Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes by Shauna Niequist
I’ve had my eye on this book for a while – as much for the beauty of its book cover (designed by the super cute Lindsey Letters) as the lure of its lovely content (imagine your best friend being a foodie who whips up divine snacks on a moment’s notice).
But when I first cracked open its spine, I was a little disappointed. Because of my own connection with hospitality as an extension of church planting, I was expecting Bread & Wine to be about hospitality in the local church.
And while the author does anchor the book in her Christian faith, Bread & Wine is more a book about how God uses food to bind people to others and to himself.
That doesn’t make the book any less worthy of being read or any less lovely. In fact, the more I read, the more I began to personally like the author – her wit, her fierce fight to find joy in life and family, and her unflagging commitment to honest living – all of which emerge from the stories of her kitchen and dining room table.
Each chapter is a short reflection of friendship, family, and life in community. Almost each chapter ends with a recipe that you feel compelled to run to your kitchen and try immediately just so your connection to the author’s story doesn’t have to end.
Here are a few recipes that I’ve tried and loved!
- White Chicken Chili (I’ve made this twice since reading the book! Warm, a little spicy, delicious!)
- Esquites/Mexican Grilled Corn (Yum. Yum. Yum.)
- Breakfast Cookies (which didn’t turn out for me, but were a hit for one of my friends)
Here are a few recipes on my to-try list (like for next week!)
- Bacon Wrapped Dates
- Blueberry Crisp
- Annette’s Enchiladas
- Maple Balsamic Pork Tenderloin
- Dark Chocolate Salted Toffee
Other things I liked about Bread & Wine:
- Cooking with dietary restrictions in mind, Niequist has a desire to make everyone feel welcome around her table.
- Cooking is about honoring your friends and family with food and choosing to be “present rather than perfect.”
- Cooking is about fun, taste, and savoring stories – not about checking a box off your weekly meal calendar (guilty parties may now raise their hands).
Boiled down, Bread & Wine is primarily a book about the two stories of faith and friendship and how food connects them. Among its pages, Niequist invites us to enter into her personal stories – of which most women can claim – stories of bliss, loss, indulgence, miscarriage, friendship, community, work, pain, and more.
By the time I read the final two chapters of the book, Niequist finally arrived at my original hope. For the author, the table is a way to connect to God’s presence since He himself gives us food as a “reminder of our humanity, our fragility, our createdness.”
Niequist writes: “When you offer peace instead of division, when you offer faith instead of fear, when you offer someone a place at your table instead of keeping them out because they’re different or messy or wrong somehow, you represent the heart of Christ.”
It is in those final chapters that Niequist’s words really sing. In fact, even though I savored each story (& recipe) in the book, I couldn’t help but wish she had let us linger around the final chapters a little longer.
But even in the little time she invites us to her table, she is gracious enough.
This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. For more information about the links in this post, click here.