I’ve read both of Shauna Niequist’s previous books (Cold Tangerines, Bittersweet) and absolutely loved them. She writes so eloquently from her heart with no inhibitions about simple things in life, tangled moments, and beauty. Shauna also speaks on a semi-regular basis at my church and I enjoy listening to her – whether she’s doing announcements or giving a lovely message. When I saw that she was looking for people to read and review advanced copies of Bread & Wine, I knew I had to get in on it. I sent her team a quick email and within weeks, a copy of the book appeared in my mailbox. I couldn’t wait to dive into it! When I read the Winnie the Pooh quote at the beginning of Part 1, I knew I was going to like Bread & Wine. I loved it. This book was like her two previous books, but with a foodie twist.
Reading this book was like sitting up all night drinking wine with my close girlfriends and diving into our cherished memories. This book was smiles and tears. This book was the strengthening of a relationship. This book was a comforting hand. This book was soft candles on the table and a full belly. This book was a reminder of why life is so wonderful – those little moments that we hold dear. This book was a welcome seat for a warm meal at Shauna’s table. Not a memoir, and yet, not a cooking book, Bread & Wine is definitely Shauna’s love letter to life around the table.
As a unique touch to her honest tales of love and faith, Shauna included the recipes associated with the memories and stories she shared. She doesn’t just list the ingredients and offer a short step-by-step to making the dish — she puts her personality into the directions (“cook so low that you think, really, nothing is happening” and “Serve immediately, like, right that second”). I didn’t have a chance to make any of the meals [yet], but reading the recipes really pulled me closer to her stories. It made them real. I kept wanting to jump into the conversation with my comments and thoughts (and to try the food!). The way she uses words to paint pictures of her meals make you fall more in love with food if you aren’t already.
Immediately after finishing her book, I had a better appreciation for food gatherings with family and friends — I wanted more gatherings. Oddly enough, they started to happen — or maybe I just started to notice. Most recently, I spent Easter morning with my small group: we gathered on a golf course in a friend’s backyard and watched the sun rise while singing songs and listening to someone read the Easter story from the bible. It was magical. We followed up with breakfast in the house. The joy that fills a room with food and happy people is amazing. Bread & Wine has motivated me to host people in my home often so I create more of these experiences in my own life.
I highly recommend this to people who love food, relationships, memories, and building memories with others centered around food. You can pick up a copy here. Cheers!
A little bit more about Shauna:
Shauna Niequist is the author of Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet, and Bread & Wine. Shauna grew up in Barrington, Illinois, and then studied English and French Literature at Westmont College in Santa Barbara. She is married to Aaron, who is a pianist and songwriter. Aaron is a worship leader at Willow Creek and is recording a project called A New Liturgy. Aaron & Shauna live outside Chicago with their sons, Henry and Mac. Shauna writes about the beautiful and broken moments of everyday life–friendship, family, faith, food, marriage, love, babies, books, celebration, heartache, and all the other things that shape us, delight us, and reveal to us the heart of God.