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Life is funny sometimes.

One day you can be traveling down a road—a path that you’ve journeyed on for a long while, a place you’ve always known—and then suddenly the next day be pushed onto another, one that you didn’t see coming, one that you had no idea existed.

This is where I find myself now.

I’d visited a doctor friend for help with something that’s bothered me for a while, and while I was there, he took some blood just to make sure all looked good. At my follow up visit, I learned that the tests uncovered a couple of things that I hadn’t known about.

This included the fact that I am gluten intolerant.

Gluten, of course, is the protein that is found in wheat and other grains. It’s everywhere. And being intolerant means I can’t eat anything that has gluten in it.

My immediate reaction was, “Well, I don’t even eat that much bread or pasta!” But then a mental check of many “once-a-week” treats brought these things to mind: French Toast at Saturday brunch, Sunday morning chocolate croissants, mid-day Wednesday chocolate chip cookies.  But the quantity doesn’t really matter.  Even a small amount, I’ve learned, can send the digestive system into a tailspin for those who have issues with gluten.

I suddenly identified myself as THAT person.  You know her.  Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally, the high maintenance friend, finicky with her food, completely rewriting a chef’s recipe because her way tastes better.  Or so she thinks.  The one who insists on controlling every single thing, who leaves no room for error, the perfectionist who needs to have everything just so.

I don’t want to become that.  Because deep down, I believe there is an order to the world, and that when you relax and allow the flow of life to carry you along, magic is revealed.

In the last week, I’ve felt enveloped with support. Kindness. Understanding.

I’ve seen the beauty of strangers at Scarpetta, a family favorite and one of the tastiest Italian restaurants in New York.  There, the staff generously and unpityingly guided me through the menu, pointing out all of my options.

And they guided me to this dish, amazingly succulent and perfectly representative of the season. The photo doesn’t do its deliciousness justice.


Seared scallops with spring peas, morel mushrooms and a lemon-riesling foam had bursts of bright, fresh flavors and satisfied my hunger for food that nourished my soul.

I’ve felt the warmth of familiar friends at my favorite restaurant Neta, which I’ve written about before on these pages.  This visit was preceded by an email warning of my new food restrictions and was met with the reassuring response, “You’ll be fine.”  And I was.  An omakase chef’s tasting was gluten free, but just as heavenly as it’s ever been.

Neta_Tuna, Uni, Caviar

Sushi of tuna, uni and caviar – words fail me in describing how utterly decadent this was.  These were bites of comfort infused with kindheartedness.

I discovered comraderie on the Gluten Free Girl website.  Finding myself moved by every single page, I alternately cried at the beautifully written and heartfelt words and felt giddy over an abundance of new recipes that my body will love. This site made me feel less alone in my new world.

Sometimes the unexpected can lead to moments of grace. Though life may put you on a different path, the journey can be just as sweet—if not sweeter—than before.

Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?

–Mary Oliver, “Peonies”

Every spring my love affair with peonies is renewed.  I’m obsessed with them.

How can you not be captivated by their beauty, in all of their voluptuous exquisiteness?





Typically blooming only for one week in May and June, their season is short, making their earthly presence that much more exceptional.  I keep a bouquet on my table whenever I can find them as a celebration of the robust, fragrant, magnificent gifts that life gives us.

Peonies are my reminder to be present, appreciate beauty—no matter how fleeting…most especially when it is fleeting—and to take in magical goodness when it is in front of me.

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