I am not the target market for this book. It's giggle worthy that I felt so blessed by a collection of essays centered on cooking. If you've read my second book (chapter three) you know that meal production is not my strong suit, and that Steve and I launched our marriage with a 40 pound weight gain, a borderline case of salt-poisoning, and this persistent a-hem sound we'd make from the backs of our throats due to my belief that "saute in butter" was the best way to prepare all food. Things have improved since then, but I still don't collect recipes or wake up dreaming of dinner, and neither of us is what you'd call a foodie.
But here's the thing: Shauna Niequist writes in a way that suggests that even though she & I don't share this passion, we could still be friends. We might laugh about my lack of culinary curiosity, and perhaps we'd find something I love that she thinks is equally baffling (I'll just bet she can't twirl a baton! Oh wait, she's from the Midwest. I bet she can...) She's a fun person to spend a few hundred pages with.
A favorite moment came on page 37, where she says:
"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."
I laughed out loud, imagining inviting her to my house for a baloney sandwich with mayonnaise, mustard, American cheese & four slices of cucumber.... my favorite food since I was nine years old. I'd pair it with a chocolate martini :) I don't think this is what she had in mind, and yet the idea of a baloney sandwich party sounds like so much fun, I'm inspired to give it a try. Thank you, Shauna.
The book is about more than food. It's also about friendship and marriage and parenting, and the hard times we all go through wondering if/how life will work out. She's candid about her struggles with shame and body image, and the temptation to believe that everyone's online persona is the truth about them and that you're the only one who hasn't yet mastered life. So even though she talks about "dressing greens" like something everybody does, she makes me feel safe admitting that my greens tend to run naked across my plate.
And if you ARE a foodie? You will love this book even more. She includes recipes for everything you can imagine, and even has a chapter toward the end where she admits that not every night in her house is a gourmet extravaganza--that the weeknight stress of getting dinner on the table requires a plan and some easy go-to options.
For all my reluctant protests, I might try the risotto recipe (pray for me!) It involves the top of the stove (my comfort zone), a process that is sort of sauté-like, and wine. If I pull it off and everyone survives the experience, I'll let you know. In the meantime, I'll be giving this book to my foodie friends, with the chapter on Bacon-Wrapped Dates strategically highlighted.