Thursday, April 4, 2013
Book Review: Bread & Wine
Bread & Wine is Shauna Niequist's third book, following her first two, Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet. I only recently started reading Shauna's blog, and this is her first book I've read. Bread & Wine is a collection of short essays about anything and everything--life, love, family, heartache, friends, and above all food. The subtitle on the cover is, "a love letter to life around the table with recipes." And, that's exactly what it is: a love letter.
Niequiest's writing is beautiful and poetic. She sounds like she is everyone's best friend, and if you were to meet her, I bet you'd feel an instant kinship. And, ask to join her cooking club.
I haven't read too many foodie books, only one really and I didn't even finish it--Julia Child's "My Life in France." The one thing I loved about Julia Child's book is how she wrote about food. Oh my word. The way she described things, you just wanted to jump through the pages and eat your way through all of the amazing delicacies she wrote about. This is how I feel about Bread & Wine. Here is a short passage from the introduction:
"For the record, my last-supper meal looks a bit like this: first, of course, ice-cold champagne, gallons of it, flutes catching the candlelight and dancing. There would be bacon-wrapped dates oozing with goat cheese, and risotto with thick curls of Parmesan and flecks of black pepper. There would be paper-thin pizza with tomatoes and mozzarella and slim ribbons of basil, garlicky pasta and crusty bread and lots of cheeses, a plummy pinot noir and maybe a really dirty martini, because you might as well go big on your last night on earth. There would be dark chocolate sea salted toffee and a bowl of fat blackberries, and we'd stay at the table for hours and hours, laughing and telling stories and reaching for one more bite, one more bite, one more bite."
At some point in the book, you may (like me) become overly jealous or annoyed with this woman. I mean, really. Her life looks pretty awesome on paper. Tons of friends, full life, great husband and kids, close family, lake vacations, running a marathon for pete's sake. But, she shares her other sides too. The dark period of miscarriages, insecurities, fears, loss. She's just a woman, like you and me. No need for me to put her on a pedestal. And just from reading her book and blog, I know she wouldn't want me to.
The recipes, oh the recipes. I love the fact that many are fancy/not really fancy recipes that are easy to prepare and impress your guests: Steak au Poivre with Cognac Pan Sauce, Mini Mac & Cheese, Bacon-Wrapped Dates, Maple Balsamic Pork Tenderloin. Simple ingredients, big flavor. There are also every day recipes like Annette's Enchiladas, Brannon's Caesar Salad, and Magical White Bean Soup.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and I can't wait to make some of the recipes... starting with the Bacon-Wrapped Dates!
Disclosure: I received this advanced reading copy free from Zondervan via Handlebar Publishing as part of their Board of Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.