Thursday, April 4, 2013
Bread & Wine
Bread & Wine
by Shauna Niequist
Living overseas and moving every few years changes the things that are important in life. How we spend our time as a family is different overseas than it is when living in the US. In America we are very busy running here and there, being involved in lots of activities and taking advantage of the quick and easy way of life. Entertainment is easy, food is easy and transportation to take advantage of these things is easy. When you strip away all the easiness to life you are left with something that is a bit more pure and wholesome at its core. Don't get me wrong, I love America and all the convenience that go with it, but when I look at who our family is today, because we took the easiness away, I am much happier.
One of the very core things that has filled our life here and in New Zealand is food. The preparation of food, eating of food and sharing of food. Suddenly cheap, edible take-out pizza is no longer available. In New Zealand I was disappointed to find that my staple Little Ceasar's Saturday night tradition was gone. We began experimenting with recipes finding the perfect crust, what sauces we liked best and favorite toppings. Here in Colombia we have picked-up playing with pizza once again. We now have kids inviting themselves over for dinner if they know it's a pizza night. My son has sort of adopted crust making to become his speciality. We work side by side mixing flour, salt and water, letting the dough rise then throwing the crusts in the air to make the perfect base for our toppings. We make enough to feed ourselves, our friends and throw a few in the freezer for a quick meal when needed. My son is going off to college in the fall and I wonder who is going to laugh with me, bump into me and share those precious moments making crust in the kitchen.
It's spring break so the kids made a list of activities they wanted to do throughout the week. Go to a movie, ride horses, visit the orphanage, make donuts, make pretzels, and just hang-out together as a family. The kitchen has been busy and the house smells good. My husband came up with an idea to do an “Iron Chef” competition as a family. We divided into two teams, came up with two ingredients that needed to be included in the dish and went to the store together. Pine nuts and bacon flavored three dishes made by the two teams. We moved around the kitchen with surprising ease. One dish was an original creation and another was a modified recipe to fit the ingredients available here in Bogota. We set the table, lit some candles, prayed and enjoyed the fruits of our labors. It was one of those sorts of evenings that will linger in our minds for years to come, the food and the family together in the kitchen and at the table.
When Shauna Niequist posted an opportunity to review her new book Bread & Wine on her blog Hello, I thought “What fun!”. I've read Shauna's two books, Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet and enjoyed each. I didn't know what to expect as I was awaiting my copy of Bread & Wine – a book similar to the two I had read, thoughts on life and God or would it be a cookbook? What a wonderful combination it has turned out to be. Through stories Shauna encourages us to experiment with recipes which is something I am forced to do whether I want to or not! If an ingredient is not available, it's not available and I have to figure something else out. Most of the time it works! I've found that cooking is not as inflexible a science as I had first thought.
The main message in Bread & Wine is that food is the opener for relationships. I believe this to be true. When I find myself reminiscing about home, family and friends, food is often a part of the memories I dwell on. I was reading the book with one half of my mind and mulling over the upcoming book club that I was to be hosting. Suddenly I realized that the lunch was of upmost importance. Filling in a few holes in the menu with suggestions in Shauna's book I cooked the day away. A house full of women and good food provided the perfect atmosphere to sit back, relax and enjoy one another's company. Those times are important to me because we all speak English and I need those relationships in a world filled with Spanish. The food became secondary as we lingered around the table laughing, talking, sharing, eating and drinking.
I hope you find a copy of this book, enjoy it and share it over a cup of coffee with a good friend.