I love food. Growing it, cooking it, eating it, sharing it with friends. I also love to read, so it should come as no surprise that when I came across Lucy Knisley’s graphic memoir Relish: My Life in the Kitchen I knew I had to have it. I picked up a signed edition at a conference, and Knisley had drawn a fork with an olive stuck on it on the title page, next to her name.
I’ve been taken with the graphic memoir form ever since I read Alison Bechdel’s Fun Homeyears ago as a student. I fell in love with the way that the text and images work together to tell a story, and the form’s ability to express a range of emotions and experiences. I felt like I had been missing out all this time, assuming comics were only about superheroes and villains, when in fact they are about all sorts of things, sometimes even people like me.
I identified with Knisley as a narrator immediately, as she shares chapters from her life through the lens of cooking and eating with family and friends. Each chapter of Relish contains an illustrated recipe, too, giving the book a deliciously interactive feel. Her mother is a skilled chef, thus Knisley’s memoir about food also becomes, ultimately, a memoir about family, and in particular, about the bonds between mothers and daughters, parents and children, and the ways that kitchens can bring us together.
Knisely herself is currently days away from giving birth to her first child, and has been sharing humorous snapshots of her sketchbook throughout her pregnancy, which you can see on her instagram account. Her next book, Kid Gloves, due out in 2018, will be a full fledged graphic memoir about her journey toward parenthood. (Read an excerpt here.) In the meantime, she’s written several other books you can check out while you wait. I particularly recommend French Milk, her first book, a travelogue detailing a six-week trip she took to Paris with her mother as a college student. Spoiler alert: she eats a lot of croissants, so you might want to read it at a bakery. Next, I plan to pick up a copy of Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride, which just came out this month.
It’s a delight to see how Knisley’s work has grown and changed from that first book until now, always keeping the same personable curiosity and wonder at its core.