BooksNew & NowIllustrationsThe PigletKorean CookingThe 2017 Piglet

Is a Comic Book Cookbook a Good Idea?

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More and more, comic strips have been finding a place in cookbooks (Eater said so, so it must be true, right?). Just last year, for instance, we saw the publication of The Adventures of Fat Rice, a 2017 Piglet contender with "wok comics" throughout. As the authors told us, "we used sequential art or comic panels in conjunction with the recipes to give the user a quick reference point, since wok cookery tends to be over high heat and quickly paced."

This Cookbook Has Comics, Grandmas, and Pig’s Ears
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This Cookbook Has Comics, Grandmas, and Pig’s Ears

And then there's the comic-heavy Cook Korean!: A Comic Book with Recipes, which you picked as a Piglet Community Pick.

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In terms of whether the comics helped or hurt the cooking, you had mixed opinions—more on that, and what you adored regardless of the format, right here:

what comics can do for cookbooks

Photo by Bobbi Lin

Generally, reviewers enjoyed the drawings because they made following recipes and techniques easy and fun. And the structure of a novel wasn't lost on our readers, either.

"The drawings make it really easy to get into Korean cuisine."

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"The graphic novel laid out recipes for me in ways that made me feel comfortable and that I could do them....AND I DID."

"The comic book layout provides a no-nonsense approach to begin Korean cooking and is helpful for explaining step-by-step preparations for each recipe, ingredient identification (and substitutes), and interesting facts about the culture."

"This book is a uniquely moving mixture of recipes and culture, through which Robin Ha shares her relationship to food, home, and family—through the medium of comic book art. Its freakin' BRILLIANT!"

Photo by Bobbi Lin

Comic skeptics

One reviewer said that the drawings initially made her think the book would be silly—and not full of high-quality recipes. Here's what other community reviewers had to say:

"You definitely need to give your eyes some time to adjust to all the colors and illustrations in this book. It's fun to read all the little comments, but it could be a little hard to use if you're just looking for straight recipes. She provides the ingredients in a list, but the recipe steps are provided in comic form."

"Many people enjoy photos so they can have a photo to mimic/aspire their dish to. While the illustrations are fun and cute, it could be hard to use as a reference to what your final dish should look like."

How to Make Bibimbap Without a Recipe

How to Make Bibimbap Without a Recipe by Posie Harwood

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The Best Korean Barbecue You've Ever Tasted!

The Best Korean Barbecue You've Ever Tasted! by Sarah D

THE BOOK’S STRENGTHS

Regardless of the comic-book format, reviewers came away with appreciating Ha’s personal stories and her incorporation of old and new Korean cooking traditions.

"I love that she includes cultural and historical tidbits about Korea (e.g. an illustrated map of where different dishes were developed) and includes helpful, illustrated tips on things that might normally scare people off (like how to use dried anchovies in a broth)." 

"She keeps the recipes traditional in flavors, which I so appreciate! It feels like her recipes are like the ones my mom would use. I also like that she provides variations, though—for instance, she mentions that most people use pears to sweeten their barbecue marinades but she uses kiwis."

"It is an absolute gem of a find and fills your brain up with tidbits of Korean joy! I thoroughly loved making the dishes and would heartily recommend this book to anyone!"

"Robin's stories of her relationship with her mother are also charming and endearing. As a fellow Asian American daughter of immigrants, it struck a close and heartwarming chord with me."

2017's roster of Piglet Community Picks were chosen by an open call to our community; the reviews you see here are from some of the folks who voted these books into the tournament. To see other Piglet Community Picks reviews, head here.

Cook Korean!: A Comic Book with Recipes is available wherever books are sold.

Tell us: Do you think you'd enjoy cooking from a comic book?

The Piglet Tournament of Cookbooks is Here!

Tags: 2017 Piglet Community Picks