Review: RELISH by Lucy Knisley

Confession time: I have a major soft spot for graphic novels. Whenever I feel like I am entering a reading slump, it usually helps for me to check out a graphic novel or comic from the library to get myself going again, because I often read them in one sitting.

I have been reading comics in some shape or another as long as I remember, from Donald Duck mags (yes that is a thing here in Denmark) to much darker comics that I should not have had access to at the age of 10, but there you go. Honestly I did not really start reading “real” books until I was 10 or 11 and even after that I kept going back to them because they felt like coming home. I am just a very visual person – a huge advantage when you work as a web and graphic designer – so I will always enjoy this form of telling a story and you might see me review graphic novels quite a lot on this blog.

With that out of the way: I found out about this graphic novel over a year ago and I have been waiting for it to show up at my library and it just did not happen. I would check at least once a week to see if it had arrived. Then for about a month I did not check and then one day I decided it was time to search the national database again, despite having very small hopes. And there it was. As an e-book. This was the first time I have checked out an e-book from the library and I read it in less than two days.

I find that I like Knisley’s art style, as it is simple, clean and pleasant to the eye, but the most amazing thing about this book is its depiction of food. The only reason I did not finish this in one sitting is that I got so hungry from the illustrated recipes at the end of each chapter that I had to stop or I would be insatiable for the rest of the day.

LOOK AT THIS THING! I want it in my belly!

Aside from that, Knisley also found a really good way to depict her life through a theme, because food is something we can all relate to in some way and we have our own traditions. I related quite a lot to her feeling like junk food was this forbidden treasure and go to comfort food because her parents had denied her for so long. My parents were not as pedantic with as hers, but they are quite into organic food and I did not get fast food that often except for our weekly tradition of pizza on Fridays. Because of this, McDonalds is my go to food when I am drunk; a cheap cheese burger or two when I have had some alcohol is just a must. Fries are my guilty pleasure food during that time of the month and once in a while I just need that kebab pita with creme fraiche dressing, because hhhnnng.
Also, I want to do the same thing as her mum: Move to a remote part of the country and raise chickens and grow my own produce. Despite living in a 2-room flat on the third floor, I already grow my own potatoes, herbs and such on my balcony and, now that the winter has kicked in, inside my flat – I am currently sprouting tomatoes, spinach and assorted herbs in a tiny greenhouse in my window and I have a chilli pepper plant and celery growing from some scraps in my kitchen. I guess that’s the organic self-sufficient tendencies on my mum’s side of the family showing itself.

Knisley finds a good balance in telling personal details about her life, entertaining the reader and presenting us with different food types. She is aware that she has a different background in regards to foods and she does not look down on people for not having the same experiences as her, she just wants to share them and present them to us so we can learn now.

Knisley’s episode with some aggressive geese

This was a delight to read, just a pure delight. Prepare to go into this whole-heartedly and relate with either Knisley herself or some of her family members. I do recommend you to eat before venturing into it, though, otherwise you will be fighting a rumbling stomach by chapter 3. A must-read for all fans of biographical graphic novels.


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