Good day to you, MoFos! It's still Comic Book Week all up in here and today's post is a giant shout out to Rob Guillory and John Layman's CHEW. CHEW tells the story of Tony Chu, a guy I think it'd be best to just let the creators explain in their own words (and pictures):
(Please click to embiggen all the scans. Again, I apologize for the quality. And if you're John Layman, Rob Guillory or an Image Comics rep, I apologize for it even being here. I just want to share it with people and encourage them to buy it. You can't argue with that, right? Please?)
Tony started out as a cop, but when the powers that be figured out what he was capable of, they promoted him. The FDA became super powerful after a supposed avian flu epidemic led to a nationwide poultry ban. While working for the FDA, Tony encounters Action! Adventure! Romance! Comedy! Vampires! Terrorists! Luchador chickens*! Extraterrestrial fruit! Chicken speakeasies! And MORE!
And, of course, his boss is a douchebag.
Yup, apparently this is also Day 3 of People Being Assholes to People Who Don't Eat Meat Week. But I promise we'll have none of that tomorrow or Friday. And you do NOT want to know what's in that McBeefy's box (actually, you really do but I'm not going to spoil it for you).
Anyway, if CHEW isn't my favorite comic currently being published, it's definitely in my top three. Guillory's art is cartoony, which is perfect because sometimes the subject matter can be pretty dark and flat out gross and I don't think any of us wants to see that stuff rendered realistically. There's a crazy amount of detail in every panel, including loads of inside jokes. After I read an issue, I often go back just to look over the backgrounds and see what I missed the first time around. Layman's writing is freaking spectacular. He lays in all sorts of things you think are just random, then BOOM they show up issues later with actual relevance. It's clever and funny, the characters are sympathetic (and all named after food), it gets pretty funky at times, but without getting so wacky you get taken out of the story. I don't think I can recommend it enough.
When trying to decide what to make for my CHEW-themed meal, I kept two elements of the story in mind:
1. The only food Tony doesn't get a psychic impression from is beets, presumably making them his favorite food.
2. The Gallsberry: a fruit that looks like a totally tentacular pineapple and tastes just like chicken.
So I wanted to make something that incorporated beets, pineapple and tofu, every hippie's favorite chicken analog. I flipped through Veganomicon and wound up with Shredded Parsnip & Beet Salad in Pineapple Vinaigrette, topped with Orange Baked Tofu. I wanted the salad to last me all day, so I served it over arugula and quinoa.
I've never been the hugest fan of beets, so I think this was my first time eating them raw and I thoroughly enjoyed it. That may be because the dressing is lovely and I'd marry parsnips if that was legal in my state. End result: I can totally eat raw beets now. Thanks, Veganomicon!
The orange baked tofu is delightful. I chucked it in the broiler for a few minutes after it was done, which was hell on my pan, but made it really nice and chewy. The recipe calls for two tablespoons of dark rum. I thought I had a bottle of cheap rum for cooking and baking around somewhere, but couldn't find it, so I finally broke into the stash of mini bottles I brought home from Barbados last winter:
Turns out each of those bottles holds more than two tablespoons, so I only needed to open one. I went with the Mount Gay because I don't think Old Brigand is available in the US, so I thought I should save it. Anyone know for sure? Anyway, I don't drink much, so I'm very sensitive to the taste of alcohol and didn't notice it in this at all, so don't let the inclusion of rum in the recipe put you off if you don't like it.
Bottom line: CHEW is fabulous and you should all go read it. Nerdy confession: I own the monthlies, trade paperbacks and hard cover "Omnivore Edition", so if you're in NYC and want to borrow it, you're welcome to it. Issue #15 hits stores today with a snazzy fold-out cover.
And if you don't already have Veganomicon, and you like food, you should probably get that, too (or ate least check it out from the library or preview it online). Even if you're not vegan. Or think you don't like vegetables. It's got some really flavorful sides (or dishes that can be served as sides) that make wonderful gateway vegetables.