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Discuss "Oishinbo À La Carte: Vegetables" or "Dirt Candy"

For our March book read, we'll be venturing out of the comfort zone a bit, to deal with Veggie Comic Books.

Yep, you read that right. Not Veggie Tales. Veggie Comic Books.

I know what you're thinking. "Who the HECK in their right mind does *comic books* about VEGETABLES?"

Well ... the Japanese, for one. And a vegetarian celebrity chef, for the other.

OISHINBO is from the genre of manga, or Japanese comic books, which has attracted quite a following in the West. This particular title is one of the longest running, from 1983 to 2008 without a break. Contrary to what we normally think about manga, there are no busty schoolgirls being attacked by tentacles here. Instead the storyline follows two reporters as they examine Japanese cuisine and eating habits.

The Viz Media version is called OISHINBO À LA CARTE, which collects stories from various points along the manga's publishing run, and the volume subtitled VEGETABLES happens to deal with foodstuffs which we would find most familiar. So you can think of this volume as a short story collection. Just with pictures. Lots of pictures. And although it contains a couple of recipes, it is *not* a cookbook.

DIRT CANDY, on the other hand, *is* a cookbook. It's by Amanda Cohen, who operates an award-winning vegetarian restaurant in New York City (www.dirtcandynyc.com) and who gained notoriety from her appearance as a challenger on Food Network's IRON CHEF AMERICA. Being a celebrity chef of sorts, she released a cookbook / memoir this year, only instead of the usual coffee table format, she chose to put it out as a graphic novel. Besides recipes, the book also talks about her story of trying to get her restaurant up and running. It's not quite the story that foodie magazines would normally sell.

Now, as I've mentioned during our November meetup discussing UNDERSTANDING COMICS, the graphic novel format (or comic book) is a perfectly legitimate medium for the conveying of ideas, be they fiction or nonfiction. We're not dealing with any muscle-bound superheroics here, so don't be dismissive of the idea of reading them just because they tell their narrative with pictures as well as words.

Ideally it would be good to read both, but it's and either / or to take into account limited book budgets. OISHINBO is less expensive, but it's also in the Japanese manga format, meaning the binding is on the right-hand side of the book rather than the left (but it's English-language text).

DIRT CANDY only came out this year, so Ottawa Public Library doesn't have a copy. The library *does,* however, have 3 copies of OISHINBO A LA CARTE: VEGETABLES in the system. DIRT CANDY is also available as an e-book, but I don't recommend that format; for this medium, layout matters, and people will find the e-production too small to be legible.

As for the venue, in keeping with the month's theme, we'll be discussing at a vegetarian restaurant. ZenKitchen is on Somerset Street between Percy and Bronson, just to the east of the Chinatown district. They *do* have a beer and wine list as well as a vegetarian menu (several dishes are, or can be made, gluten-free). There are two public parking lots about three blocks away, in Chinatown, with the one on the north side being outdoor and the one on the south side being indoor.

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  • Warren C.

    I enjoyed exploring the graphic novel form.

    March 30, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sorry, I won't be able to join you; there's been a change in my appointment schedule. Bon appetite everyone!

    March 28, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I will try to make this after an appointment - hopefully by 7:00 .... I could not get the vegetables but got the soba and gyoza and I think I may never be able to eat an ordinary bowl of noodles from the affordable list again!
    Jaycee

    March 27, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Love the Oishinbo series (introduced to me by my comic book artist son.) Unfortunately, I can't make it on March 28th; will read Dirt Candy as recommended. Thanks for organizing, Victor. Looking forward to the next event!

    March 22, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hi Victor, while I don't have any allergies I know of I am having trouble accessing the books. I'd prefer not to buy them and borrowing from the library isn't going well. Do you know anyone who might be willing to lend me a copy for day or two?

    March 5, 2013

    • Victor W.

      Sorry, should have specified a time. 17h30 do?

      March 6, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Perfect. I'll see you Thursday, 5:30 pm in Starbucks in Rideau Chapters.

      March 6, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Neat selection:) I enjoyed the Oishinbo series :)
    Thanks Victor!

    March 6, 2013

  • Victor W.

    05 Mar - I've just made the reservation at Zen Kitchen, and they asked me to check if attendees have any health concerns (i.e. allergies) that they should be aware of. If so, please let me know and I'll pass it along.

    March 5, 2013

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