April 12, 2013
MarkBernstein.org
 
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Relish

by Lucy Knisely

A love-letter from a 20-something comic-book writer to her mother, couched as a book about cooking, eating, and coming-of-age. Knisely has a knack for expressive character drawing and a clever way with anecdote. Chapters are punctuated with two-page spreads that describe a recipe; these are neatly done and the recipes look reasonable; though she still believes the McGee-debunked myth that washed mushrooms get soggy, anyone who suggests serving a big bowl of sautéed mushrooms for dinner is fine in my book.

The most original chapter in this pean to tasty food is an intelligent piece on bad meals and on cooking for people who don’t really like to eat – two real problems that we seldom hear discussed.

The subject here – the confluence of food, family, and memory – could easily have collapsed into mere sentiment. What keeps Relish fresh is Knisely’s lively drawing, particularly her knack for sympathetic portraits of herself at various ages and her skill at drawing not the food, but the way people react to it.