Luchie (as illustrator and cartoonist Lucie Bryon likes to call herself) was apparently blessed with extremely large eyes as a child. In pictures of herself as an adult, she has extremely large glasses. Although she writes in convincing idiomatic English, she is a Francophone, and this may be why the expression ‘eyes larger than your stomach’ doesn’t crop up in Food Baby. Or it may be that they’re not: she is clearly, after all, very keen on food.
This is a food book: a collection of illustrated recipes and short comics about food. It’s not all fancy and intimidating though, as Luchie is not a kitchen professional, but an enthusiastic young amateur, cooking with a limited budget and facilities. These are her experiences of food, and some of the things that she cooks, presented with charm, humour and nerdy cuteness. It’s pretty easy to see that these recipes and ideas will mostly be delicious, although I have to admit I have yet to try any of them except the yoghurt and tahini salad dressing (nom), and they’re all quite straightforward—it’s an ideal cookbook for students, and other yoof fending for themselves for the first time.
This is especially the case because Luchie doesn’t just like easy-to-cook things, she also loves vegetables, tofu, garlic and all the good things that can easily be the healthy delicious staples of the novice cook’s diet, but which usually aren’t. ‘The science says: Garlic is good in EVERYTHING’ she accurately informs the reader in her ‘Pimp My Ramen’ section. She also shares my growing enthusiasm for Greek yoghurt, so we’re clearly on the same page.
Food Baby is a very slim, staple-bound volume, published as a one-shot comic by ShortBox. As such there’s only so much she could cram in, but she manages to make it a kind of schematic memoir as well a collection of recipes and funnies. It opens with a prologue, in which she recounts her introduction to the pleasures of food as a child (no spoilers, but it’s a very specific moment), and at points throughout the book we meet her dad (who thinks hummus may be made of eggs), and a young bloke with a beard who appears to be her partner. We get a slight sense of Lucie Bryon having a life, and making the enjoyment of food an important part of it. The concluding narrative section isn’t remotely autobiographical however, but a series of short, hilarious, surreal comics featuring eggs as characters.
Luchie uses an appealing, funky style of drawing in this book, that can be scribbly or neat depending on the needs of the moment, but which always displays the illustrative virtues of clarity and accessibility. Heavy outlines and bright colours make her pages bold and striking, and some of my favourite spreads are those with displays of ingredients and other objects. It was also a good call to put herself in a bowl of ramen on the cover, as ramen can contain such variety of interesting looking stuff that it’s a gift to an illustrator—although I’ve never found a young woman with enormous glasses and an egg on her head in mine.