So as that old song goes: "You don’t know what you've got 'til it's gone..." It's old school, but there is some truth to it. Sometimes you realize loss in a painful way as you say goodbye. Is it more painful slowly? Or should it happen fast, like tearing off a Band-Aid? It's hard to say. It depends on the sufferer and what they are saying goodbye to.
I was on my wheat farewell tour for about a month. The first week was full-throttle wheat, every day, every meal, nearly every snack. I had pasta: tortellini in broth, linguine with seafood, orzo with parmesan, and tiny pasta balls with a creamy garlic sauce. And the Italian bread fresh from my oven, crispy and yeasty. Perfect. Don’t forget desserts. I made them, shared them, savored them. I sought out some of my favorites, like blueberry pie with crumb crust, apple pie, lemon buttermilk tart and chocolate chip cookies. It didn't matter that I felt ill for it all, especially by the second week. I ignored the burning pain in my right side--the spot my PCP said was where my small intestine was at... It was like a low grade fever that burned in me. I heard the siren song of my dear, dear wheat and could not stop my gluten orgy. "More... bring on the scratch chicken soup with wide real egg noodles. Mix up pasta dough to make three cheese ravioli with wild mushroom sauce." At the time, the ravs seemed worth the pain in my tummy. More tasty whole wheat cereal at bedtime and hot five-grain cereal at breakfast. More burning feelings.... Yumm.
I laughed about the farewell tour with friends whenever anyone called. It was my excuse to indulge, to bake one last loaf of bread. Two of them went out with us the last weekend of my “tour” to drink craft beer before I had to give that up. I ate some flour tortillas too. My only regret was that I didn’t get the burger with the big wheat bun! I think my family thought I was in total denial every time they read a message full of what wheaty things I enjoyed eating that day. Nope. The real deal was that I knew it was closing--the door that was my portal to wheat paradise. So I leaped in and rolled around like a hog in smelly black mud. Pierogies fried with onions, leek soup thickened with flour, fresh hot English muffins with jam and anything else that had the gluten beast in it! Savoring all my favorites and devouring meals that were built around the wheat I adore. Loved--past tense should be the word, as I was feeling pain more and more as the weeks of the farewell wheat orgy drew on, yet I loved my gluten buddies still. I could clearly feel the symptoms my docs were talking about. The realization came slowly but I finally faced it and knew it was time. Well, almost time....
I grieved privately for the loss of so many things I loved to eat. So I devoured them one last time (and maybe one more). I extended the wheat tour one more week. This was rationalized by my need to eat stuff in the pantry and freezer. I couldn’t afford to pitch it, I thought. So my freezer is a lot emptier and my cravings were satisfied...sort of. Actually, it was like the more I ate the more I craved the pasta and bread of my dreams. It seemed like a cruel joke to have to stop eating all my favorites. It was not funny, though, to think of the illnesses that I could bring upon myself if I continued my farewell tour indefinitely. After about three weeks I came to my senses. I stopped cooking wheat pasta for supper. I gave the half-eaten Utz Specials pretzel bag away. I packed up the bread crumbs and that bag of Italian three cheese tortellini. I gave it all away. Or so I thought.
As I sorted through my pantry and freezer the other day, I found half a loaf of Italian bread in my freezer as well as some angel dinner rolls from the holidays. The cans of tomato soup (wheat in there too!)...more to give away. It is a new beginning. A new world. And scary, to say the least.
But I do enjoy my new GF friends, like the cookies I made the other week and the coconut raspberry muffins. A week ago I made a GF wheat bread with fennel and golden raisins. It was so tasty we each ate four or five slices of it. Thank goodness the loaves were tiny! And the other day I made a yummy cinnamon bread with currants in it. It was almost as good as the real deal. So as one door closes (the golden wheat door) another opens--that of weird flours, beaten egg whites and odd gums added to hold that fake sandwich bread loaf together. More about that next posting.... Peace and a piece of fruit for all my listeners...fruit is pretty much always GF. :)