When I first opened Share the Bounty I gasped. It's beautiful. It's as much a coffee table book as it is a cookbook, with beautifully photographed recipes interspersed with images of wholesome farm life and drool-worthy home decor ideas that could have come from any number of design magazines or Pinterest boards. It's a book I could pore over for days on end, that I could (and will) leave out for my guests to look at, perhaps at a dinner party inspired by the book.
These are the sorts of cookbooks I truly love. With every recipe imaginable readily available with the click of a mouse, I don't have as much use for the strictly utilitarian cookbooks as I once did. In college I made full use of my dog-eared and heavily annotated how-to guides to help me make the perfect vegetarian chili or four-ingredient apple tarts. But today, with internet access everywhere I go and many years of "learning the basics" behind me, what I really want is inspiration. I want a cookbook that makes me gasp.
The particular focus of Share the Bounty is a religious one. It connects the pleasures and goodness of hospitality to Christian ideals of family and community. If this aligns with your own personal religious beliefs, all the better. You'll probably love this book. But even if it doesn't, well, this book's charms are hard to resist, even for the non-religious.
As many readers of my blog know, I frequently review books through the Booksneeze program of Thomas Nelson. They are a Christian publisher so I know going in that the books I get from them will be geared to a Christian audience. Since that doesn't really describe me, I generally try to stick to things like biographies and cookbooks when requesting titles from them. When I do receive a specifically "Christian" book I try to review it honestly without just saying, "Oh I didn't like it because I don't like Christian fiction."
So yes, this is a "Christian cookbook." It has references to God and prayers of thanks. It also has amazing recipes set alongside pictures of children, family, community and nature, which I find deeply inspiring. Family is not a strictly Christian concept and neither is food! But I think all of us can relate to the connections we make with food. What we put on our table connects us to the people around us, it connects us to our own past and our children's future.
Oh, now I'm getting all gushy. But honestly, this book almost made me tear up it's so lovely!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
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Come to the Table: Food, Fellowship, and a Celebration of God's Bounty, by Benita Long (with Sammy Anderson and Steve Wingfield)