Book Review: Bread and Wine – Part One

If you read about my winter break reading list, you’ll know I really wanted to read Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist. I got it for Christmas and haven’t put it down since! I’ll probably finish it tomorrow, but I thought I’d share some of my favorite moments so far.  This is less of a book review and more of a collection of things I read that made me go, “Wow, that’s so my life.” I feel like I’ve known Shauna forever.  She writes with such a raw, vulnerable, honest, passionate, and down-to-earth voice. She talks about everything from travel memories, cooking mishaps and  successes, the ups and downs in the lives of her loved ones, saying yes to running a marathon finally, her journey to self acceptance and finding balance, and learning to live each day focused on the things that matter most. I can see, smell, taste the meals in her kitchen as well as feel the love in her home as I read. We share such a similar view of the world and the place of food in that world. I want to have dinner with her one day, I’m not even kidding. Anyway, this is going to be a multiple series, because I have too many favorite quotes from this book already. Enjoy this sneak peak and go buy it here! Also check out her own website and blog here.

“Whenever my jeans are too tight, I’m reminded that I know better than to love bread the way I do, but love is blind, and certainly beyond reason.”

“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 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.”

“It’s the thing that connects us, that bears our traditions, our sense of home and family, our deepest memories, and, on a practical level, our ability to live and breathe each day. Food matters.”

“All through the stories about God and his people, there are stories about food, about all of life changing with the bite of an apple, about trading an inheritance for a bowl of stew, about waking up to find the land littered with bread, God’s way of caring for his people; about a wedding where water turned to wine, Jesus’ first miracle; about the very first Last Supper, the humble bread and wine becoming,  for all time, indelibly linked to the very body of Christ, the center point for thousands of years of tradition and belief. It matters. It mattered then, and it matters now, possibly even more so, because it’s a way of reclaiming some of the things we may have lost alined the way.”

“What makes me feel alive and connected to God’s voice and spirit in this world is creating opportunities for the people I love to rest and connect and be fed at my table.”

“There’s something entirely satisfying in a modern, increasingly virtual world about something so elemental – heat, knife, sizzle.”

“When you eat, I want you to think of God, of the holiness of the ands that feed us, of the provision we are given every time we eat.”

“I can’t imagine life without a table between us.”

“That’s how this is for me. I’ve been catastrophizing about my weight since I was six. I’ve lost the pounds and gained them, made and abandoned plans and promises, cried tears of frustration, pinched the backs of my upper arms with a hatred that scares me…And through all that, I’ve made friends and fallen in love, gotten married and become a mother. I’ver written and traveled and stayed up late with people I love. I’ve walked on the beach and on glittering city streets. I’ve kissed my baby’s cheeks and danced with my husband and laughed till i cried with my best friends, and through all that it didn’t really matter that I was heavier than I wanted to be.”

“I think about the food and the people and the things we might discover about life and about each other. I think about the sizzle of oil in a pan and the smell of rosemary released with a knife cut. And it could be that that’s how God made me the moment I was born, and it could be that that’s how God made me along the way as I’ve given up years of secrecy and denial and embarrassment. It doesn’t matter at this point. What matters is that one of the ways we grow up is by declaring what we love.”

“But it’s a lovely process, with not a minute wasted.”

“I’m not talking about cooking as performance, or entertaining as a complicated choreography of competition and showing off. I’m talking about feeding someone with honesty and intimacy and love, about making your home a place where people are fiercely protected, even if just for a few hours, from the crush and cruelty of the day.”

“Risotto lets you know what’s happening at every turn . Risotto-making is the exact opposite of baking, where it all happens in the oven without you. Risotto shouts out each step, invites you to notice each change. It’s physical and active and clear.”

“I want to cultivate a deep sense of gratitude, of roundedness, of enough, even while I’m longing for something more. The longing and the gratitude, both. I’m practicing believing that God knows more than I know, that he sees what I can’t, that he’s weaving a future I can’t imagine from where I sit this morning.”

“As more and more of us watch more and more shows on the Food Network and the like, we actually cook less and less.”

“For many years, I only ate meat that was boneless because it freaked me out and made me feel overly carnivorous and animal-like to wrestle with wiggly, slippery bones. All of a sudden, fast-forward to me burying a ten-inch knife into a venison shoulder and, in the process, ending up with deer blood all over my shoes.”

“But then you find yourself holding a very sharp chef’s knife and you realize all at once that it doesn’t matter what you’ve read or seen or think you know. You learn it, really learn it, with your hands. With your fingers and your knife, your nose and your ears, your tongue and your muscle memory, learning as you go.”

“What I’m finding is that when I’m hungry, lots of times what I really want more than food is an external voice to say, ‘You’ve done enough. It’s OK to be tired. You can take a brea. I’ll take care of you. I see how hard you’re trying.’ There is, though, no ice that can say that except the voice of God. The work I’m doing now is to let those words fall deeply on me, to give myself permission to be tired, to be weak, to need.”

“I want so badly to release my stronghold on my plan, my way, my calendar. I want to be the kind of Christian who really does believe God holds the future and that even my best guesses are just that. I want to live without anxiety, fear, and deadlines. But it seems that every chance I get, I grab back those pretend reins and allow myself to believe the myth that I’m in control.”

“And I began to understand what drove the acronyms and slogans and the almost violent positivity: you need it, that kind of enthusiasm, to get you up that early, to prod you along those miles.”

“It’s all out there, with nothing but the drumbeat of your feet and the rhythm of your ragged breath and the green of the trees on the path.”

“People are sometimes horrified when they hear that I wandered so many big cities all alone as a young teenager, but I found that people all over the world were charming and helpful, and that there might not be as much to fear as we think.”

“As we traveled, food became a language for understanding, even more so than museums or history lessons.”

“I hold all these places and flavors with me, like a fistful of shiny coins, like a charm bracelet. I want to be everywhere at once…I want it all – all the tastes, all the smells, all the stories and memories and traditions, all the textures and flavors and experiences, all running down my chin, all over my fingers.”

“Sometimes people ask me why I travel so much, an why we travel with Henry so often. I think they think it’s easier to keep the kids at home, in their routines, surrounded by their stuff. It is. But we travel because it’s there. Because Capri exists and Kenya exists and Tel Aviv exists, and I want to taste every bite of it.”

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