There's No Relationship Challenge Quite Like Dating an Italian When You Have Diet Restrictions
Scoliosis and terrible eyesight were two of the more benign, nerdy ailments that plagued me in high school. Next would be irritable bowel syndrome, which took longer to diagnose as my guts seemed to be perpetually bent into an angry, torturous fist.
Just as I was circling in on the notion that my bowel issues were related to gluten and lactose, I started dating a young woman named Brittany. And Brittany, bless her, was Italian.
If you don't already know, cheese and gluten are their own food groups in Italian culture -- and one's ability to overeat is nothing short of an achievement.
I liked Brittany. So I decided to ignore my gut. Love was supposed to hurt, right? I decided early on to withhold the fact that their homemade pasta recipe handed down from Marco Polo would wreak havoc in my bodily systems.
You show love for Italians by eating everything they put in front of you
Brittany’s dad opened the front door the first time I went over to her family's house for dinner. “Brittany!” he shouted upstairs, neck veins bulging. “Your friend!” He invited me inside, turned, and walked away while saying something about a soccer match on TV. I stood in the front hallway alone for a minute, then decided to follow the smell of home cooking to the kitchen. Brittany's mother was in there preparing for the feast: pasta and cheeses piled high, smelling delicious, and giving me instant anxiety over what was about to happen to my insides.
I don’t remember much else that night, besides slipping in and out of consciousness during the waves of food. I also recall Brittany’s mom continuously saying, “Mangia, mangia!” to everyone at the table. It took three days to fully recover.
Once you're accepted into the family, precautions must be made
I must’ve made a good impression on my girl’s parents because I was invited for another dinner. But this time, I took digestive tablets and meditated for days leading up to the big event.
The night went pretty smoothly, until after dinner when her dad caught us cuddling in our underwear. There was some yelling in Italian, I tried to climb out onto the roof, her dad sat me down for a drink, we had some more drinks, we started dancing... it was a wild night.
These Italian dinners became manageable until wedding season came around. I don’t know how it’s possible, but Italians get married more than everyone else. And so I was penciled in for several of them.
Italian weddings are nine courses of suffering for guys like me. I noticed the fiery parallels with Dante’s Inferno, which I just happened to be reading in one of my classes at the time.
Even without these ceremonies, I couldn’t survive this abuse. I didn’t know what to do. As an awkward teenager, my options were to continue on this destructive path or break up with Brittany.
And finally, lines must be drawn
I digested the idea for a couple of days. Brittany and her family had my heart, but I couldn’t afford to give them my stomach. So, I ended things.
I think Brittany's mom was most heartbroken of any of us. The lady ultimately wanted nothing more than for me to gorge on her food, and I wanted nothing more than to grow fat and happy by her side.
A few years later, I reignited my love affair with cheese and gluten. Let’s be real: there was no way I would avoid pizza and pasta for the rest of my life. My stomach and I have decided it’s worth all the pain -- at least, in small doses.
This stubborn diet choice means I’m once again open to dating women with exotic food backgrounds. Find me on Twitter, ladies.
Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.