Comics delight me to my core and cooking soothes my soul. So I loved Dirt Candy, a graphic novel that serves as both accessible cookbook and charming memoir, before I even owned it.
How brilliant of Chef Amanda Cohen, co-author Grady Hendrix, and artist Ryan Dunlavey to combine the two arts of cookery and comics! Illustrated recipes and techniques can be far more effective with images than in text alone—when Cohen explains how to easily smoke vegetables on my stovetop without fancy equipment, the set-up and technique feels within my grasp. And the apparent magic of a fast-moving chef’s knife translates perfectly to the bam!pow! excitement of a comic book layout. (I’m not alone in this belief—check out Anthony Bourdain’s graphic novel Get Jiro in which a sushi chef turns action hero.)
Dirt Candy made a zealot out of me. Not only was I on a mission to make my vegetables more interesting, I was a comics/cookery proselytizer. “The market is ripe for practical non-fiction in my comic shop!” I cried far and wide. “Let there be graphic novels for cocktails next! Try this spring pea flan I made!” Dirt Candy occupies such a tremendously unique niche that I fervently hope similar works follow.
Fans of good food (creative vegetable-based cuisine in particular) and good comics have the chance to hear Cohen and Hendrix talk on Sunday, Sept. 22 from 3-4pm at Omnivore Books in San Francisco. In her blog, Cohen calls it “the East Coast/West Coast Peace and Harmony Let’s Stop Hating Each Other And Eat Vegetables Instead Tour” and promises “I’ll be talking about cooking vegetables, eating vegetables, running a restaurant, graphic novels, why no one can find a line cook in Manhattan anymore, AND there will be free food for everyone.”