I don't know about you, but I have never read any of Shauna's books before. Bread & Wine was a delight, the perfect book to get back into the swing of reading post-baby (I mean, there is a recipe at the end of nearly every chapter!) When I announced this as my next #bloggerbookclub book, a friend asked, isn't that a cookbook? Well, yes, but so much more. And let's be honest, even if it was just a cookbook, it might still have been the first book I read since Hudson was born. While the food sounds delicious, it is the raw emotion Shauna shares that continually had me nodding my head and thanking her as if she were sitting at a bistro table with me. For fear of this post getting out of control, I am only going to touch the first half of her book here today, the second half will be on Friday.
Shauna describes her life, her heart, her soul and how it is connected to spending time with people, preparing food, eating with them, and sharing the deepest parts of her heart with her family and friends around a table. The way she describes certain moments - well, I felt like I was experiencing them with her, firsthand. She writes with such poignancy and such depth about her life's real moments.
Author's Note & Introduction: Shauna's prayer for this book is that we too can foster community and family over our dinner tables. I love how she writes "you'll gather people you love around your table...to be heard and fed and nourished." pg. 10 Throughout the book, Shauna shares the core of developing deepening relationships with family, friends, community, and God; how meeting people where they are and spending time together over a meal can become a spiritual encounter. This made me itch in the best possible way. I mentally began planning meals with friends, invite lists in my head, from the very beginning of the book. What a beautiful reminder that the dishes and the laundry and the tantrums don't matter; that I am happiest when our house is full. The idea of serving people at the table, it is life-giving.
Shauna writes of her mom being healthy before it was trendy (and she has already confessed to loving processed cheese). This is my kind of girl! With so many fad diets and people newly becoming free of this that and the other thing, it was interesting to read the lengths at which Shauna's mom went, even while living modestly. Eating healthy isn't cheap, but doesn't have to break the bank.
Blueberries. Obviously we are kindred spirits.
Community, "your tribe" (the same verbiage as Bloom)
"It doesn't take a decade and it doesn't take three times a week." pg. 31
Start Where You Are: Where are you at on the cooking spectrum of freezer aisle to scratch chef? What are your traditions? Where are you in this journey? What are your favorite cookbooks? (and do you read them in bed?!)
Go-To Risotto: Can I confess I've never made a risotto. I am not a baker. My cooking tends to be a mishmash of ingredients haphazardly following a recipe, with continual adjustments. Risotto seems like the perfect dish for me. I have never been more grateful for a cooking description than "sinkholes" pg. 44. Do you make risotto? What is your favorite recipe?
On Tea and Pajamas: Shauna writes, "What I really want more than food is an external voice to say, 'You've done enough. It is OK to be tired.' The work I'm doing now is to let those words fall deeply on me." pg. 71 This is where I am right now. Desperately in need of being told that I can rest, that I should rest. That the work will wait.
I can't talk about this book with out mentioning the ever pressent journey of motherhood - the struggles of loss and difficulty. I can hardly count the number of women for whom I pray healing in this area. Prayers, upon prayers, upon prayers for children, and healing, and recovering. I cannot pretend to know what that journey of womanhood is like, so I won't. I hope that I can be the friend showing up with safety goggles. (referencing pg. 57)
Jazz and Curry: The three time plan to cooking feels liberating. "Recipes are the scales, the training wheels, the paint bu numbers that lead us to jazz, two-wheel riding, and our very own blank canvas." pg. 101 Shauna mentions her go to Mango Curry (and later on White Chicken Chili) as her meal staples - the items she cooks again and again. What are your go to meals? Do you have a default recipe that you turn to when company springs up?
Open the Door: It was so encouraging to read about Shauna's first home, hosting parties in unlikely corners of her house because that was the only way to fit everyone in. Mark and I have always living in a few hundred square feet, I am not sure any of our apartments have topped a thousand. Most of our apartments could fit inside many of our friend's kitchens. In spite of these space constraints, we have hosted our alma mater lacrosse teams when they were playing nearby, countless DC interns every new semester, and friends visiting, willing to sleep toe to toe just to fit. In fact, we have people over so frequently amidst the mess and chaos that recently a friend exclaimed, "Wow, your house looks so clean." after I had reorganized a bit. Yikes! Me not looking presentable is a greater barrier than my house being messy. What hinders you from opening your door?
Baking Cookies with Batman: Do you bake with your kids? Or cook with your parents growing up? I most remember cooking with my Yia-yia and my sister Julia, even though I know I cooked with my mom almost every day.
Morning, Noon, and Night: Shauna's description of her nausea while pregnant made me think she was writing about my pregnancies. I especially enjoyed the way Henry supported her, Behr cheered for me. It was kind and funny and also depressing. I'll spare you the details. She also confesses her difficulty in accepting help. "I'm a get-stuff-done person. I'm a utility player, a workhorse." pg. 119 Again, I felt like Shauna was talking directly to me. I am a the utility player she talks about. I have been a bridesmaid only twice, most of the time a friend tells me they are getting married and asks if I can be their coordination person the day of. I don't think I have ever gone to a wedding without a laundry list of tasks. That is who I am, but it is not the only thing I have to be. "I've long wanted to be better at accepting help, better at admitting weakness, better at trusting that people love me not for what I can do but just because they do." pg. 120
Cupcake in the Oven: This is the point in the book in which the sobs began. The raw emotion of Kristi's story got me. Cancer always does. A family member (who prefers not to talk about it) fought cancer for years of my childhood - they have been in remission long enough to be "cured" but I know those cancer cells are still inside them. It is terrifying. The list of ties and stories in my own life go on. A friend who shared this last pregnancy, even being due on the same day, lost her father right before our kids were born. My grandfather passed away the day after we found out we were pregnant with Behr. One of my closest family members passed away before meeting either of my children. The emotions of Kristi's story brought out the ugly cry.
Feasting and Fasting: I love her approach to eating here. It is like everything in moderation, but better. Do you relate to having times/seasons for feasting and fasting?
Baby Mac: The arrival of Mac concludes part two of the book and the first half of book club. We can talk more about the book (and Mac of course) on Friday.
I love to hear your thoughts, emotions, reactions to this book as well as some of the questions I asked. Feel free to share your favorite recipes or parts of the first half of the book that I didn't mention here. And if you want to receive the discussion via email, make sure to hit "subscribe to comments" when you leave yours. This will allow you to receive the comments emailed, but for this specific post, not my whole blog.
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