pasta, I’m quitting you

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When I first stopped drinking, I was devastated. For days I wept in the shower with the spigot turned all the way to hot. I was heartbroken not because I was an addict (well, I suppose, that was partly the reason), but because I adored wine. I was a woman who took trips to vineyards, packed bottles of red in her suitcase, and sought out classes to understand the depth and complexity of wine–from grape to barrel. I loved the austerity of a Sancerre and the carnivorous profile of a rioja; nothing compares to pairing a fine meal with a glass of wine.

Except, of course, sobriety. Nothing comes close to the clarity of living a life without the sauce can bring. Trust me on this. I’ve drunk the ocean and feel no better for it.

This is a long-winded way of saying that I’ve decided to kick pasta, for good. Because nothing compares to how nourished and sated I felt before this small dish of cacio e pepe. Tonight was an evening spent with one of my beloveds, and it was a splurge night, so why not? Even before I entered the restaurant, I had my reservations. Considered the chicken under a brick. Reconsidered.

As I was eating my pasta, I started to feel wrong. Know that feeling, that full-body warmth, you experience after you’ve had that first glass of wine? The way your eyes want to close and all you want to feel is the prickly numbness of it? That’s how I felt tonight, sitting in front of a dear friend, not being present. And then the stomach cramps, the itchy skin, the pain and the feeling of boulders under my skin–everything I hadn’t felt only two hours before. How is it that a love can ravage? How is it that the object of your affection becomes tired, old, something like a projector playing old movies?

In the midst of eating, I received an email from my agent. He told me my book was tricky in all the best ways, remarkable and magnificent. Yes, it needs editing, but it’s good. Dare I say great, and all the while I kept thinking, are you fucking kidding me, my stomach hurts this much? Are you kidding me that a thing I thought I loved is again interrupting my happiness? Distracting me from it.

I wondered if writing this even merited a blog post, but tonight was about awareness, and that realization translates into self-care. Because I never thought I’d be happy without drinking, and I am. So much so.

It’s not about what you remove, but what you add. These minor losses pale in comparison to what is gained. So perhaps this realization is worth sharing.

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Last image snapped by my friend Meg. Her rigatoni looks DIVINE, no?

5 thoughts on “pasta, I’m quitting you

  1. I’ve cut down on wine and pasta due to health reasons. Now my tolerance is of a dormouse. A glass and I’m tipsy.

    Are you cutting out all pasta or only wheat pasta? Because there are some reasonable alternatives out there.

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  2. Felicia, you’re not alone. I have a doctor’s appointment this coming Wednesday, but I’m almost certain that I’ll be diagnosed with gluten intolerance. For the past 2 months, I’ve suffered through the most severe bloating. I basically look 3 months pregnant, which is the opposite of my normal appearance. So not quite the same stomach pains as you, but awful discomfort. I quit gluten 2 weeks ago and felt incredible, except for the few minor (yet resulting in huge belly bloat) instances. Even the smallest amount of contamination sets off the bloating. (As in forgetting to scrub my baking pan today to cook Brussels sprouts after photographing shortcakes on it… And the food labels that say “May contain wheat” in fine print.) Anyway, probably more than you wanted to hear, but I’m right there with you and thinking of you!

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  3. Once you start eating differently, your tastes change. The longer you stay away from the pasta (I know, it’s hard. I too love pasta.), the more your body won’t want it And if you do go back for a taste, it prob won’t feel right at all. I’ve been cutting down on gluten w/my daughter and it’s been helped her. She’ s not gluten free but even cutting down helps a whole lot. At any rate, your recipes look amazing lately and SUCH GREAT NEWS about your book. Enjoy the time away!

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    1. Thanks for the warm words of encouragement, Barbara! Regrettably, I’ve learned from my GP and nutritionist that I have to stay off gluten for AT LEAST six months. I was really bummed at first, but I’m trying to reframe this as an opportunity to eat all sorts of different foods. xo

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