Lucy Knisley’s “Relish” Explores a Lifelong Celebration of Food
With the release of both the French and German language editions of her latest book, and the author’s announcement of two new books in the works, it seems like as good a time as any to introduce you all to the delightful autobiographical comics of Lucy Knisley.
A veteran of Internet comics and self-publishing, Lucy Knisley’s work almost exclusively deals with real-life events, recounting stories from her childhood, family history, world travels, and more. She first struck out on the scene with French Milk, the account of a month-long trip to Paris with her mother in 2007. Since then Knisley’s work has received multiple accolades and she has risen to literary prominence with the release of her self-described “food memoir,” Relish: My Life in the Kitchen through First Second Books.
Relish serves as a perfect introduction to both the autobio comics genre (utilized by authors such as Alison Bechdel and James Kochalka) and to Knisley herself, detailing her growth from infant to adult as the child of a chef and a gourmand. The book is split into chapters, each relating an event or series of events in Knisley’s life that contributed to her development, as well as the people, and of course foods, that have flavored her experiences.
The stories range widely, from a whimsical detour in a Venetian bakery to an embarrassing escapade with a flock of geese, but they are always tinged with self-awareness and nostalgia, and given an extra dash of warmth by Knisley’s fun and colorful illustrations. Included with each chapter is an illustrated recipe that will leave you hungry and aching to cook (I’ve tried most of them myself and can attest to their deliciousness). Funny, contemplative, and deeply personal, Relish: My Life in the Kitchen is one of my favorite books from the past year, and I eagerly await whatever new projects Lucy Knisley has cooking.