Review: Comics Cookbook
Centrala: Central Europe Comics Art
Of the many things in life that trigger an irrational amount of rage in me (look, there’s a lot), poor recipe writing is one of them. I’m a foodie and a technical writer, so it only makes sense if you think about it. There’s a variety of assumptions that go into recipe writing: who is your reader and what is their level of experience, what does your reader have available to them, and how do you make the sensuous pleasure of food accessible to a wide audience (that’s a big concern of mine).
So you know now, Comics Cookbook isn’t a recipe book. Instead, the book has 93 “works” consisting of appetizers, salads, soups, main courses, side dishes, desserts, and drinks with a sprinkling of “abstracts” — which are one-page food-based comics. These works were completed by creators who wrote, drew, colored, and lettered their own comics for the sixth annual comics culture festival in Poland, and the creators come from five of the seven continents. It’s this combination of artistic works and cultural diversity that makes Comics Cookbook compelling.
Like I said earlier, these aren’t necessarily recipes, but if you (or someone you know) is a more advanced cook, then Comics Cookbook is more about inspiration, creativity, and satisfying your foodie fangirl. Further, as these works are from a selection of international creators, many of the ingredients may only be readily accessible to certain parts of the world. As someone who is pretty comfortable in the kitchen, I found a lot of inspiration in these pages, including an aubergine (that’s eggplant for the ‘Mericans) and chickpea curry. If you are less comfortable in the kitchen, well, Comics Cookbook is more about the comics and food as a concept as opposed to tangible sustenance. Some of the works have measurements, some mere suggestions, and some are about roasting rattlesnake over an open fire.
This means Comics Cookbook is really more of a comics experience. There’s a wide range of artistic styles and techniques that are a treat to look at and go back to. While some of the works have measurements, others have mere suggestions, and many have fun concepts tied to the creations. For example, a recipe for an apple pie by Aga Swietek is set in the Garden of Eden and features Adam, Eve, and Lucifer as serpent — it’s a fun and clever concept for something “as American as apple pie.”
But it’s because Comics Cookbook is a comics experience that the small size of the book, 148 x 210 mm (that’s 5.83 x 8.23 in. for us Americans still stuck on US customary units — do they still tell kids in high school that the U.S. will shift to the metric system?) is a bummer. This book would shine as a coffee table sized book — and enhance the experience of the works. Also, for the works that do include measurements, the font size can be difficult to read, and I have 20/20 vision. That being said, Centrala is a small press, and big books are expensive to produce.
Either way, Comics Cookbook is already on my bookcases reserved for cookbooks and books about food (yes, that’s cases plural because I love food writing, and cookbooks are like porn for me). Interested in satisfying your (or someone you know) comics and foodie love? Order a copy here.