Nourishment, not Nutrients

bread and wine, nourishment,

I have a new vocabulary word.

It’s not so much new as it is renewed.

Nourish.

What, you’ve heard it before? I have, too. But it wasn’t until I read Shauna Niequist’s book, “Bread & Wine,” that I finally understood it.

Just for grins, I looked up the definition on Dictionary.com: “To sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth.”

Life, health, and growth. Not perfect bodies, flat stomachs, and perky butts.

Bread & Wine is a collection of essays about family relationships, friendships, and the meals that bring us together. It’s a celebration of food shared, reminding readers of the joy found in a life around the table. It’s about the ways God teaches and nourishes people as they nourish the people around them. It’s about hunger, both physical and otherwise, and the connections between the two.*

#breadandwine dinner club Shauna Niequest

Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequest. Photo #TNTCreations2017

The last few weeks have blessed me with nourishing experiences from friends, family, and a bit of myself.

Two weeks ago, I sat at a kitchen island with two dear college friends, enjoying a meal from this book/cookbook. I expressed enough interest that my host friend lovingly surprised me with this precious book five days later upon my return home.

Immediately I dug in, leaving behind a 90% complete Anne Lamott book and ignoring this month’s book club’s selection.

No regrets.

Author Shauna Niequist doesn’t know we are best friends, but we are. Her writing is raw, authentic, and vulnerable. She confided secrets in me and revealed heartbreak. And she’s unapologetic in her love of wine and martinis (I prefer margaritas but I’ll let that difference slide).

Repeatedly, she discusses nourishing her people. Her husband, who discovers food issues. Her cooking club. Her sons, her friends, her family.

Nourish.

Not healthy. Not nutritious. Nourish, which reaches through the stomach and leaks into our souls. Nourishment, which fills us with joy, love, fond memories, and extends out, glorifying God.

Two nights ago, I had a girl’s night out scheduled with my bible study sisters. We planned to meet at a restaurant, but after reading this book I asked the organizer if I might please host. I wanted to emulate my new best friend. The organizer graciously humored me. I spent the day before the event meal planning and prepping. Chopping, rinsing, draining, chopping, wrapping, stuffing, and chopping. Did I mention chopping?

Table for five ready. Photo #TNTCreations2017

And as I was cleaning up the santoku knife, chipped melamine mixing bowl, 20-year old wooden cutting board with a split in the corner, strainer, and all the other kitchen tools, I just rolled the word around in my head.

Nourish.

It felt vaguely familiar, as if I had used it recently.

As I washed these dishes, both of my boys thanked me for the dinner I threw together. My husband was out of town and our routine was off. That night’s meal was prepared in exactly eight minutes. Salt and peppered chicken, pan seared in olive oil. Transfer the chicken to plates, add in more olive oil, butter, chicken broth, and dijon mustard. (Don’t judge the fat — they’re bottomless pits right now.) Simmer a minute or two and pour on top of the chicken. Dump some of the weekly batch of chopped salad in a bowl, douse with honey mustard dressing, and finally slap a couple leftover pieces of 7-grain bread on their plate.

While eating, we laughed and caught up from a rare summer day we spent apart.

“Thanks, Mom. That was really good.”

I nourished them.

It was exactly what I also wanted to give these bible study sisters. I had dreams of sitting around the table with the food from my BFF Shauna’s book, from the “Run Fast Eat Slow” cookbook, and from my own dishes I prepare on Sunday nights. I wanted to sit with our mostly-empty plates and very empty wine glasses and get caught up on the summer we haven’t spent together. I wished to tell them how meaningful they are to me and how much I love them.

Bread and Wine dinner: roasted brussels sprouts, roasted rosemary potatoes, kale and arugula salad from Run Fast Eat Slow

Side offerings: Roasted Rosemary Potatoes, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Kale Radicchio Salad.  Photo: #TNTCreations2017

We enjoyed a lovely evening. Our conversation around the table lasted until nearly 10:00pm. We partially got caught up from the summer. Both the plates and wine glasses were mostly empty.  Except my stem glass — completely empty, of course.  A certain someone may have talked about her blog and speaking more than she planned. Unfortunately I never told them how much I value them (Sisters: If you’re reading this, please know how precious and treasured you are to me.) Hopefully they know, or at least felt it through the meal.

 

Bread and Wine Shauna Niequest Bible Study dinner gathering

#BreadAndWine with some of my bible study sisters

As I washed the aforementioned kitchen tools the day before the dinner party, it hit me: Yes, I have used the word “nourish.” Every time it’s my turn to say a pre-dinner blessing, in fact. I typically end with something like, “Bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies.”

It just took me this long to figure out it’s more than nutrients. More than macros — fat, carbs, protein. More than scientific refueling after football and track practice. It’s stories, memories, and oxytocin-producing, warm-in-my-soul feelings that happen with nourishment.

Proper nutrients definitely have their place. And poor foods, however fulfilling they may be for the soul, won’t keep my body functioning well for as long as possible. But pairing quality food with stellar people and lasting memories?

That’s nourishment.

*From Amazon.com’s description

focus on nourishment not nutrients

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