Comics food blogs are a relatively new and already wildly popular phenomenon in the francophone world. Guillaume Long’s À Boire et à manger [“Eat and Drink”] to cite the biggest success story, is now a featured blog on France’s leading daily newspaper Le Monde’s website, Lemonde.fr, and was just published in book-form by Gallimard this past January. I love the anecdotal quality of Long’s blog entries and especially love his self-deprecating, and deliciously cruel, kitchen humor. Nearly all of his entries include recipes that anyone could pick up and use (I had a lot of fun making his Poulet de Bresse recipe) but the real appeal of his food blog––and, I think, comics food blogs in general––is the way in which his recipes are always contextualized through personal anecdotes, childhood memories, dinner party stories, and the like. When cooking is contextualized, as Long and other French comics food bloggers do, as part of the fabric of one’s everyday life, without pretensions to Martha Stewart-level perfection, it appears much less intimidating. In an interview, when Long was asked if his goal was to democratize cuisine, his response was “my main goal with À boire et à manger is to show that when one finds pleasure in cooking –– which is really within reach for anyone who has a bit of common sense –– the result on the plate is rarely disappointing. Cooking is stupidly simple sometimes, like when you take a tomato, cut it and drizzle olive oil on it, salt and pepper it, and tear a couple basil leaves on top of it: you get one of the best salads in the world, for tomato fans at least.”
Some other comics food blogs I’ve been keeping up with include Pas de pression, que de la passion [“No pressure, just passion”] which is maintained by four friends, Julien, Marc Ant’, Cécile et Clément, who embark on cooking projects collectively and then sketch, each from his/her own perspective and style, comics panels narrating the endeavor. I am in love with the nonsensical humor and weird monster-obsessed visual aesthetic of Lisbouche, Lison Bernet’s graphic blog that features frequent food stories and recipes [Bernet’s blog title monstrously melds her name with the word “mouth”]. Less anecdotal and slightly too far on the fussy end of the Martha Stewart continuum for me, but nonetheless very well illustrated, there is also Tambouille, kept by a pair of best friends, Christelle et Clothilde. I should also mention the recent publication of Christophe Blain’s En Cuisine avec Alain Passard (May, 2011), although not a blog. Blain, who is best known for his Isaac the Pirate series, wrote the book after shadowing famous French chef Alain Passard (owner of the three-star restaurant L’Arpège) during a two year period documenting Passard’s passionate project to restore vegetables the “dignity and nobility they deserve.”
Although I do think that video is one of the best formats for teaching people how to cook, especially with dough-making and other processes that require the cook to develop a feel to the touch, the format of a graphic fixed sequential narrative seems like a great way to demystify cooking and make the process of preparing quality food feel accessible to the untrained home cook. It seems to me that a recipe in comics for enables readers to visualize the relationship between the ingredients and the final product more easily and helps them develop a sense for the sequence without the clutter of too much prose.
Are there any comics that have made you hungry? Is the medium a good way to teach people how to cook? Are comics food blogs a uniquely francophone phenomenon or are there English-language comics food blogs as well?