Books about food are everywhere nowadays. Whether it’s fiction, non-fiction, memoir, or a more academic observance, books about noms run the gamut and tantalize us from our nightstands, backpacks, and library shelves. Imagine my delight when I picked up my first comic about food, French Milk, by Lucy Knisley. To Knisley’s credit, the book is also a fine travel memoir chronicling six weeks she spent in France, and it’s full of humor and charm. In short, a home run for this reader.
I’m consistently fascinated by our emotional connections to food. A whiff of gravy or a tongue taste of pumpkin pie can send us reeling into our pasts whether it’s a fleeting return to childhood, a trip abroad, or any number of other memorable moments. Knisley did such a great job illustrating this idea with her words and images in French Milk, there was no way I could help falling in love with comics involving food. Her follow up to French Milk, the full-color rumination on growing up with foodie parents, Relish: My Life in the Kitchen, was even better. Beautifully drawn, beautifully written, and a gorgeous book all around, it’s worth owning. And there are recipes!
Casting the net a little wider recently, I grabbed Bryan Lee O’Malley’s newest graphic novel, Seconds. This is my first foray into foodie fiction in comics form, and it was just as delectable as Knisley’s books. Seconds combines elements of magic and fine dining for a whimsical literary combo platter. The story follows Katie, a young chef determined to open her own restaurant. When she has the opportunity for a redo on some big life decisions, things quickly spin out of control. O’Malley’s illustrations really push this one over the top. The candy-colored artwork and cuteness of it all won me over in an instant, though that’s not meant to downplay the moral lessons and subtly nuanced themes in this one.
While I’m not an expert on web comics, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a blog and a web comic for you right about here.
Cooking Up Comicswas created by Alisa Harris, and it’s a blog/web comic about vegetarian cooking. Harris updates the recipes weekly, and they are beautifully illustrated from start to finish. While the creator has some other projects on the go, the recipe posting has slowed down, but it’s completely worthwhile to explore the recipe index for something to feast your eyes on and to add to your weekly meal plan.
Rutabaga: Adventure Chef is a web comic by Eric Fuerstein (aka, Eric Colossal Beast), which is updated on Mondays and Wednesdays. It chronicles the adventures of a man named Rutabaga who is sick of cooking with the same old ingredients. The series begins with him finding an ancient magical sword (think Sword in the Stone), but he’s really only interested in the rare mushrooms that grow on top of it. Throw in one sidekick named Pot (he’s a pot), some magical creatures, and a lot of adventure, and you’ll waste more time reading at work than you intended. Ummm, trust me.
Comics about food is a slippery rabbit hole to fall into, but there’s hardly anything more pleasurable. Food + comics = heaven. Go out and treat your senses and your imagination to one of these winners.