Monday, March 18, 2013
bread and wine
at 8:35 AM
I've never been much of a food person. I could live off of hot tea, coffee, chai lattes, you name it. And I'm a stickler about drinking plenty of water. But if I'm home alone, I often forget to eat. I'm not sure which is to blame, my lack of appetite or overall ditziness. Probably the latter.
My husband is the cook in the family. He has one of those chef instincts that never ceases to amaze me. He knows which spices taste best on chicken, which wine complements tilapia, how long bread should rise. I, on the other hand, am still terrified of raw chicken and poke at it like it's a science experiment.
But I have always, for whatever reason, loved reading about food. Julia Child's My Life in France captured my imagination and nourished my senses as a broke college student living off of toast and coffee. I devour restaurant reviews and books on food writing. I don't know the first thing about spices or food pairings or even proper pronunciation of foods (I recently pronounced feta "FAY-ta".) But I'm fascinated by it--the flavors, the texture, the romance of it all.
Needless to say, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review Shauna Niequist's Bread and Wine. It's a book that celebrates life around the table; the joy found in nourishing our bodies as well as our spirits when we gather with friends over a meal. It was completely eye-opening. As I read, I found myself smiling and pausing and realizing that maybe this cooking thing isn't just another chore. Maybe it's more important, more life-giving, than it seems.
My favorite part was one of the earlier chapters, where she encourages the reluctant cook to start small, right where they're at. Isn't that the best way to go about doing anything, really? And yet having "permission" to start with something ridiculously simple gave me the courage to try.
"I believe every person should be able to make the simple foods that nourish them, that feel familiar and comforting, that tell the story of who they are. Each one of us should be able to nourish ourselves in the most basic way and to create meals and traditions around the table that tell the story of who we are to the people we care about. And the only way to get there is to start where you are."
One of the recipes she shares is goat cheese scrambled eggs, which calls for only two ingredients. I couldn't think of a better place to start. While I sat on the couch savoring each tangy bite, I didn't care that it took only two ingredients. I had created a meal for myself; just me. I was important enough to cook for; I was worth the extra effort. And as strange as it sounds, I'd never thought of myself that way.
I'm the minimalist type, who doesn't like a lot of fuss or work over something as trivial as food. But I realized that, just as Shauna said, it's important to be able to take care of myself. To mess up the kitchen and get egg yolk all over the counter, even if I'm the only one enjoying the end result.
Since that first pan of eggs I have mastered several more of Shauna's delicious recipes, including flourless chocolate brownies, salad dressing, and sweet potato fries. They're all incredible. And though I am still more than happy to let Trevor do most of the cooking, I have this tiny sense of pride knowing that I can do this. I can cook for myself (and him!) I'm going to keep experimenting and celebrating my victories, however small they may be.
Whether you are a novice chef or just rolling up your sleeves, I highly recommend Bread and Wine. Although you should be warned that your kitchen is about to get extremely messy.