My mind and heart have been focused on relationships lately.
Relationships are the connecting point of everything precious in life.
From the neighbors who share our sidewalks to the coworker who crunches numbers in the next
cubicle to the people who walk barefoot on crumb covered floors of a place
we call home.
Life is a delicious mixture of relationships.
This may explain my fascination with memoirs.
Memoirs have become a mainstay on my reading list.
I love seeing how people walk through life.
I suppose if I could possess the superpower of invisibility,
I wouldn’t read so many memoirs, I would observe undetected.
For now, I will evaporate into the pages of memoirs.
On Sundays, I have also been reading cookbooks.
Once or twice a week, I visit the library and grab cookbooks which interest me.
By Sunday, I have a nice stack of cookbooks providing calorie-free gazing.
I love to be inspired as the eternal question of “what’s for dinner?” is well-worn.
I read the stories attached to each recipe.
I gaze at the glossy pictures.
I wonder if I could pull off the exotic concoction.
Cookbooks are a feast for the eyes as much as for the taste buds.
Over the years, I have devoured Shauna Niequist’s two books,
Both books are in the category of “hard to put down” as Shauna writes with honesty and openness.
Her books are like the proverbial potato chip, you can’t eat just one and in this case, read one page.
Shauna’s newest book Bread and Wine is the perfect meeting point of memoir and cookbook.
It is one part life stories, one part delicious recipes and all parts delightfully rich and satisfying.
“What’s becoming clearer and clearer to me is that the most sacred moments,
the ones in which I feel God’s presence most profoundly,
when I feel the goodness of the world most arrestingly,
take place at the table.
The particular alchemy of celebration and food, of connecting with people
and serving them things I’ve made with my own hands, comes together
and are more than the sum of their parts.
I love the sounds and smells and textures of life at the table,
hands passing bowls and forks clinking against plates and bread being torn
and the rhythm and energy of feeding and being fed.”
The best memoirs, in my opinion, open the window wide to reveal life.
Lives which often aren’t dust-free or carefree.
Shauna offers an invitation to embrace life with others and partake in food and
“That’s what this is all about.
This isn’t about recipes.
This is about a family,
a tribe, a little band of people who walk through it all together,
up close and in the mess,
real-time and unvarnished.”
There was a period of time when our family didn’t invite people over.
It was during an especially dark patch of living as one.
When one hurt, we all felt the pain.
The days could start well and unravel by lunchtime.
I know that trying to be perfect got in the way.
In that stretch of time, cracks, frayed edges and untidiness marred
our home landscape.
I wonder if instead of saying no and keeping others at a distance,
what if we had said yes,
join our mess and please accept the simplest offering of grilled cheese?
Might we have found ourselves shoulder to shoulder with
fellow mess dwellers?
In one chapter, Shauna writes about the importance of starting where you are.
Begin by sharing a take-out pizza with a few friends.
Next time perhaps make flat bread pizza and add a salad with
Life equals relationships, put yourself in the equation.
Relationships can grow and be nurtured around the dinner table or coffee table
or on a sticky floor from a life spilling out and discovering you are loved.
In the pages of Bread and Wine, I believe you will be inspired to have a
dinner party or even a grilled cheese buffet.
Or simply just invite people more fully into your life.
I know you will be reminded of the living water of conversation and long to
savor foods with your loved ones.
Sometimes the biggest hindrance to entertaining are the “how-to” questions.
Shauna provides so many simple recipes with very accessible ingredients.
She adds sample menu suggestions and some very key tips for entertaining.
Maybe you know how-to, but life has gotten crammed with to-do’s.
Circle a date on your calendar and send out a clarion call of welcome for
friends to join you in a love feast.
I know you will love this book as much as I have enjoyed reading it.
But truth be told, I haven’t finished it yet.
I am developing a new superpower called self-control.
Just like that secret stash of fine chocolate tucked away in a cupboard,
I am savoring every last morsel of Bread and Wine.
Because as much as I would like, Shauna doesn’t have a new book out
every month, I am making this book last just like the best gatherings
when you don’t want to see your guests reach for their coats.
“Some of my most sacred meals have been eaten out of travel mugs on camping trips or on benches on the street in Europe. Many of them have been at our own table or around our coffee table, leaning back against the couch. They’ve been high food and low food,fresh and frozen, extravagant and right out of the pizza box.It’s about the table, and about all the other places we find ourselves eating. It’s about a spirit and quality of living that rises up when we offer one another life itself, in the form of dinner or soup or breakfast, or bread and wine.”
Read Shauna’s blog here.
View trailers about the book here.
Curious about the recipes?
Join the virtual progressive dinner party.
Start here for the first course.