Monday, March 6, 2017

Book Review - Relish by Lucy Knisley

This graphic memoir is made up of vignettes and stories from the life of artist and foodie Lucy Kinsley.  Whether it's her time spent helping her chef mother on catering jobs, traveling around Europe with her food snob father, or forging her own culinary world as a college student in Chicago, Lucy shares how food and family have influenced her life.   

For a reader who is a food/cooking novice, there are stories and characters with whom you'll immediately sympathize.  One of Lucy's college friends, learning to cook for the first time, makes a barely-edible concoction called Lemonade Chicken, involving basting chicken with frozen lemonade concentrate.  It ends up becoming an inside joke between them, and something that bonded their friendship for years to come.

For a reader who is experienced with foods and cooking, especially the farm-to-table/locavore movement, there are stories and character's with whom you'll connect as well.  Lucy's mother, after divorcing her father, moves upstate New York and makes the most of it by growing a spectacular kitchen garden.  She works with local farmers and producers, and together they make the Rhinebeck region a destination for those interested in artisan food products made by skilled culinary and agricultural craftspeople.  Her mother also is shown whipping up all kinds of interesting creations in the kitchen, and Lucy devouring just about all of it.  She gives her daughter an appreciation of good food, but also of the pride in making food yourself.

Overall, this is a really fun and insightful memoir of a life in and around food.  In addition to the interesting stories Lucy shares, she provides recipes for many of the foods she describes.  I'm especially interested in making the masala chai concentrate, which looks spicy and delicious.  I would recommend not reading this book on an empty stomach, because you'll definitely want a snack before it's over.