Book Review: Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist

Bread and Wine: A love letter to Life Around the Table combines Shauna Niequist's love for food and community in a book that, frankly, I couldn't put down.  Like lingering with a sweet piece of Shauna's sea salted toffee, I just couldn't rush it either. It was slow food for my soul. As someone who is a dinner-party host wannabe, I was amazed at this woman's ability to put together food and people. Sometimes, she did it with elaborate planning, and other times, Shauna gathered people around her table with fare offered at the last minute. It really didn't seem to matter what the scenario, Shauna shared honestly and from her heart, in ways that inspired me to want to grab a pan and an onion and start cooking for both my family and my friends.

At the same time, this book is more than tales of shared food around the dinner table and lingering dinner parties--it is Shauna's tales of life in today's world. She shares the joys of births and vacations as well as the pain of miscarriages and lives with over-scheduled seasons. She tells of working from home with constant internet access and enjoying vacation off the grid. She is real and honest with it all. Shauna shares the good and the bad in poignant terms. . .She left me chuckling and she left me tearing up, depending on the chapter.

My only caution with this book is that if you are a tea-totaling Christian, you may not appreciate all her references to drinking alcoholic beverages with meals. Otherwise, I highly recommend this book to anyone needing encouragement to host their own dinners or encouragement to live a real life. Shauna truly inspires you to make your own memories around the table with friends and family. Amazingly to me, she helps me see how even if things don't turn out perfectly, bonds are still formed and friendships are cherished in the midst of occasional food flops--taking a lot of the stress out of that potential situation for me.

Many chapters, have recipes included at the end--mango chicken curry, basic risotto, magical white bean soup, and breakfast cookies--all sound delicious to me. However, for my first Bread and Wine recipe,  I made the blueberry crisp recipe on pages 26 and 27 for a dinner with my in-laws in our new-to-us house. Everyone loved it. I made it the night before so I didn't serve it warm and it was still quite good. Then a couple of days later, I used this versatile recipe with apples and walnuts instead of blueberries and pecans. Again, my family also enjoyed it, this time served warm. Shauna also shares in Bread and Wine why her husband eats gluten free, which was one reason this recipe worked well for my family that has food allergies. . .and was still enjoyed by those who don't have allergies. I appreciated her words of advice for helping cooks include those with allergies or intolerances. I know first hand what it is like to be left out eating something different from the rest of the group.

The book is divided into four sections and the appendix of the book offers a four-week cooking club discussion guide and 4 weeks of cooking/book club menus to correspond with the meat of the book. Also, she includes a pantry list and a guide to fixing those every day weeknight meals and some extra tips on entertaining.

I received this book from Zondervan through the Booksneeze program I was not required to write a positive review.


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