Review: Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist
"There's something entirely satisfying in a modern, increasingly virtual world about something so elemental - heat, knife, sizzle." pg. 16
I discovered Shauna Niequist's blog a few months ago and instantly became a gigantic fan of her work. There is such an honest and wholesome approach to her writing, her food and her life. Her collection of essays and recipes in Bread & Wine: A love letter to life around the table with recipes is such a treat to read and connect with her life through the dishes and foods that have helped shape her. This collection discusses body image, connection to religion, home renovations, heartbreak in its many forms and family traditions interspersed with recipes that were and are important to those memories.
I think my favourite part about this collection is the ease of which it conveyed how food is absolutely necessary and should be honoured and celebrated often with the people who are absolutely necessary to us. It was like peeking into her life and sticking around for a while.
The way Niequist explains entertaining and cooking for people is something very refreshing and needed in a time of Pinterest and Dinner Party Wars; it's more important to welcome people over to your space, serve something and be present instead of perfect.
"What people are craving isn't perfection. People aren't longing to be impressed, they're longing to feel like they're home. If you create a space full of love and character and creativity and soul, they'll take off their shoes and curl up with gratitude and rest, no matter how small, no matter how undone, no matter how odd." pg. 106-107
I did find some stories to be a little repetitive, especially when it came to talk of pregnancy and miscarriages. But, hey, there are parts of our lives we can get stuck into and I understand why there's a need to talk and write about it. With some collections it's hard to get over the parts I don't like, but with these essays the parts I didn't like were still beautifully written and well-composed in the grand scheme of the narrative.
Plus, the recipes in this collection sound delicious, and many are allergy friendly. Niequist's husband follows a gluten-free diet, and there is a good mix of egg-free, nut-free and dairy-free options. Her basic vinaigrette recipe is one that is so simple and delicious I can see it becoming a staple in my kitchen for just about anything that comes off the stove. I'm also anxious to try out the goat cheese biscuits and the mango chicken curry.
I invite you to give this book a try, if only to flip through the recipes at first. I guarantee after reading the introduction there will be a need to know more and dig a little deeper into this lovely collection of work.