A Life in Food 

Relish Gives Good Recipe, But That's It


I WANTED TO LIKE Lucy Knisley's Relish much more than I actually did. Despite clean, cheerful drawings and an upbeat tone, this little graphic novel about Knisley's life-long immersion in New York's food culture feels less like a memoir than a surface-level catalog of Lucy Knisley's Awesome Foodie Life.

Knisley was raised by food-loving parents immersed in New York City's then-nascent food scene, and she grew up around people whose lives, and livelihoods, revolved around food. She captures an interesting moment in New York's food scene (before a flood of culinary school grads professionalized the city's kitchens), but Relish is light on personal reflection and heavy on sentences like, "My mom would occasionally help cater big shoots for Annie Leibovitz, the famed photographer." Anecdotes about begging foie gras from guests' plates at a dinner party or trying to hail a cab in upstate New York all carry a slightly exhausting waft of self-satisfaction—like a beloved child repeating well-worn anecdotes from a family's cherished mythology.

The recipes at the end of each chapter are gems, clearly explained and cleverly illustrated—I'll be making a few batches of Knisley's sangria this summer—but if it's memoir Knisley wants to write, she needs to dig a lot deeper.

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