Saturday, June 25, 2011

Today, I'm a Depressed Italian :(

The typical infertile has a short-term focus:

Step 1, Step 2, and Step 3 - to get pregnant.

Step X, Step Y, and Step Z - to get matched for adoption.

We become so fixated on those few steps we need to do just right in order to achieve our goal, that we don't have much time to think about all of the rest of the steps that follow AFTER our goal has been met.

But in talking over our similar diets for food intolerances with Sew Hormonal, it suddenly dawned on me that my future is not going to be what I had envisioned for my family. Not at all.

You see, growing up with an Italian mother and grandmother who were both ALWAYS in the kitchen cooking something, I knew that someday I would be cooking those same recipes, with my children yelling and playing in the background. I knew those meals would bring back all of the warm memories of my grandmother and of my childhood, and that her very personal and special way of making "gravy" (which is what any REAL Italian calls tomato sauce made with meat or fish) would live on forever through the generations. In short, I wanted my home to smell the way my childhood home always smelled - like a pot of gravy up on the stove :)

Now I realize that not only will I likely need to stay dairy-free for the rest of my life (it was having such OBVIOUS bad effects on me, that literally the same week I eliminated dairy, I noticed huge improvements in my health), but I probably should stay gluten-free, too. And while not everyone has gluten and dairy intolerances, I do think there is something to be said for the fact that there is SO much carbohydrates and dairy in our American diet (along with processed foods), that it is likely a good idea to keep those foods at a minimum for any children that may come into my life. (Though I may have to pry the cheese out of my husband's dead, lifeless hands like Charlton Heston's rifle.)

And so, what does that mean for the future generations of the Viola.s and Grillo.s?

What it means is that we won't be having:

"Macaroni" (what we called anything that wasn't long pasta)
Stuffed Shells
Italian bread
Garlic bread
Chicken Parm
Eggplant Parm

the list goes on.

And trust me, unless the EXACT same ingredients are used, in the EXACT way, it just is NOT the same. So, gluten-free/dairy-free alternatives will not cut it when it comes to recreating a family staple.

These are the foods I lived on growing up. And quite possibly, these are the foods that, when given in overload, caused intolerances in me. I do not want to do that to my children.

But I feel like I'll be robbing them of the joy of Italian cuisine - the joy of my family's talent.

It is so hard.

Man. Now I am really craving eggplant parm.

There'd better be no food intolerances in heaven :) Grandma, start cooking now, cuz I am going to FEAST like no other when I get up there!!


Isaiah 55:8-9 said...

When I found out I was gluten intolerant, I started realizing so many of my family memories involved food!! :) It can be a tough adjustment, but you can do it. You're right - not everything will taste the exact same, but you really can find good alternatives, and things that everyone will love. Create new food memories. And - haha, I'm planning a big FEAST in heaven too. :)

Perfect Power in Weakness said...

Oh, TCIE. I'm so sorry you won't be able to pass on those foods, memories, and parts of your heritage to your children. I like Isaiah's idea of creating new food memories though!

Little JoAnn said...


Do you like Italian Sausage?

Hard and dried and or cooked with "gray" or peppers and onions?

That was the secret of my survival being carb free in an Italian household--in the Bronx, while IF controlled my diet morning, noon and night.

Little JoAnn said...

Sorry that's cooked with gravy...also I forgot to mention HOT.

barbie said...

Beng from south Louisiana, every memory revolves around food for us as well! I would have a VERY hard time cutting out our "staples". ... Totally get where you are coming from!

Jenny said...

I feel your pain! There are a lot of things on my 'probably never going to eat again list' and it is no fun!

Living Advent said...

I think with a little planning we can pass the "good" stuff to our kids. I think the key is eating like we are poor most of the time (after we heal our guts that is). Think about it. What Americans now think of as a regular dinner was once thought of as either a feast for royalty or just for Sundays. Historically you had to be rich to eat meat everyday and the bread that the poor people ate varried by what grains they could get and it wasn't light and fluffy. All this processing and eating stuff out of season has really messed with us but we can teach our children a different way.

E said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JellyBelly said...

