For the Love of Food: Food-Centric Graphic Novels and Manga

Taste of Chicago is back in Grant Park from September 8-10, and what better way is there to get excited about food than with some food-centric graphic novels and manga? Food in graphic novels and manga spans a wide range of genres and topics.

Some books are illustrated cookbooks, while food plays a central role in advancing a story in others. There are a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books that blend food into their storylines in some unique ways, from slice-of-life manga to food-focused memoirs. Wherever your foodie interests lie, there are plenty of graphic novel and manga titles to choose from.

Fresh out of college and feeling the pressure to find their dream job, Ben Cook stumbles across a help wanted sign in a local restaurant after a slew of unsuccessful interviews. As an aspiring writer with no kitchen experience, Ben thinks this job is just temporary and decides to try it out. What happens when Ben discovers his passion for cooking? Chef's Kiss follows Ben on an unexpected journey of self-discovery filled with tantalizing dishes, kitchen mishaps and a little bit of romance too.

Author and illustrator Robin Ha is probably best known for her award-winning graphic memoir Almost American Girl, but did you know that she also wrote a comic cookbook? Cook Korean! springboards off Ha’s blog Banchan in Two Pages, featuring short step-by-step Korean recipes focusing on side dishes. This graphic novel cookbook expands on Ha’s dynamic illustration and storytelling technique, including dozens of recipes that are fun and easy to follow even for those new to Korean cuisine.

Award-winning Chicago-based comic creator Lucy Kinsley grew up surrounded by a family with a strong love of food. In her graphic memoir Relish, Kinsley recounts some of her "a-ha" moments and fond memories anchored by food. Illustrating what she calls taste-memories nestled within life stories from childhood to adulthood, her lively storytelling and drawing style is blended with recipes along the way. There are also plenty of great kitchen tips within the step-by-step cooking segments. This delicious read finishes with an afterword filled with photos that inspired Kinsley during her creative process.

The Delicacy is a unique foodie read with elements of true crime, suspense and the grotesque wrapped into the rise of a newly opened high-end London restaurant. Chef Danny and his brother Rowan have high ambitions that are propelled by their discovery of delectable mushrooms on their nearby farm. As they try to meet the rising demand for their new star ingredient, the two make a grotesque discovery about the origins of this mysterious fungi. This is a great read for those who want to read something food-focused with plenty of unexpected twists and turns.

Looking for another Chicago tie-in? Let's Make Dumplings! and Let's Make Ramen! are written by an author/illustrator duo with Chicago ties. Chicago chef Hugh Amano and Chicago illustrator Sarah Becan have joined creative forces twice now to make in-depth illustrated cookbooks that take a close look at two very delicious food types. Both titles include plenty of food stories, origin explorations and follow-along recipes. With colorful, detailed illustrations, these books are sure to leave you both inspired to cook and hungry.

Looking for more appetite-inspiring graphic novel and manga reads?  Check out this For the Love of Food: Food-Centric Graphic Novels and Manga booklist.  

What are some food-focused graphic novels and manga you would recommend? Let us know in the comments below.