Late last year, wehad the unique opportunity of testing a recipe for the then-upcoming book, Bread & Wine, by Shauna Niequist -- "a love letter to life around the table, with recipes" (it was released a few weeks ago, here). We were assigned the recipe for the "Simplest Dark Chocolate Mousse”, so I knew it was a sign of many good things to come! The recipe was easy and fabulous, and clearly James takes after his mommy in his ravenous love for chocolate. We all three licked the ramekins clean.
Bread & Wine is currently on top of our stack of bedside reads. It is indeed a love letter, and for us, it is one that feels strikingly personal. The weaving of stories into the recipes that inspired them is deliciously poignant. And the rumination on Paris that precedes the chocolate mousse recipe we tested was so reminiscent of our own perfectly imperfect but magical travel experiences in certain cities we love. This book is soul-nourishment, to be sure.
Over the years, we've received Shauna's other 2 books, Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet, from many different people. All three books are lovely and honest and encouraging, but Bread & Wine struck a particularly resonating chord. Shauna’s stories about food and community and faith seemed right out of our own heads. This was even more apparent upon viewing our finished short film (debuting on Hope Heals May 10, here) where one of the surprising themes that surfaced was the deep importance of food and breaking bread in our experience of life and community.
Jay and I have always been whole-heartedly connected to food (maybe too much so); we even first met in our college cafeteria and have been eating our way through life ever since, I suppose. After my stroke, facing the real possibility of never eating again orally, I realized the necessity of engaging life through food, not just the physical necessity but the deeper hungers, communally and spiritually. Every bite I take today, though sometimes messy or cough-inducing, is a vibrant reminder of gratitude for this seemingly mundane but priceless gift that we've all been given by God, the gift of life around the table.