Friends with Boys ). We both definitely want to go back, especially because the staff were super friendly.

I loved Relish as soon as I started reading it. It's 29-year-old Lucy's graphic memoir of growing up surrounded by food and food lovers, from her chef mum's home cooking to exotic foodie adventures on trips abroad – what food means to her and what food she particularly loves, and what memories they bring back. She says, 'I can remember exactly the look and taste of a precious honey stick, balanced between my berry-stained fingers, but my times tables are long gone, forgotten, in favour of better, tastier memories'. Lucy's drawings are wonderful and colourful – an exquisite mix of food writing and delicious illustrations. You can't really ask for more.

I relate to her because she's a foodie, but not a food snob. She love artisan bread and good quality chocolate, but she won't say no to McDonald's or a packet of Oreos. ('We wouldn't be eating it if it didn't taste good'). She writes so eloquently, but clearly, showing us how memories of food are memories of growing up, and how tasting all the different flavours – from home and from other cultures – is like no other experience. I craved so many different kinds of food while reading Relish, including food I've never even tried (where can I find a tomatillo or honey sticks?). At the end of each chapter, there's an easy-to-follow tasty recipe to make one of the foods featured in that chapter, such as the best chocolate chip cookies and sushi rolls. It was perfect for bedtime reading and it made me want to pick up more graphic novels – and eat more food!

I can't wait to pick up her travelogue, French Milk , next and her new book, An Age of License A Travelogue , is published in September.

I also reviewed this book over on Pretty Books.
Profile Image for Melissa Chung.
903 reviews325 followers
March 27, 2016
My favorite graphic novel of the weekend. I loved every panel, page and recipe. I actually feel like crying because even though this book isn't actually emotional. I feel emotional having reached its end.

Some people remember things from the past through smell. A perfume, a shampoo, maybe even the smell of cigars. Some people can pick out memories through positive and negative experiences. In the case of Lucy Knisley, she remembered her childhood through food. I really enjoyed reading stories from when she was a kid...helping her mom in the garden or gallivanting a Mexican city, parent-less with her best-friend.

Each chapter consisted of a precise memory of Lucy's childhood either on vacation with her dad or living in New York with her mom. She even has a nice stay in Chicago during her college years were she too became a cheese monger like her mother. Every story made me relive some of my past memories with my family. My grandma is the foodie in the family and would fix crazy extravagant Thanksgiving feasts consisting of not your typical American dishes. She would throw in lasagna and enchiladas. Sometimes we would have adobo or beef stroganoff along side the Turkey and mashed potatoes. No one complained. We loved the food and would be forced into second helpings.

Once you reached the end of the chapter Lucy skillfully weaves in a recipe from either the story just told or one she just needed to share. I love recipe books and I love to cook. I'm still a novice, but I love making food and having people enjoy them.

Not only was the book heartwarming with the sentimentality of family life, the illustrations are wonderful. I wholeheartedly enjoyed everything about this graphic novel.
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