"A Knife, A Fork, A Bottle And A Cork.
That's How We Spell New York."
On Sunday evening my parents and I celebrated my acceptance to business school at Perilla, the restaurant had the above line from a Dillinger song framed outside the bathrooms and I could think of no better saying that defined why I loved this city. Almost all of my favorite memories in Manhattan can be linked to a type of food or a meal. My love of culinary conquests was greatly challenged when I was diagnosed with Type 1 but with the right balance of training and nutrition I still get to reward myself.
Prior to my Type 1 days my favorite chowhound and I would traipse all over the city in search of culinary delights. Finding us standing online for a Hallal Cart on 53rd street for an hour wasn't that uncommon. At any given point in the day a phone call might have taken us away from scouring message boards in our search for that next great hidden spot. Fancy meals, cheap eats, holes in the wall, it didn't matter as long as the flavor jumped off our tongues and the wine flowed freely. From a $600 meal at Babbo to a $5 meal at the Cart I had a fantastic time finding food.
My biggest fear when I was diagnosed with Type 1 was that I'd no longer be able to pursue my love of food. For the first couple months of my diagnosis I only ate egg whites, turkey sandwiches, chicken sausage and vegetables. My taste buds craved pasta, pizza, burgers and the creative but I was scared to death of what that would do to my blood sugars. I fought with my favorite chowhound as she would scarf down a cheeseburger in front of me. I yelled at my parents when they would ask me if a stuffed chicken breast was ok for dinner when I visited them on the weekend. At the time I felt like one of my greatest joys in life was taken away from me. I feared a life where the tastiest thing I could eat was a freaking Clif Bar.
Then as I started to train for triathlons I noticed that insulin was more effective on my body. I remember that first bike ride after my diagnosis, it was a 30 mile ride up to Nyack, and the reward was a muffin; my blood sugar held steady and I was happy as could be. The following week I did a bike ride that was a bit longer and took a huge chance - gnocchi for dinner; by God I bolused too much for it!!! I thought how could this be, I just had a carb heavy pasta drenched in gorgonzola sauce yet my blood sugar is going low?!? Over the next couple months I would try pizza, burgers, hallal food, greek food, all the things I used to love and discovered I could still eat them. What I came to realize was as long as I ate healthy "most of the time," and mixed in hard core exercise on the days I was going to chow down I could reward myself with delicious food. I can't have nachos for lunch and creme brule at dinner anymore but I can have nachos after an hour long swim and creme brule later that week after a 2 hour bike ride. Type 1 has forced me to balance my diet, and exercise more to enjoy those things I love.
I reflect on this as I anxiously await season 4 of Top Chef. Perhaps no other show caters to my love of adventurous food quite as much as Top Chef does. Harold the season 1 winner is the owner/ chef of Perilla - after a couple hard weeks of working out I had duck meatballs, edename falafel, broccoli rabe, hanger steak, potatoes, 2 glasses of pinot noir and the most delicious doughnuts (my first as a diabetic or first in nearly a year) I've ever had. Yes with that meal, extra exercise and sacrificing to eat healthy most of the time, a knife, a fork a bottle and a cork is still how I spell New York.