Peter Reinhart is a highly skilled bread-maker and author of the James Beard Award-winning cookbook Crust & Crumb. Look in the new Joy of Cooking and you'll find him as the editor of the chapter on bread. Reinhart also has been a spiritual seeker for the past 25 years sampling the teachings of various gurus, living in monasteries, visiting sacred sites, and practicing meditation. This relaxed and cordial volume draws together these two aspects of his life as the author compares the various stages of bread-making with the soul's unfurling.

At present, Reinhart is a lay brother in the Christ the Saviour Brotherhood, an Eastern Orthodox service order. Here is where he has come to see most clearly his "interior priesthood" and the realization of himself in the image and likeness of God. This process is called "divinization" or theosis, a term for union with God.

Reinhart anticipates our curiosity about this term and our question: "How is divinization manifested in life?" It is manifested in virtue, specifically courtesy. Or as the author states: "Two simple words, thank you, unleash a wave of communion-like energy that connects two passing souls for an instant in a deep and profound way. Basic civility is like the bond that is formed when we share a meal with another. It is a priestly act."

The chapter on "Acquiring Virtue" is worth the price of the entire book. Of course, Reinhart is a switch-hitter who also provides the added value of recipes for challah (the braided Sabbath egg bread of Judaism), French bread, sourdough, pita, and struan, the author's own signature bread.