This review could have been easily been titled, The 100 Reasons You Must Buy This Book, but I don’t actually like writing list-styled posts, so I shall instead, tell you a story about why you should buy this book immediately. As in–right now.
I’m deeply ashamed that I have missed Shauna Niequist’s two prior books to Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes. There’s no good excuse for it, except that I simply hadn’t heard of her, until I got a copy of her book, Bittersweet, in my swag bag at Allume last year. (To all of my friends who knew of her goodness and did not share her with me, I hold you fully responsible for my ignorance–just so you know)
For a couple of weeks, Bread & Wine kept finding it’s way into my twitter stream and my Instagram feed, and on Facebook, so when I saw there was a review copy available, I dove at it–even though I had recently sworn off any more book reviews, in effort to focus on my own writing projects (ahem).
When I tell you that I sat up one Sunday morning reading this blessed book from 4AM until 6:30AM, it is not because I needed a sleeping aid. I had been awakened by my husbands departure for a trip, and couldn’t go back to sleep. I turned over with the book in hand and wept for her honesty and exquisite use of words. Shauna is a tremendous story teller who manages to write with such accessibility and grace that you can’t help but weep with her through the hard moments she recalls, and laugh with her over the lighter moments. She paints stories so real and vivid, it’s as if you’re leaning across her kitchen counter as she tells them to you, or better yet, chopping and tasting right along side her.
I gulped her words down with a surprising hunger. The more I read, the more I wanted to read. I truly did not want this book to end, and now–I am a fan for life.
It’s no secret that I love food, my tightening jeans can attest to that this particular season. For me, food is a great many things more than nourishment. Part of what makes Shauna’s book so wonderful is the inclusion of recipes in the chapters. This is not a cookbook, but it’s a book you’ll want to cook with.
The other night after my children went to bed, I found myself in the kitchen with Shauna, trying a recipe I would never have imagined trying, until I read her words. Weeks ago, I bought a bag of quinoa at the store and tossed it in the fridge. I had no recipe for it, but I’d hear it’s praises sung by many and so on a whim, I added it to our stock. When I saw the recipe in Bread & Wine for Breakfast Quinoa, it felt like providence.
I purchased the chicken sausage Shauna recommended fromTrader Joes and at 9PM that evening, found myself dicing onions and boiling quinoa, anxiously awaiting my first taste of this new dish.
To be honest, a great many recipes in her book scare me. What I mean is, I am a plain-jane kind of eater. I don’t like fruit mixed with my chocolate, I run far away from pungent cheeses (too many bad cheese experiences as a child living overseas) and I typically roll my eyes and the effort of making anything gluten-free (I know, I’m sorry, I truly am, I have no excuse). This Breakfast Quinoa recipe felt safe. Though I’d never eaten quinoa, I figured it would be mild, and at worst, terribly bland.
The smell of onions caramelizing in the pan with the Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage? Oh. My. I want to go cook that again this minute, just to smell that again. It’s heavenly scent proved instant reward for my efforts and bravery at trying this unfamiliar recipe. The dish was wonderful, and comforting, just as she said it would be. And perhaps the best part–I now feel a certain willingness budding in me to try a few of her other less familiar recipes–even the one with ingredients I tend to shy away from.
This book fed me in ways I can’t fully describe. I absolutely loved it.