food · Graphic Novel · memoir · Nonfiction

Relish by Lucy Knisley


Paperback, 192 pages
Published April 2nd 2013 by Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
Source: Raincoast Books

I read Knisley’s travel memoir French Milk and while I enjoyed it, I wasn’t bowled over by it because I thought it a bit too monotonous in tone for my taste. Relish, however, did win me over simply because it is about one of my first loves: food. I have noticed of late a burgeoning awareness among people to consider food as more than just fuel. I’m sure that this is nothing new and a specific group of people have always been concerned with the greater aspects of food but this awareness is now spreading. I feel like the advent of trends such as instagrammed pictures of food have led people to consider food in a new light and to consider their own relationships and enjoyment of food.

Relish is a food memoir. It records Knisley’s journeys through the years, paying special attention to the food she ate during these years that lingered in her mind.

I had a conversation with my mother recently and she was telling me how, when she was a little girl in Fiji, her mother would cook hot rice and pour the masala from the mango pickles she made on top of it and they would eat it together. Or the fresh and hot roti in the afternoons when she came back from school, three or so kilometers away traveled by foot. My grandmother passed away ages ago but a little taste of something is enough to bring my mom back to her childhood. For me, whenever I eat pineapple, I am the little girl on a sugarcane farm in Fiji again, shrieking happily with my cousins, the sunshine bursting.

Knisley records anecdotes about her life centered mainly around food. Her experiences with food, for example croissants in Venice and salmon in Vancouver, are interesting to read about. I also had fun reading about her chicken rearing experiences when she and her mother moved to the countryside; as someone who had the misfortune to have chicken feeding chores, I empathized completely. The book is frequently interrupted with recipes that do not pretend to be actual recipes but have a friendly tone to them – Knisley has tried these recipes and she has liked them and so she is passing them on to you, the reader.


The humour makes the novel enjoyable as does the awareness and reflection of the part food plays not just in our lives but in our relationship to our bodies. Especially, female bodies. I enjoyed this graphic novel quite a bit and recommend it to you, dear Readers.



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