Relish: My Life in the Kitchen, by Lucy Knisley

Relish

by 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.”(via Goodreads)

relish

Is it possible for me to review Relish without mentioning my own food-related memories? I have good ones (helping Mom make paella in her Spanish paella pan that’s older than I am) and bad ones (my brother sneaking such a liberal helping of wasabi onto my salmon-and-bagel sandwich as a kid that I still can’t stand the taste of it with sushi). Really, though, I just have a ton of food memories in general, because I think about food A Lot. Okay, basically all the time. It’s one of my great joys in life besides reading and sleeping, and if I could somehow tuck Relish under my pillow and absorb Lucy’s charming food-related memories through magical sleep osmosis, it would be my Bible.

Relish is episodic in nature, illustrating vignettes from the author’s life–her family’s Easter gatherings, her time working in a cheese shop, a trip to France and the croissants scarfed there–and some readers may find the fare a little light, but I found it perfectly tasty. (Ugh, okay. I’ll stop. I promise.) I feel like her illustration game is only getting better with time; the faces are simple but expressive, the colors are gorgeous. My food-loving roots aren’t as illustrious as hers (no professional chefs in my family, just a great cook of a mother who came from a family where they carved up the Thanksgiving turkey with a cadaver knife), but this is a case of the specific becoming universal. Anybody who’s fond of cooking and/or eating–and if you’re not, why did you pick this up?–will connect with the familiarity of the warm feelings that come off the page.

Well, that’s not wholly true. The book might alienate, say, folks who are against foie gras and the process of its creation, something I’m not personally comfortable with myself. It’s not the kind of book that really looks critically at eating habits and the impact that they have, globally or environmentally, and the author owns her love of goose liver. I don’t believe it’s particularly harmful in that way either, though, so that’s not the hill I’m gonna die on. That’s just not the book it is.

Overall, Relish is sweet and funny and pretty, and includes some recipes if you’re willing to give butterflied leg of lamb a go. I’ve only read the galley version of it, so I’m looking forward to having a bright, shiny copy of the real thing in my hands soon enough. You can read the first chapter here, and Relish will be out on April 2–a week and a half is plenty of time to go preorder it or look at her tour schedule, don’t you think? (I’m serious about that last one. Guys, she got special clothes made to match her book cover for the tour. Are you kidding me? I have to see that dress in person. Or the tunic, I’m not picky. GET IT? PICKY? I’ll go now.)

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Strip Search: Episode 1

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illustration of the contestants by Lexxy Douglass

In case you hadn’t heard, a month or two ago the Penny Arcade guys filmed a reality competition show, Strip Search, with a handful of cartoonists, and the first episode is live today! I have mixed feelings about Penny Arcade and its creators, but I am a big fan of Erika Moen, who is one of the contestants, and I’m wholeheartedly ready to cheer her toward victory. (I’m also exited to learn more about the other contestants! You know, so I can boo them and stuff.) Go watch! If you need some convincing, watch the trailer:

DAMN GIRL THAT STYLE IS FAT

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I know I’ve mentioned Aimee Fleck around here before, but I don’t think I mentioned a recent zine of hers, DAMN GIRL THAT STYLE IS FAT. As you might have grasped from the title, it’s a short illustrated guide to dressing up for fat women, and is completely great. I’m straight-sized and I loved it–the illustrations are gorgeous and I think a lot of the advice is solid for plus-sized and straight-sized people.

The zine, which you can buy on Gumroad, is only available digitally, but here’s the great part: she’s working on a book-sized version that will be in print. It will be available to pre-order soon, and I’m already looking forward to my copy. I may even buy two and do a giveaway, so keep your eyes peeled!

Lucy Knisley’s Relish Tour Dates Announced!

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image by Lucy Knisley

Lucy Knisley just announced the tour dates for her newest book, Relish, which will be released at the beginning of April! There are a bunch of San Francisco dates and I am so there, you guys. Like food? Like comics? Go go go! (I actually read a galley of it several months ago, so watch for a review soon. Looking forward to owning a print copy of it like nobody’s business!)

