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Read of the Week: Relish

Lucy Knisley, author, illustrator, and adventure seeker, is now in her late twenties and has a lot to write about. Her memoir, Relish: My Life in the Kitchen, focuses on her adolescent years when all she wanted was to find a way to mix her two passions, drawing and cooking, to create something that would make her happy. From traveling to Japan and trying the most ludicrous ingredients (all deliciously and disgustingly portrayed in her vivid drawings), or learning to relate to her parents through cooking and gardening, Knisley acknowledges the best parts of being a teen (getting to travel around the world free of most responsibilities) and some of the worst (oh, those sometimes super embarrassing parents).

It’s funny how one book could make me so hungry (and inspired) that I immediately whipped up a batch of chocolate chip cookies using, naturally, the recipe Knisley so generously provides in her memoir. With each chapter being a new food adventure that encapsulates Knisley’s life growing up with chef parents, this graphic novel is fun and authentic. To be honest, I can’t think of anything much better than awesome illustrations and drool-worthy descriptions of food combined, and her story entwines them perfectly.

Best of all, Knisley gives an insider’s perspective of the food industry and why, despite the stereotypes, young and old Americans can and will appreciate the awesomeness that is food; both fatty and healthy, savory and sweet, pretty and ugly. Considering that Knisley learned how to shuck an oyster at the age of four, her first recipe in the book is about butterflying and marinating a piece of lamb, and her first illustration is of her as a baby eating a wedge of brie,  I’d say her perspective is both unique and refreshing. Knisley covers it all and tells it the only way she knows how. From those burgeoning years of moving from teenage-dom to early adulthood, her chapters are outlined with food and bursting with heart and humor. Foodie or not, you’ll be satisfied with this read.

You can place a hold on the book in the Deerfield Public Library catalog right now. If you have to wait, be sure to check out “You Might Also Like These…” at the bottom of the catalog page.

This review was previously published by the Deerfield Review.

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