REVIEW: ‘To Drink and to Eat,’ Volume 2

Reading Time: 3 minutes

To Eat and to Drink Volume 2 - But Why Tho?

To Drink and to Eat Volume 2: More Meals and Mischief From a French Kitchen is a collection of cartoons from the mind, life, and culinary machinations of Guillaume Long, originally published in French in 2013 by Gallimard BD, translated to English by Sylvia M. Grove with art and writing by Long, colors by Céline Badarous Denizon and Long, and lettering by AndWorld Design’s DC Hopkins. Lion Forge/Oni Press publishes the English edition.

To Drink and to Eat Volume 2 is an odd collection of cartoon food-related vignettes and recipes. It’s a genius idea, basing interesting recipes around simple stories, but many of the stories fail to land. At least, for an English-speaking audience, they do. The stories range from random little comic strips to autobiographical storytelling from Long’s travels. They all have a Sunday morning funny pages feel to them. I appreciate the wry style of humor. However, some bits make me wonder if my not finding them funny is simply because the humor doesn’t translate well.

Some of the vignettes are hilarious. There is one where Long makes fun of his French accent while attempting to speak English. But there is one where he tries to imitate a Black woman’s southern accent, and it is just deeply uncomfortable. It was done in the context of self-recognition that he only ever draws white characters, and maybe in the original French, it wasn’t so off-putting. But here, it was rough, even bordering on racist. Beyond this one exceptionally uncomfortable instance, many of the short comics feel like their punch lines are like whoopie cushions: worthy of a “tee hee” but mostly just hot air.

I do love the art style, though. Everything is drawn and colored in a way that, while it looks nothing like Peanuts or Dilbert, gives me the same sort of familiar feeling that those newspaper strips always give with their simple lines and expressive characters. The colors are warmer than a typical comic strip, which is greatly welcome in a book about food and cooking.

The recipes in To Drink and to Eat Volume 2 are some of the best-illustrated recipes I have ever read. The illustrations themselves exceptionally clear as they step-by-step walk you through food preparation and cooking. Because they are part of short comic stories and not just stand-alone recipes, they are also explained in characters’ voices with effective humor. Yet, they remain clear and concise. Many of the recipes also include types of meat or vegetables typically underutilized, at least in French cuisine. It helps turn simple or mundane recipes into interesting but still simple, exciting food experiences.

The one issue with the recipes is that sometimes, the instruction misses significant steps. For example, in a recipe that includes bay leaves, there is a joke about leaving it in and choking, but never an instruction to remove it. Another recipe neglects to mention that you must rigorously clean leeks before cooking them, as they are typically caked in mud when bought at the store. Were I not a somewhat experienced cook, I would have had no idea these were things to know in food prep, and there are likely other things I overlooked, having not known about them already.

While the translation is generally quite good, there are several speech bubbles where the text gets cut off in what I assume is a result of shorter text in the original French text. I’m unsure why the boxes or art weren’t touched up for the English release to ensure that didn’t happen. Additionally, the lettering in many of the speech bubbles is rather difficult to read. It’s not only in cursive script, but a somewhat sloppy handwriting that left me uncertain what some words were without rereading them several times.

To Drink and to Eat Volume 2: More Meals and Mischief From a French Kitchen gets a bit lost in translation, but its warm colors and excellent blending of comic strips with creative recipes is something I would absolutely love to see more of. The recipes are all diverse and very well-illustrated, despite a few glaring holes here and there.

To Drink and to Eat Volume 2 is available now wherever comics are sold.


To Drink and to Eat Volume 2
3.3

TL;DR

To Drink and to Eat Volume 2: More Meals and Mischief From a French Kitchen gets a bit lost in translation, but its warm colors and excellent blending of comic strips with creative recipes is something I would absolutely love to see more of. The recipes are all diverse and very well-illustrated, despite a few glaring holes here and there.