an unexpected lunch

We gathered in Seattle for lunch with friends. That normally wouldn’t be noteworthy, but this one was special. The full manuscript of the cookbook is due on Monday. We move in 6 days. We should have stayed hunkered down, me in front of the computer, Danny and Lucy packing books.

But this was Kristin, the fierce jazz musician friend I met at the fine arts camp in Alaska back in 2002. The Kristin who played her bass at our wedding, singing Night and Day, but changing the lyrics to “I want to spend my life making gluten-free food for you!” The Kristin who wandered through the desert of a bad relationship for years. She was in town yesterday, to play some gigs around the area, and to introduce her husband to the people she loves.

Of course we went to lunch. They live in Copenhagen. We couldn’t resist this.

We went to Cuoco, one of Tom Douglas‘ restaurants. I’d never been, and it’s a pasta restaurant, primarily. But I’ve always been treated well at Douglas restaurants and never given any gluten by mistake. I saw prosciutto and mozzarella, a steak salad, and gelato on the menu. I’d find something to eat.

When I explained precisely the situation to the server, he said, “Oh, would you like the gluten-free macaroni? We can make any of the pasta dishes with it instead.”

A tumble of sautéed escarole, pancetta, chilis, and hazelnuts on soft, pliable pasta. Sunlight. Lucy giggling with Kristin. A kind man holding my friend’s hand. A kind man holding mine.

That really was a lovely lunch.

18 comments on “an unexpected lunch

  1. Shuku

    What a truly lovely lunch. 🙂 I’m so glad you managed to have time with your friend. All the best on the moving – I know how much of a hassle that can be, and you’ve got so much in the offing besides! Much love.

    (Ps: One of the best restaurants here locally is going to be offering gluten-free cakes soon. First. Ever. In. My. Country. I am so psyched, I can’t wait. I cried when I read the notice.)

  2. Brooksie

    I wish we had places like that in my area.
    So glad you were able to enjoy a wonderful lunch with wonderful people.

  3. Nadya

    Love it! Especially the kind men, holding your hands!
    We have an Italian cafe in a little town closeby which also offers many menu items w/ GF pasta, holds the croutons on salads, etc! What a joy! And several other restaurants w/ GF menus or selections. Very nice!

  4. JeanELane

    F.F.F. – Family, Friends, Fun
    You can’t forget about these three even in the midst of deadlines.
    Someone once told me, or I read somewhere, that no one dies with an empty inbox. It doesn’t matter if the ‘inbox’ is housework or work-work. I use that sentence often to put some balance in my life!

  5. Shila

    There is something incredibly beautiful about being welcomed and well fed. It’s an art that some restaurants have lost, but I am so incredibly grateful when I find one that does it right.

  6. Debbie

    Yay! I had Valentines dinner there and also had the macaroni….Maninis noodles…they are so great! It might of been my favorite meal ever…it was such a great to eat safely! Hooray for Tom Douglas!

  7. gluten free gift

    Kristin sounds awesome. I need to take a page out of your book and prioritize. Dear friends are the most valuable asset next to your health…. that and of course a kind man holding your hand.

  8. Brianna

    Sounds like a nice lunch but I’m not sure it was necessary to air your friend’s relationship history. I’m sure you would not like it if someone (truthfully) said of you that you were alone, and not by choice, until well into your 40s. Golden rule time.

  9. lili messerhuber

    Thank you for such an exquisite blog entry!
    With very few words it is such a fine tribute to the importance of relationships – between friends, friends and children between spouses.
    And because of the situational context, it is also a tribute to the most important elements of the dining experience: to be in the company of the ones you love and to have understanding staff , excellent food and possibly drink!

  10. Mary


    I love how you tell a story – it always seems to be a love story, be it about food, life, children, etc. Thank you.

    (I actually came on here to ask you what kind of camera you use and saw this story. So, what brand brings these lovely, edible pictures of which we eat with our eyes?)

  11. Brie

    Your pasta looks lovely and I admit to being jealous. I had pasta in a restaurant this weekend. A nice place with truly tasty GF penne. (Not sure what brand, but tastes like Jovial.) It was delicious until I discovered an errant strand of spaghetti hidden in the sauce. And of course I got sick. I’ve eaten at this restaurant before and been fine. The manager was very upset and truly sorry. We were all polite and civilized about it, but that didn’t change the reality: my health is dependent on the kitchen staff caring enough to attend to the details, and somebody didn’t. Most days, I can cope with celiac just fine. Today, not so much.

  12. Chris

    Oh, this post pleases me immensely. I am in Seattle as well and so happy to hear that the Tom Douglas restaurants just might be able to cater to my gluten free needs. I’ve only been off gluten for a couple of months and I’m still figuring which restaurants will work.

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