I had the weirdest dream last night. I dreamt that celebrity chef, Fabio Viviani, was in my kitchen cutting the cheese! Because I have the sense of humor of a 12-year-old boy, I giggled at the phrase “cuttin’ the cheese”. But anyway, in my dream, he was shredding this delicious hunk of parmesan cheese and telling me about the complexities of its flavor.
Now this dream isn’t all that far-fetched given that I live in the town where Fabio opened his first restaurant, Cafe Firenze. Years ago, when he first came to town and took over the existing Italian deli where I was a regular, I would frequent the store weekly to buy salami and other Italian cold cuts and products (like every good Sicilian girl). I got a kick out of having a couple of “paisanos” in this random nook of Southern California and enjoyed practicing my broken Italian with him and his business partner, Jacopo.
Then came Top Chef celebritydom and Fabio’s presence became more elusive. But thanks to facebook and twitter, I was able to follow the realization of his American dream.
So given that I haven’t seen the guy in ages and he’s likely to not even remember who I am, it was odd to have him show up in a dream…in my kitchen…cutting the cheese (giggle).
Cut to Scene 2 of my dream and he is making me a ginormous pizza with an amazing crust. I can vividly smell it cooking and can’t wait to sink my teeth into the golden layer of bubbling melted mozzarella. And then I woke up – a little miffed that I hadn’t the chance to take that mouth-watering bite.
Although I was groggy, the revelation wasn’t lost on me. It’s not hard to decipher that my dream is the result of suppressed depression and longing that stems from gluten and dairy deprivation. I miss my carbs…and my cheese! I’m Italian for Pete’s sake. It’s abnormal to not eat pasta, bread and cheese at every meal! So why do I submit myself to this culinary abstinence? Because I love my son. And his Asperger’s symptoms are drastically reduced on a gluten-free, dairy-free diet.
Aspie kids already feel so different from everyone else why add to that feeling by excluding him from eating certain portions of the family meal. I want to support him and show him we’re on his team so I’ve asked my whole family to participate in this diet. I’m not going to lie, it’s been hard, ironically more so for me than for him. In fact, he’s been so compliant and appreciative of my efforts to develop sweet treats that he can eat.
So as my giant pizza slipped away, I laid under the covers and had a pity party for 5 minutes. I remembered the days I used to visit my grandmother in Italy and feast on a chunk of parmesan the size of my head and freshly baked bread from the neighborhood baker. I longed for the sound of the crust as I broke off a warm piece of glutinous heaven. My yearning was so intense, I could practically taste it. Food porn at it’s finest.
And just when I couldn’t take the guilt for indulging in a little food fantasy, I got out of bed to make the boys a breakfast of Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free waffles with sun butter and bananas, sprinkled with nutritional yeast.
And as I prepared gluten-free lunches for school, I remembered that Fabio has new gluten-free items on his menu. I thanked God that there is an increasing awareness in the food industry of special dietary needs. I prayed for strength to continue on in this nutritional plan for health.
And then I giggled again about “cuttin’ the cheese”.