Lucy Knisley loves food – here she is, obsessing over croissants. Her fixation leads her to spend an entire week trying to perfect them in her own kitchen, but her efforts are doomed to failure. Why? Because when she ate them on the banks of a Venetian canal, watching the gondolas float by, the apricot jam croissants were only one element of an exciting and emotional multi-sensory experience.
She learned this for herself and writes about it in her delightful and amusing graphic memoir, Relish. But it was something I had already figured out, having spent an entire summer trying to cook the perfect Paella. I even had proper Spanish saffron which I purchased in Barcelona, but although my efforts were delicious, they never tasted authentic – because they weren’t eaten on a beach in Nerja, cooked by a man named Fred, in a frying pan the size of a double bed.
I used to write a cookery blog, but have a very complicated love-hate relationship with food – ranging from deliberate starvation to eating at very expensive international restaurants. Nowadays, cooking seems like a chore, but I love other people to cook for me. I even get a warm fuzzy feeling if someone makes me a cup of tea. This is one of my favourite baking efforts which my daughter and I named ‘moonbread’, because of the craters. I went through a phase of obsessively making my own bread using the ‘sponge starter’ method. I believe that I have some strange ability to kill yeast, so this no knead recipe is the only way for me to achieve baking success.
I’d love to write my own foodie travelogue in the style of Relish. Lucy Knisley’s trips to Mexico, Japan and Europe are lovingly described through her interactions with the local cuisine and are very interesting and entertaining. I once went to Mexico for the day, but the only thing I remember eating was an ice cream. The queue at the refreshment kiosk meant that we nearly missed our transport back to San Diego. We were actually booed by the other holidaymakers, as we boarded the coach to take us through immigration.
Relish made me long to travel – to places I’ve never visited such as Chicago and New York – and to revisit places from my past. At the moment, this can only be done via my memory…
Schnitzel washed down with Berliner Weisse next to the Berlin Wall… spaghetti with clams in a saffron sauce in St Marks Square, Venice… a rainbow sorbet with fortune cookies in a revolving restaurant somewhere in Florida…
Gosh, I’m hungry.