Breaking up is hard to do: Grieving the end of my affair with gluten

Apparently, I was wrong.

I was wrong when I wrote “I don’t care much about food.”

As it turns out, I do.

cheese and bacon biscuits

How could you not love a biscuit with cheese and bacon in it?

In case you’re wondering why I’m writing about food when in that same post we reserved Fridays for food features (and today’s Wednesday), it’s that this isn’t a post about food.  Not really.

It’s a post about relationships.  Relationships to food, yes–but more about relationships to people. And about the love triangle (me, food, relationships) I never knew I was part of until my recent break-up with gluten.

Breaking up with gluten means breaking up with a whole lotta things I love:

Biscuits and gravy at Pine State Biscuits.

Rita eating biscuits


Pie at the Bipartisan Cafe.


Cane’s mac ‘n cheese (the first recipe we tried together).

big dish of mac 'n cheese


A chocolate bar (or Old Fashioned or Bismark or Glazed Raised or…anything at Joe’s Donuts in Sandy (which is far superior to the more famous Voodoo Donuts in P-town).

sugar donuts


My grandma’s spaghetti.

Will last summer, making my Grandma's spaghetti recipe with me.


And breaking up with those things doesn’t just mean learning to live without them.

It means learning to live without the experience of them. I’ve realized that the foods I love are most often eaten with the people I love. Or they remind me of the people I love. Or I make them with the people I love.

There’s just love all mixed up in that food.

Which is why it tastes so good, and it hurts to give it up.

I know–really, I know–that it will get better, just as any breakup does with time.

I know that there are far worse pains I could be suffering.

I know that I am going to discover wonderful foods and experiences that I haven’t known before.

I know that in exploring my relationship with food, I’m going to grow in ways I can’t really anticipate right now. (And it will likely be painful, but it will also be wonderful–as most important growth usually is.)

I know all of that.

I'm pretty sure my learning will be about more than how to cook--though that would be a great place to start.

But right now, where I am is sad.  And I gotta feel the sadness.

I gotta feel sadness that I will never again prod, push, and harangue Cane to get out of bed early on a weekend morning so that we can try to get to Pine State before all the hipsters are lined up out the door, just so we can have some of the best sausage gravy I’ve ever ever ever tasted, which probably tastes so good because it’s dripping off a buttery biscuit.

I gotta feel sadness that I will never again sit in the corner window of Bipartisan Cafe on a sunny weekend afternoon, savoring a slice of flaky crust filled with creamy chocolate and washing it down with a cup of Earl Grey (because I had to give up caffeine, too, last fall).

I gotta feel sadness that I will never again share a Joe’s Donut with one of the kids when I pick them up from school on a Friday afternoon.

None of this really hit me until last weekend, when I realized how many of the things Cane and I do that are tied to food I can no longer eat. On our kid-light weekends, we don’t cook much. Instead, we go out…

sign for Yukon Tavern

…to dive bars to eat big old greasy burgers.

…to bakeries for breakfasts of bacon and eggs served on a bolo roll.

…to coffee shops where we work or people-watch and share an afternoon pastry.

As we kept bumping into my new limitations all weekend, I found myself wondering how I might be able to hang onto pieces of what we’ve always done. I wondered if I could eat burgers without the bun, or if I might be able to go to Bipartisan and scoop the chocolate cream out of the crust and eat just that.

But here, looking at the weekend in the rearview, I’m realizing that kind of thinking is just the bargaining part of the grief process. (And last week’s hissy was the anger part, and now I’m doing the sad part.)

I’m thinking that I need to just break it off completely. I need to hit the gas and not look back.

view through the windshield

We all know how messy it can be when we try to hang onto remnants of a relationship that’s over.  It rarely works when we try to be “just friends” after being so much more, and those old relationships take up mental and emotional space that doesn’t allow room for a new love to come in.

And while I’m not ready to find new people to love, I’m ready to find new foods and experiences to share with them.

So:  I’m moving on. No looking back. No waffling.  (Maybe bad food puns will be my new thing?)

Still, I wish I could’ve had one last kiss to say good-bye.



Bipartisan image credit:  click here or on the image.

Sugary donut image credit:  click here or on the image.

Pine State sign image credit:  click here or on the image.

Yukon Tavern image credit:  click here or on the image.