CHEAP EATS “Rice noodles,” she said. She said, “Rice.”
I couldn’t look her in the eye.
“Corn tortillas,” she said.
I pushed my food around with my fork, added pepper, then hot sauce, then pepper. Then hot sauce.
“Quinoa,” she said.
Neither one of us could clean our plate. From the outside, I thought, this must look like a bad date.
It wasn’t, really. From a strictly romantical standpoint, things were fine between me and Hedgehog. Never been better, from a standpoint strictly romantical.
The problem was that while she was going through the list of things she could still eat, I had thought of something in particular that she couldn’t; the very idea of which, if it didn’t exactly lose me my appetite, definitely gave it some bad directions.
I knew the same thought hadn’t occurred to her yet, because she wasn’t crying hysterically. She wasn’t even weeping. She was glum.
“What?” she said. “What is it?”
“You don’t know?” I couldn’t believe it hadn’t occurred to her. To stall for time, I took a sip of water. Then a slug of limeade. “I’m not going to tell you here,” I decided. “We don’t want to make a scene.”
“What, what?” she said.
“Tell you later. After, in the car.”
“How bad can it be?” she said. “I can still have garlic. How bad can life be, with garlic in it.”
That’s an exact quote, said by Hedgehog over a bowl of gluten-free pasta with goat cheese, at Homeroom, Oakland’s mac and cheese joint.
Now: mac and cheese might seem like a funny thing to “go out for” to celebrate (word choice?) one’s newly diagnosed sensitivities to gluten and cow’s milk . . . but not even Oakland is New Orleans.
(And that’s an exact quote by me.)
We checked: Homeroom did have gluten free options, and goat cheese options. And, for those of us who can still indulge in cow and wheat things (meeeeee!!!…) … they have plenty of goudas and pecorinos and such — but I say, if you’re going to eat mac and cheese, eat it as mac-and-cheesily as possible. Get the Trailer Mac. It has, you know, cheddar. With chunks of hot dogs and a sprinkling of crumpled potato chips on top. Surprisingly (or not, given the circumstances) I had a hard time making this taste good. Pepper, hot sauce, pepper, etc.
This wasn’t the hot dog’s fault. They use Niman Ranch hot dogs. Which are good ‘uns, although, come to think of it, I spent many years living in trailer parks without ever once eating a designer hot dog. So .. .
Anyway, all this happened a month or two ago and should help you understand why, for many weeks in a row, since, we ate nothing but Vietnamese food. Because rice noodles are good. Whereas gluten-free pasta sopping in a soggy goat cheese sauce is, in a word, not.
Ugh. Poor Hedgehog. I mean, at home in my laboratory, which is now stocked with fucking Bob’s fucking Red fucking Mill expenso-flours, just like most kitchens these days, I have since learned to make edible gluten-free pizza, and bread, which she cheerfully eats, and gluten-free egg noodles which even I will cheerfully eat.
Next I’m tackling waffles, then Caribbean-style chickpea-flour roti. Honestly, this is fun. But between me and you, I absolutely hate the person in the world who (quite possibly mis-) diagnosed my baby’s sensitivity to gluten.
I told her in the crosswalk. We were bringing our macs and cheeses home from Homeroom because we knew they’d taste better the next day, over-reheated under a broiler.
“Kimchi burritos,” I said.
In retrospect, I should have waited until we were all the way across the street, but hindsight is always fifty-fifty.
Wait. Is that what hindsight is? *
Tue.-Thu. & Sun.: 11 a.m. — 9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.- 10 p.m.
400 40th St., Oakl.
Beer & Wine
Follow L.E. on Twitter: @lechickenfarmer