6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Come to the table,
This review is from: Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes (Hardcover)
I was provided with a free advanced copy of Bread and Wine by the publisher in exchange for reviews and online comment.
Shauna's book is a collection of essays, a fusion of memories, insights and reflections about family life, friendships and the meals that bring us together. So it's a cookbook, encouraging a hands-on relationship to food - heat, knife, sizzle - but it is so much more.
The subtitle is "a love letter to life around the table" which gives the reader a clue to the essence off the book. Shauna is passionate about developing authentic relationships and sharing food is essential to that. It's fitting then that she shares favourite recipes with us. She writes about her "loosey-goosey" approach in the kitchen and her adaptation of recipes depending on what ingredients she has available at the time. She likens this to playing jazz - you learn the scales (recipes) as the basics, and then improvise, adapt and extend to make them your own. The recipes represent food that has a special place in her heart - food that she associates with special people, especially her Cooking Club, or the re-creation (approximately!) in her own kitchen of food that she has eaten in a particular restaurant, or on holiday. It's a neat idea - food integrated through life. And it works. (My favourite recipes so far - blueberry crisp, chicken and mango curry, real simple cassolet, oh and goats cheese biscuits...)
The final part of the book includes menus for entertaining and a discussion guide for a four week book/cooking club. All the measurements are in cups so if you're used to grams and mls, have a conversion table handy, or put measuring cups on your wish list!
Her writing is a call to openness and vulnerability and Shauna models this in the way she writes. It is personal without "letting it all hang out"; she gives just enough for the reader to identify with her - "that's me, I've been there" type response. So although she clearly loves the cooking process and the food, it's the people and the shared experience round the table that she values most.
In reading, I've been challenged about the quality of my relationships - do I have "a little band of people who walk through it all together, up close and in the mess, real time and unvarnished" around the table, or am I content with fast food TV dinner style relationships that are essentially superficial and taken on the run? Mmm...
Shauna makes her Christian faith clear at the start but Bread and Wine is not a book exclusively for those who share her point of view. The blend of personal stories and recipes makes it accessible to anyone who is willing to engage and explore life issues without psycho babble. However, the personal growth and replenishment which Shauna craves for herself and for us is perhaps only possible when we allow God to show up and meet us in the intersections of life. "The building blocks of the most common meal - the bread and the wine - are reminders to us: `He's here! God is here, and he's good.'"