Daily Graphic Novel Recommendation 19

Relish: My Life In The Kitchen

by Lucy Knisley
Genre notes: food, memoir
173 pages
ISBN: 1596436239 (Amazon)

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. 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 a dinner of 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. When I read this in 2014, I hadn’t been this exuberant about a reading experience in a while. There are better, thicker, more challenging works available, but that hardly matters. Relish is that much fun.

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.

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