Review: Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with recipes

_140_245_Book.855.coverWhile I have a couple other books by Shauna Niequist, Bread and Wine is the first book that I’ve actually read by her. Friends, it was good.

Bread and Wine is a mixture of the genres of memoir, cookbook, and christian living. We learn a little about Shauna’s post-college life- struggles and joys relating to friendship, marriage, children, miscarriage, infertility. Interwoven into these stories are also stories of cooking, recipes, and eating. I think Shauna captures something that many of us feel- that magic can happen when sitting around a kitchen table. Friendships are created. Tears are shed. Games are played. Prayers are prayed.

For Shauna, cooking and feeding people is a spiritual act of worship. She writes, “What makes me feel alive and connected to God’s voice and spirit in this world is creating opportunities for the people I love to rest and connect and be fed at my table” (p.15). What I love is that while she thoroughly enjoys food and cooking, she is quick to express that the act of hospitality is not about a presentation (take that, pinterest culture), but an act of opening her home and her heart and helping people to feel loved and welcome. It makes me want to come to her house for a meal!

She also shares some of her struggles with food as it relates to our physical bodies. “I’ve always been hungry. Always. I remember being hungry as a small child, as an adolescent girl, as an adult, and just after I locate those feelings and memories of hunger, in my peripheral vision another thing buzzes up, like a flash of heat or pain: shame. Hunger, then shame. Hunger, then shame. Always hungry, always ashamed.” She goes on to say, “My appetite is strong, powerful, precise, but for years and years, I tried to pretend I couldn’t hear it screaming in my ears. It wasn’t ladylike. It wasn’t proper. So I pretended I wasn’t hungry, pretended I’d already eaten, murmured something about not caring one way or the other, because I was afraid that my appetites would get the best of me, that they would expose my wild and powerful hunger.” Her chapter about hunger was one that I think many women would connect with.

At the end of most chapters, Shauna shares one of her favorite recipes. I love that she shares ones that are actually included in the story she tells-  it helps make her story come alive. For example, when she talks about the seasons of feasting and fasting, she shares a simple, healthy lentil soup recipe that she likes to eat when she feels like she’s been doing too much feasting. I can imagine the taste and the simplicity that comes through a lentil soup, and it helps me to remember that after feasting comes fasting. She shares recipes as simple as macaroni and cheese and as complex as steak au poivre with cognac pan sauce. But what I love most about the recipes is that they are actually do-able. They typically have few ingredients and pretty simple directions. They may have one ingredient that I’m not really used to, but almost all of them seem like something I could make on an ordinary day.

Bread and Wine was an enjoyable, relaxing read. I would definitely recommend it to people who love food, cooking and community! You’ll find yourself caught up in her stories, and encouraged to call a few friends over for an evening of dining.

I received this book free from the publisher through the® <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. Thank you BookSneeze. 




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