Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cheaters never prosper.

I was so close to calling the whole thing off this past weekend.

It's like I had a "Come to Jesus" moment but it wasn't really Jesus, it was a bowl of my own homemade pasta.

I was doing a private dinner party for 11. This stock broker from L.A. arranged the dinner for his clients in Seattle. The host, a larger than life Sicilian-American with a name pulled straight from the Sopranos and a long past in Bayonne, New Jersey hired me to create my version of "momma's sunday italian dinners" gone upscale.

The menu:

Grilled eggplant with verde sauce of parsley, lemon and capers
House-marinated olives with herbs, fennel crackers
Slow-roasted fennel with rosemary and roasted red peppers
Charcuterie (Cullatello from the heart of the prosciutto, hot soppressatta and salami) from Salumi of local fame

Homemade Pappardelle with Braised Pork and Beef Short Rib Sauce with Red Wine (cooked at 225 degrees while we slept the night before the party - thanks to C. for sharing the recipe)
Broccoli Rabe (aka rapini) sauteed with garlic (my assistant extraordinaire tasted for me), pine nuts and golden raisins

Heirloom Tomato Caprese with Housemade Mozzarella (total failure, sub store bought at last moment), Basil and Balsamic

Roasted Fresh Figs with Red wine reduction, Homemade Ricotta with honey (salvaged from failed Mozzarella experiment)


Lemon-polenta cake with olive oil ice cream, raspberries and basil-rosemary sugar

I will tell you that I cheated on this particular evening. My doctor told me that - due to my particular professional needs - tasting was possible, spitting better. I tried the spit method until I made the pasta sauce and asked my wine goddess and my friend bg to taste it. I could tell by their expressions that it lacked a lot.

"*$^%% it!" I said. "I can't do my job and not TASTE my own food!" Tasting wine is certainly possible when spitting, but still not ideal. To truly taste food I think you really need to swallow it. There are taste buds for detecting bitterness at the very back of your tongue and those that detect sour start at the front and line the sides of your tongue all the way to the back. Perhaps, though, my difficulty truly tasting was due to my intense regret at having to spew such yumminess; the whole messy affair left my concentration a little lacking.

I cheated that night. I ate little tastes of pasta, little spoons of tomato sauce, and then... how the disciplined fall - little sips of wine - just to make sure the bottle was sound, of course (clears throat nervously).

Oh, how it all tasted so, so good. I felt self-righteous. I felt relief. Screw it, I said. I'm done with this bullshit.

The next morning my stomach felt bad for the first time in the last two weeks. Guilt? Maybe. Probably not. My wine goddess held my shoulders and reminded me that I can do this. That being disciplined is a good thing. The hardest thing. But worth it. Not only for what I'm learning but for the information this experiment will give me. If I give up now, I won't know if it could have worked. I won't know how my body reacts to foods individually.

And for anyone out there who thinks that when my 90 days are up I just start eating everything right away. Not so. After 90 days, I add one new food every 4 days and record how it makes me feel. No reaction? Back in my diet it goes. Reaction? Wait another 3 months and try again.

What will be the first thing I test? Brewer's yeast. That's right, as found in a glass of red wine.

Which leads me to a question:

If you were on this elimination diet, what would be the first food on the list you'd add back in? (Remember, you can't say pizza, because that would have wheat, tomato and cheese in it).


Anonymous said...

I'm putting back cane sugar first thing! Not because I want sugar. I can use beet sugar and agave nectar and all that. But all the REAL chocolate uses cane sugar. And all the sugar-free chocolate has milk fat or something else in it that I can't eat. So cane sugar is first! And that will open up a whole host of gluten free cereals and alternative dairy products, like soy yogurt. It's not so hard to find gluten-free or dairy-free products. It's darn near impossible to find gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, cane-sugar-free, canola-free, and yeast-free!

As for tasting, I so get it! It is so hard to do my catering job when I can't taste what I'm making. "Here, taste this" is my new mantra. My coworkers must be sick of it!

Don't give up! You can do this. And technically, 12 weeks is 84 days, not 90. And the booklet says do this for 12 weeks, so I'm going to be literal about it. (-:
Oh, but it also says to add 1's back before 2's. So I hope yeast is a 1 on your list.

-- Julie

Becky said...

ohmigod Julie, you rock! I've just adjusted my calendar to reflect 84 days, not 90 (but do I add a day for every one I cheat?)

and thanks for your great email the other day!

Skintight Tamper Bunny said...

first food back? garlic or chocolate. sorry, that's two foods. then how about garlichocolate? (definitiely one food — you just have to eat them in parallel, or serially very quickly. seriously, this has been proven. one food. it's a scientific fact. how do i know? as my son says: "my brain just told me." and you don't mess with the brain.)

or maybe just mallomars. (mallomars are their own food group, right? no, really, the *have* to be!)

this is harder than i thought.