Thursday, April 4, 2013

Bread & Wine. {a review}

   Its no surprise that one of my all-time favorite reads is Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist. I read it this past fall/winter and it so completely resonated with where my heart was {still is?}. When I heard that Shauna had another book coming out, I couldn't wait to hear more. Then I saw her tweet for bloggers to review advanced copies, and I jumped all over that bandwagon. Eek! A little baby blogger like me getting an early book copy from one of my favorite authors? Sign me up for that ish. ASAP. 

 Ok, I have to be honest here. I was initially more excited for the opportunity than the actual read. All I knew before getting my copy was that it was titled Bread & Wine and it chronicled several recipes and how to incorporate 'life around the table.' I assumed it was a cookbook with side-stories, and probably full of recipes that were a little too fancy for my taste. Yup. I was totally skeptical, but only because I wasn't sure it would be my taste, you know? But guys, I was so so wrong. It wasn't what I expected at all-it was so much better. 
 Instead of a cookbook, Bread & Wine is more a collection of stories and essays with recipes at the end of each. Each chapter stands alone, yet connects to all the others. If you've read Bittersweet, its a similar format. Its actually one of my favorite parts of each book; you can read just one chapter and put the book down for a day or weeks. You can jump around or you can read cover to cover. Each chapter has a bit of truth and reflection in it; and the recipes at the end of each are just a delicious benefit! 

 Remember how my amazing husband built me a gorgeous dining room table last year? While I was reading the book, I thought a lot about that table. In a short time, we've already found life and community around it. I know that sounds so cheesy, but bear with me. Food connects people, there's no denying that. I've always loved cooking and baking and hosting- and personally using food to connect people. For me, our dining room table epitomizes that. {Still cheesy, I know} And thinking back on the last weeks and months, our table has represented that. My closest friends from grad school have gathered around the table; wine glasses, reese's wrappers and pesto stuffed chicken covered the table while we talked about life as social workers. My family has circled the table; playing Apples to Apples, bouncing babies on knees, and eating mexican. We've started new friendships over tacos {noticing a theme here?} and ended others over pitch-in meals. We've covered that table with a breakfast feast made by our small group; and the same group has played wild games of Crinkle Paper around the table. Those very same people have taken the chairs from that table and pulled them into our living room- where we've prayed and studied God's Word together. I've crafted with more than a handful of beautiful women, while sipping soups and talking about Jesus and marriage and being a woman. Justin and I have eaten there together; laughing, reflecting, planning, and definitely crying. And I've sat around that table, with just myself and some steamy tea while mourning and praising and searching.
 I love what Shauna says in the book's introduction;

"Life at the table is life at its best to me, and the spiritual significance of what and how we eat, and with whom and where, is new and profound to me every day."

 So in short, I loved the book. Its good. {I may have read the chapter Enough a dozen times, literally} Read the book. And think about your life around the table. Think about all the dinner dates and work lunches and family meals and late night snacks. What life and community are you finding {or not finding?} around the table? 
 And, I can't forget the delicious recipes. Holy yum. I don't have the fanciest palette and was worried these recipes would be way over my head. Wrong! Guys, I made my very own Caesar Dressing {and salad}- and loved it. Then I shared it for a bridal shower- and the entire thing was gone in minutes. I made flourless brownies, and discovered almond meal is not Justin's favorite. I made the amazing Green Well's salad and shared it with our small group- where it received rave reviews. I'm looking for an excuse to try several others, so let me know if you want to come over for supper! 
 If you're interested in any of the recipes I mentioned {or left out}, go grab a copy of the book! Or email me and I'll share them with you.


meme-and-he said...

yes! Somehow I had totally missed (or forgotten?) that she was coming out with a new book. I will definitely be picking up a copy. She is a beautiful writer.

Amanda said...

What an awesome opportunity!!! I love how you showed examples of your table bringing unity and community. How beautiful! Not cheesy at all.. Beautiful!

Holly Osbeck said...

Love this reflection! Have you read "Cold Tangerines"? I loved that one!

henning love said...

those tulips are just beautiful. another blogger wrote about the book too now i really want to pick it up!

Unknown said...

What a beautiful post! Thank you! XO, Shauna