Words will never convey the astonishing time we shared together. I’ve been trying for the past two days to swim through the murky waters of jet lag and write something evocative of the honeymoon in Italy. This little montage is the closest to approaching it yet:
fresh buffalo mozzarella with green Umbrian olive oil; red heirloom tomatoes so fresh and bright that I started to cry when I had my first bite; cappuccinos from Caffe Sant’Eustacio in the middle of Rome, so damned good that the Chef and I went back every day for more; driving up the mountains of Umbria toward Gubbio — a little city made of stone and slate in the 1200s — and passing acres of grey-gree olive trees.
We ate well, laughed more, played Parcheesi at night in our little farm apartment while listening to the pig in the barn (!), walked five to ten miles every day, drank wine with every meal and were never drunk, had glasses of wine with friends on the piazza in Montefalco and then ambled across it for gelato. I ate gelato every day (the best was GROM in Florence), and in Rome the last day I found gluten-free cones with my Sicilian cassata gelato. We made great friends, ate at the taverna in Foligno (this amazing medieval hall only open two weeks out of the year for the Quintana), walked the streets of Norcia drunk on the smell of truffles, walked all over Rome and watched people lean against buildings built in 500 BC while they waited for their bus. We spent ten days together, eating and drinking and laughing, neither of us working, the email a deliberate stop, the cell phone not working, and we never once grew tired of each other or bored. It was the most amazing time of my life.
It’s a little hard to come back.
But it has been exhilarating to return home, jet lag and all. Last week, Newsweek magazine ran a piece about celiac, which contained a quote from me and mentioned the book. On Sunday, the Seattle Times ran a little profile of me and the Chef. And today, I had a telephone interview with someone from The New York Times. It makes my heart soar with pleasure to see living gluten-free receiving so much mainstream attention.
Someday, I hope, it will be as graciously easy to eat gluten-free in the States as it was for me in Italy.
I have so many stories. And I promise to share them, as I can. Expect pieces here about Salvatore, cooking with Judy in Florence, wandering through the streets of Norcia, and the three-hour lunch in Gubbio. Jen and Federico — my goodness, what people. Hubert and Pat — we love you. The Chef and I both returned, bedazzled and happy, and sure that we are changed by the entire experience.
But it will take me a few days to be more coherent. Rather than wait, however, I had to share this.
The first copy of my book arrived in the mail today. I held it in my hands.
When I pulled it out of the envelope, and saw a real book with my name on it, I sat on the steps of the front porch and cried. My god, I remember being eight years old, in the stacks of books at the Cal Poly library with my family, and gazing up at those shelves. “Someday,” I thought, “I’m going to write one of those.”
The book will hit the stores October 12th. I’ll tell you more about this later. I hope to meet some of you on the road. I hope that you’ll enjoy it. I hope that many people buy it, because my intention is clear: I want to help people with this book.
But right now, I have to say, I feel done. I wrote a book. It is in my hands. And it is beautiful.