There's a valuable lesson as Christians we ought to know about our dinner tables: They're a place of communion, refuge, encouragement, and nourishment for the heart, souls, and bodies that gather around them to share in a meal or a cup of coffee. It's too often the most overlooked mission field, but an extremely important one nonetheless. In her newest book, Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes, Shauna Niequist invites us to taste and see this deep community.
Reading any of Shauna's books feels like I'm sitting across from a close friend having a conversation, only this time we're talking about one of my favorites things: food. I honestly do. Next to Jesus, family and friends, food brings a great deal of joy into my life: creamy pastas, olives, artisan bread, blackberries, scones with devonshire cream, freshly made guacamole and tacos... I'm all over the map as a foodie. Reading Shauna's words was like permission to indulge in my inner Giada, which was so refreshing to read in a world that pelts women with the latest diet trends and glossy magazines telling us to get skinnier. While weight is not something I've personally had a struggle with, Shuana has, and I believe she's done a wonderful job in keeping that balance of having a healthy view of our bodies, but still enjoying all the flavors around us. More importantly though, she conveys how nourishing our starving souls is as simple as connecting to another human over said steamy pasta. True to her writing style, she paints beautiful word pictures in sharing her stories, and now recipes. Nearly every chapter ends with the corresponding recipe of the meal mentioned in each of her essays, many of which I'm excited to try over the summer. But don't think to hard about perfecting the food side of things in this pursuit of community and hospitality; my philosophy of cooking is the same as Shauna: have your list of ingredients, and a general idea of how to put them together, but then go with the flow... alter it to your taste. Because at the end of the day, it's not so much about presenting your companions a perfected dish, but offering one another some nutrients we're all lacking in: grace, mercy, forgiveness, kindness, understanding, encouragement, and more. This would make a wonderful addition to your summer reading list, and if I might add, I'd pick up Tim Chester's A Meal with Jesus, and read them together.
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