This book, Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes, by Shauna Niequist, was both of those things for me. It is a book about food, fellowship, family, friendships…and life around the table. I didn’t really expect to enjoy it as much as I have. I didn’t expect to love it. I didn’t expect to look forward to bedtime so I could read the next chapter. But, that’s exactly what happened!
The book grabbed me, even in the introduction, with these words:
“More than that, I am a bread and wine person. By that I mean that I’m a Christian, a person of the body and blood, a person of the bread and wine. Like every Christian, I recognize the two of them as food and drink, and also, at the very same time, I recognize them as something much greater – mystery and tradition and symbol. Bread is bread, and wine is wine, but bread-and-wine is another thing entirely. The two together are the sacred and the material at once, the heaven and earth, the divine and the daily.”
As I read these chapters, they kind of read to me almost like a memoir. Shauna shared her experiences with certain recipes, her happy times around the table as well as times that food has ministered in times of grief. Her stories pulled me in and quite honestly, I found myself wanting to run out to the store and grab every.single.ingredient from her recipes and spend days in the kitchen baking and cooking and feeding my family. But, I think even more than the food, I wanted her experiences and memories and conversations around the table.
The other aspect of this book that brought out something unexpected in me was the need for hospitality in our lives. Shauna talks a lot about “letting others in” despite what our home looks like and even what our lives look like at that moment. This really resonated with me on a deep level. I found myself yearning to call and invite everyone I love to come for dinner. Unfortunately, my husband and I are both introverts and this is much harder than it sounds. But, we do this occasionally and this book left me wanting to have my home be open more and more to others.
I tried several recipes from this book, which was another unexpected blessing. I didn’t expect to read a book and be drawn into a certain recipe, but that is exactly what Shauna’s book did for me. Her stories of these recipes and the fellowship and conversations that went along with them actually created a desire in me to try these foods out. Every recipe I tried was fabulous. We might have even made the Flourless Brownies and the Dark Chocolate Seat Salted Butter Toffee more than once. 🙂
This book has changed how I view feeding my family. This book has changed how I view dinner time and fellowship and sharing food together. I do believe that all of life is sacred and I want to cherish these times around the table so much more than I have in the past. This seems to be a lesson that God is teaching me in lots of areas…to find those simple joys, to be content in the everyday moments and places that God places me, to be grateful in it all.