I never imagined that I would be baking vegan, gluten, dairy and egg-free with my future offspring, but after struggling with so many health issues that I have discovered since IF, I know that my eating habits are for the better.

Mr JB and I were in full agreement that serving chocolate-avocado pudding to our kids is a good thing (and actually quite easy and tasty).

Cooking is something that my mom sees as a chore and although she did it every night when I lived at home, there was never a sense of enjoyment. I fell in love with being in the kitchen when I first lived away from home and I enjoy trying new recipes.

Maybe it's because I've had to use substitutes for so many things that it doesn't get me down (I didn't have cake until I was in my early 20's!). I know you'll find a way to pass down your new culinary traditions to your babies!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Hello TCIE!!!
It's hard to give up some favorite italian foods and the dream to pass a tradition in the family. As Italian I too I'm crazy about cooking and since we don't have kids I love cooking for our friends and let them discover such a rich culinary tradition. By the way what about risotto or pesce e frutti di mare or frittata or grigliata di verdure or polenta or crocchette di patate? check this website out for new italian cooking ideas.. ;-P

Amy @ This Cross I Embrace said...

Very true, Silvana - and I'm lucky that my husband studied Italian cooking at culinary school too, so there can definately be some traditions that live on. But my ancestors are from the Basilicata (Genzano di Lucania, Potenza), and therefore most of the foods in our family are totally different than the foods up North. But I do love Scungilli salad ;)
I won't lose all Italian cooking, for sure. But most of the pasta dishes and cheese dishes will be gone :(

Anonymous said...

you are right, rice, potatoes and corn are more part of the cuisine from the North of Italy than from areas close to your village of origin but hey.. this year we just celebrated 150 years since the Unity of Italy, maybe you should go in a "culinary trip" to discover the specialty of all the peninsula!!! ;)
Just kidding, I know how is hard to give up some good food like pasta and cheeses; my husband come from a totally different background so I had to learn how to cook with spices and methods that I didn't even know existed before meeting him.. That's amore I guess.. ;*

the misfit said...

When I saw this post title, I thought, "But it's not even soccer season!" Now I get it :). My mom made dinner pretty much every night but she rarely COOKED. It wasn't something she did with any pursuit of excellence - that was the zeal she reserved for her baking. (You see where this is going.) I've enjoyed, as an adult, getting to learn more about cooking than I was accustomed to growing up, and now I enjoy salads with more than iceberg lettuce, and all sorts of vegetables cooked in interesting ways (not just boiled!), and meat cooked until it's juicy, not rubbery. I doubt I'll have children to pass these things on to, but I do enjoy expanding our food choices into some that are more interesting and more healthy. HOWEVER.

My mother was an amazing baker. I still can't get bread or pound cake to turn out as she did, but I've got the pumpkin bread the the bishop's bread and the pie and the cookies down already - some of those things actually took a lot of practice! I'll eventually learn them all. I'm still hoping we find her magnificent Christmas cookie recipes somewhere.

Of course, bread and cookies and pie in excessive quantities are not good for anybody. But I like to think that, if we need to heal our bodies from overexposure to foods that are hard on them, after letting them take it easy, we might develop enough of a tolerance to enjoy them every now and then. For a while, I couldn't eat even a couple of French fries; now I can have a small serving once in a while and I don't get sick.

I guess I can't get my head around the idea of life with never any chocolate chip cookies again :).

My very long-winded $.02...

St. Rita's Roses said... memories!!! Your post made me so hungry for Italian!
Great idea L. Joann- Sausage and peppers..thats an italian staple that is gluten free-no?

Being Refined said...

TCIE, I am so sorry! It is sad not being able to carry on family traditions. The only consolation is that you will make new memories and new family traditions. You will create/discover new recipes you can make as a family and make new traditions.

Made For Another World said...

So sad- it's not like to can take a picture of the food to remember either. So much of the experience is wrapped up in the preparation, the smell and the taste. The only consolation I have to offer is that even if you were able to make it, it still wouldn't be the same as you remember in childhood. Whenever I make recipes that smell and taste the same as my grandma's, there is still that longing that it will never be the same. It's not much while you experience this loss. Have you ever checked out It might give you a bit of comfort ;)