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Whole What?

March 21, 2012

I’m a noodle lover. You can serve them any which way – spaghetti, fettuccine alfredo, cold penne salad, kugel, lasagna, saimin – it doesn’t matter. I’ll eat my share and ask for more. If there were a Pasta-holics Anonymous I’d refuse to join; it’s that bad. So when the doctor’s edict was handed down – no white flour or sugar – pasta was the first casualty.

Many of my favorite foods have been easy to replace. Switching back to brown rice was simple. Whole wheat bread costs a little more but tastes just as good. I can bake anything with honey; last week it was granola. And I’m even getting used to quinoa as a replacement for cous-cous.

But I haven’t been able to make the leap to whole wheat pasta. The very thought conjures up childhood memories of overcooked yet grainy noodle-mush from a certain friend’s sleepover. So I skipped mac-n-cheese for my birthday and didn’t partake in Eva’s birthday lasagna, even though I cooked it. I’ve made buckwheat noodles a couple of times and dressed them with olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and blanched broccoli. It was good, but it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t Italian enough.

Of course noodles originally came from China – Marco Polo introduced egg noodles to Europe where they were transformed into the products we’ve come to know and love. And Oriental noodles still do exist as a viable option: buckwheat pasta can also be stir-fried with onions, cabbage, carrots, broccoli, and teriyaki sauce (home-made with honey, preferably).

Still, it’s not Italian. As of last night it had been six noodle-less weeks and I couldn’t take it anymore. I needed pasta! I needed noodles that felt like noodles drenched with tomato sauce slurping their way up my chin and staining my clothes. I needed mozzarella. I needed carb heaven inside my belly.

So I took out the box of whole wheat spaghetti I’d purchased in the first week of my dietary redirection and hidden in the top cupboard. I looked at it sadly. You and I have to learn how to get along. I made sure the sauce was hearty; plenty of onions and garlic, bell peppers and carrots. Garbanzo beans. Even some pintos right out of the cooking pot (not so concerned about ethnic origin here, apparently). Then I boiled the noodles.

I hovered over that pot like it was a witch’s cauldron. Once the noodles softened I stirred and tasted them regularly. They weren’t going to turn to mush on me, but I did want them softer than the spaghetti my dear wife cooked when she had pneumonia (The poor lady could barely walk and definitely couldn’t eat – not even to taste what she was cooking – yet she made dinner anyway. I’ve never had the heart to tell her how it came out. Thanks, honey).

Now’s about when I’m supposed to tell you it wasn’t that bad and you’re supposed to say bullshit and stop reading. He obviously has an agenda, because we all know whole wheat pasta doesn’t compare to the real thing. So I won’t go there. I’m sure any side-by-side taste test would highlight obvious differences. I’m sure anyone – including myself – could pick the white from the wheat, and probably prefer it.

But I will tell you this: after six weeks of having no pasta whatsoever, I don’t remember exactly what it tastes like. I’ve forgotten what I’ve been missing. So while the whole wheat noodles might not have tasted as good as my memory of white noodles, they were good enough.

They weren’t grainy or mushy. They actually felt like spaghetti. They slurped up my chin and stained my clothes. They melted the mozzarella. And they landed in my gut like an unopened parachute. Straight to carb heaven.

One dietary casualty resurrected. Next up on Lazarus’s list: chocolate chips!

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From → Journal

One Comment
  1. Prana permalink

    Glad it was good enough! Funny, I made that transition without any anxiety. Whole wheat pasta is fine by me. And my family doesn’t complain either. Here’s to lots of spaghetti! Love, Prana

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