My blog posting has been sporadic for the past month. Easter Break, illness, hosting family, and taking care of life’s duties are my excuses. BUT, I hope that this post will make up for the silence. Since reading is a love for many of you, it is my pleasure to introduce a book that I think many of you will enjoy.
Bread and Wine, Shauna Niequist’s third book, is the perfect combination of all my favorite things—lots of enticing food descriptions (don’t read this book on an empty stomach!), an understanding of what hospitality looks like, and writing that is engaging, funny, and honest. Perhaps the most compelling reason to read this book is that Shauna understands, like many do, that sharing a meal around a table meets more than a utilitarian need. Even a simple meal becomes sacred when guests (or family members, for that matter) share food and conversation around the table.
Throughout the book, descriptions such as, “For dinner that night we seared the tuna and served it over white rice with little puddles of the poblano crema,” and “We had lunch at the Atlantic, where we shared bowls of hot, salty truffle fries, and I had a watermelon feta salad with arugula and mint, the shards of feta rich and tangy against the sweetness of the watermelon,” fill each richly-worded essay. Again, don’t read this book when you’re hungry. Or maybe you should. Then you can try one of the recipes included in the book. The recipes run the gamut from “make this for dinner tonight” to “this one is for company.”
One of the recipes that makes an appearance in the book is Go-to Risotto. I never would have tried risotto without Shauna’s nudging that this was a doable recipe. Risotto seemed somehow daunting—a lot of stirring and figuring out when to add more liquid. I actually tried Shauna’s risotto when she blogged about it a couple of years ago. I even used red wine once when I didn’t have any white because she said the worst thing that would happen would be my risotto turned pink. I can live with pink risotto. Most recently I made Breakfast Cookies—on a school morning! This is significant because I rarely even make muffins on a school morning due to lack of time. Breakfast Cookies fall somewhere along the continuum of fixing toast and making muffins—they’re easy and healthy despite the “cookie” name.
One other detail you need to know about Shuana and cooking. She gives you permission, as the cook, to adapt and improvise the recipes she recommends because she does it all the time herself. Her descriptions are helpful and practical as she explains each recipe.
Woven in-between her descriptions of food and cooking are her reflections on life, faith, family, friendship, and motherhood. If you read Cold Tangerines or Bittersweet, you will see a continuation of Shauna’s journey. Many of the same themes arise in the book, but you will also see a woman who has grown and continues to grow. I like that. Shauna allows her readers to peer into her own soul. We feel safe to mess up or start over again. We also see that we aren’t the only ones who experience heartache or longing.
So go buy a copy of Bread and Wine! You may even find a good recipe for tonight’s dinner or find yourself less intimidated to practice hospitality. Or you may just find yourself hungry and ready to cook multiple recipes at one time. Enjoy!