From bulimia to life by means of watermelon salad and crab linguine.

This past Tuesday my husband and I celebrated two years since our first date. On July 26th 2014 I took him to Grom, a gelato parlor from my home town, Torino; we haven’t been apart since. 

To celebrate two years together we went on an old-fashioned dinner date. David Lentz‘s The Hungry Cat is one of our favorite spots in town, and that’s where I unexpectedly got the inspiration for this piece.

Until quite recently, in fact, dinner in public was for me a source of anxiety, pain, and discomfort; inspiration was the least of my priorities, had there been more than one, which was exclusively choosing the least caloric (and expensive) dish on the menu.

Before I got sober, almost four years ago, eating at a restaurant was just another opportunity to drink more wine, and good ones, too. Also, high as I was in those years, I barely ate real food; I’d excuse myself as many times as possible to do more blow in the bathroom, and ultimately I’d wait for my Jaegermeister or Sambuca and go get more. What I’m talking about here is the time when my bulimia was at its worst, and when cocaine had become my best friend and strongest ally in controlling my weight (and my feelings). But my fear of restaurants had been there before cocaine nonetheless.

So on Tuesday, my husband and I celebrated two years since our first date. The Hungry Cat holds a special place in our hearts. Small and intimate, this seafood bulimia recoveryrestaurant has three locations in Southern California: Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, and Hollywood, between Selma Avenue and Sunset Boulevard. The food is outstanding, and the cooking sustainable; I like to know where the food I eat comes from, and I like when a chef proudly shares the choice of his sourcing. I like it when they substitute an ingredient because it’s out of season, one of the small things that has the potential to improve the world we’ll all be leaving our children. 

Today not only am I able to care about the food I eat, and about its provenance, but also to enjoy dinner at a restaurant, and look forward to it with anticipation and curiosity. Today I don’t just eat. Today I rejoice in losing myself in the many layers of flavors and textures a dish has to offer; I get inspired at the table, I feel alive, and I am happy.

bulimia the hungry cat hollywoodI had not completely noticed the above until I was presented with the most amazing watermelon salad I ever tasted, topped with queso fresco, the warm and aromatic spice of fresno chili, and the surprising freshness of mint, basil and perfectly ripe heirloom tomatoes. Ben suggested I try the salad; I can still taste the crisp summer fruit melting in my mouth. 

Today not only am I able to enjoy a salad with dressing, but to eat and appreciate a pasta
cooked to perfection, like the crab linguine we had as our main course, with dungeness crab, shaved squash, blue lake beans, tomato and sea urchin.

The food I like is the food that takes me somewhere unexpected; the food I like is the food that keeps me guessing; the food I like is the food that takes me home.

Today I don’t eat too much. I don’t use food to feel better or worse about myself. I don’t over-eat at the dining table, and I don’t have the urge to. At the table, today, I am joyful, inspired, and in love.

bulimia alice carbone tenchToday, free from bulimia, I can wear a bikini and have my husband take a photo to help me share a positive message of hope, when all we hear every day is terror, hate, death, and insanity.

I am not changing the world, but I am changing my life, and with it a small piece of the world around me. 

If you haven’t already, check out the RECIPES page. I upload new recipes almost daily, and my new Caribbean tiramisu is to die for! Let me know if you try any of them. Reach out on Twitter or Instagram at @alicecarbotench — Facebook: @onealicecarbone

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