Short Story Wednesday

I wrote these short almost non-reviews on my challenge page, but I wanted to give them their own post for Short Story Wednesday, too!

1) The Lottery by Shirley Jackson (1/7/12) – First, just go read it so we can talk about it like civilized people. I mean it, young person! It’s less than 4000 words so it won’t take long. Okay. You’ve read it, right? I really don’t want to spoil it for you. Alright. I don’t actually have a lot to say about it. The creepiest thing is that there’s absolutely no reason given for the lottery. My friend, Leah, who linked it to me, mentioned the Hunger Games, so I didn’t have a growing realization that the lottery wasn’t a happy thing – I pretty much knew it all along. But still. No justification. No religious fertility rite, no making the masses compliant. Just nothing. The Wikipedia page on the story is worthwhile – go read that, too. :P

2) Kolkata Sea by Indrapramit Das (1/10/12) – This story is very short, just over a thousand words, so there’s not a lot for me to say. This future could easily be a dystopia, right? But Das just shows people getting on, which is, imho, how it’s all going to go down. People get on.

I also read Farm 54 this week, which is a graphic novel that is basically comprised of three short stories, so I’m going to include that (which I wrote about on its challenge page), too.

1) Farm 54 by Galit and Gilad Seliktar – This book takes place from the mid? 1970s to the late 1980s and is a semi-autobiographical account of Galit’s growing up in Israel. The main character, Noga, deals with love, sex, a lot of death, and a couple of other themes that I’m having a hard time placing. There’s a strange… Noga doesn’t feel like she has too much agency – perhaps because she is looking back on her life? Maybe because, though she is looking back at her own life, she doesn’t do a lot of introspecting, doesn’t explain why she did what she did. The whole book is very sparse, though that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Intro Meme

Mia and Jessica, checking in, heroically waking up at 5:30 am.

Jessica
1)Where are you reading from today? Last time Mia came to my house, so this time I came to Mia’s.
2)Three random facts about me… 1) The last time I awoke at 5:30 in the morn was… honestly, I don’t even know. 2) I love Mia’s three-legged cat, Flat Tire. 3)  I am…tired.
3)How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours? I’ve got 10 books to choose from: one picture book, one middle grade, three young adult, three adult SF&F, one graphic novel, and one nonfiction book. And, of course, Rain.
4)Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)? I think we’re both going for as close to 24 hours as we can.
5)If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, any advice for people doing this for the first time? Don’t be afraid to put something down and pick something new up. Even if you’re the type to only read one thing at a time, the read-a-thon is not a time to be book-monogamous.

Mia
1)Where are you reading from today? My new house! How peachy.
2)Three random facts about me… 1. I do not like peppermint tea. 2. That is why I’m drinking chocolate chai instead. 3. I am very tired as well.
3)How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours? Nine. Two short story collections, two graphic novels, three SF&F, one YA, and, as Jessica said, Rain. The interminable Rain.
4)Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)? We! Could! Go! All! The! Way!
5)If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, any advice for people doing this for the first time? Fortify yourself with food and drink, and never give up, never surrender.

Chew

A short one: Chew, written by John Layman and illustrated by Rob Guillory, is a graphic novel about a certain Mr. Tony Chu, cibopath.  That’s right, Chu gets psychic impressions from whatever he puts his mouth, whether it’s the growing and harvesting of wheat for bread or the slaughter of lambs for stew, he sees it all. And did I mention he’s a cop? His, uh, talent comes in handy as often as in comes in disgusting.

Chew is, as you might imagine, both very sick and quite hilarious. The art is beautiful, the writing top-notch, and the characters perfection, complete with an Asian main character! My one complaint? There are three female characters with lines, all of them minor (so far) and all of them sexy-bodied. If I couldn’t have more women with more importance, I would have at least liked to see some different body types, especially given the range of body types we see in the numerous male characters. *sigh*