At this point in my life, it is rare that life should bring me to tears, though sometimes books and movies get me closer to that point (well, along with too little sleep). But a book about food? There were no heaving sobs, but Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes by Shauna Niequist kept simultaneously me laughing out loud and wondering if my watery eyes would turn to flowing tears.
Bread & Wine is profound, moving, deeply spiritual, and deeply human. It’s about hoping and healing, feasting and fasting, learning to love and to accept love, learning when to hold others close and when to let go, and learning to weave together the rhythms life. Most of all, it’s about learning to gather together and embrace community and hospitality, particularly for those of us who are the people of the bread and wine.
This unique book recipe blends part spiritual memoir and part cookbook (although Neiquist insists it is not, maybe a “collection of recipes,” then?) to create a flavor all its own.
Niequist’s book will undoubtedly be on my list of favorite reads for 2013. Although I haven’t yet tried any of the recipes, the spiritual lessons are simmering away on my heart and mind. (And hopefully, I’ll make Shauna’s recipe for blueberry crisp before we eat all the blueberries the kids and I just picked!)
Shauna’s husband discovered that he had a gluten allergy, and many of Shauna’s friends have had to live with food restrictions. Her book is geared in such a way that most of the recipes are friendly or easy to adapt to diets with special limitations, particularly gluten free. (Which is good, since my gluten intake since return to the States has hit me hard with some side effects this week.)
Going into this book, I didn’t realize who the author’s father was, and I hadn’t read anything by Niequist prior to this book. Realizing who she was might have changed my perception of the book, though she certainly doesn’t she bask in the limelight of her father’s religious fame.
Evangelicals who hold to the belief that Scripture teaches total from alcohol may be a bit uncomfortable with Niequists frequent mention of enjoying alcoholic beverages (after all, the title is Bread & Wine), but I think even many who take such a position would readily take value in the overall message of the book.