Hot Sicilian Causes Gallbladder Attack

Stacey Gustafson, writerMy love for a hot Sicilian started off innocently enough.  But one thing led to another and a one-night stand became the beginning of a passionate affair.  What started as sweet desire ended in extraordinary pain.  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how this happened to a happily married stay-at-home mom.

Pursuing my dream of becoming a newspaper columnist, I sought an opportunity to see my name in print and signed up to be a cookbook critic.   Pizza cookbooks drew me into their pages, tantalizing me with cheesy delights.

Slinging pizza dough high in the air, Chef Emeril Lagasse had nothing over me.  Homemade spicy marinara sauces simmered on the stovetop, crushed red pepper flakes and garlic kicked the heat up a notch.  Whisking flour and pounding dough, my fists were as red and chapped as a deep-sea fisherman.

Hot Jamaican jerk chicken pizza and zesty Italian sausage screamed, “Eat me!”  Chipotle chicken with smoked jalapenos was a Tex-Mex delight.  I became an expert grilling chilies over an open flame until the skin was black and blistered.  Each pizza was spicier than the gossip surrounding the Kardashian’s.

   My family delighted in the welcoming aromas emanating from the kitchen each night, tantalizing their nostrils and making the eyes water.

“What’s for dinner?” asked the kids.

“Pizza again!”

“All right.”

Overnight, salads became a distant memory.  Scrumptious hot fare delighted my family and they demanded pizza thicker than a James Michener novel.

After two weeks of cheesy meals, I toppled over in pain, clutching my stomach.  Falling into the nearest reclining chair, I begged for relief.  Something was wrong, burning pain, spasms, cramps, and bloated stomach.

For years, I watched my weight and the kids made fun of my fondness for salad.  Zesty food, not for me.  How could I have anticipated that writing a cooking column would be hazardous to my health?  The doctor asked, “Ever have your cholesterol tested?  Eat spicy food?  Cheese?”  My initial response was adamant “no”. 

Then I confessed my obsession to the doctor regarding the highly seasoned.  Eating pizza triggered a gallbladder attack.  He told me I won’t survive the next cookbook unless I cut out the double cheese and fiery meat.  And fast.

Not only that, he recommended I lay off alcohol, tomatoes, onions, fattening food, soda, red meat, dairy products, eggs, chocolate and all things spicy.  Even mints were on the list.  A morning cup of Joe was scratched as well.  But, on the plus side, artichokes, ginger root, coconuts, avocados, grapes, lemons, prunes, figs, currants, and low fat cottage cheese were highly recommended.

I may starve!

Following the doctor’s advice, my break-up with the bold and spicy needed to be as swift as an Olympiad running for the finish line.  Despite my family’s new cravings, we needed to move onto a spice-free diet or mama would collapse.

I had to choose recipes on the bland side.   Lunching at home alone, I picked my way through a mixed green salad with a thin slice of tomato topped with French dressing.  Dumping the partly eaten meal into the trashcan, I spied a greasy box from Pizza Hut.
“What’s this?” I mumbled under my breath.

My daughter must have snuck food into the house.  After I had hooked them on yummy pizza then denied them what they craved, it was best to look the other way.

Let them eat cheese and spare me the guillotine!

About staceygustafson


  1. Left me with a deep “tums required” craving for my favorite food as well.
    Why does heartburn have to be included??
    REAL Question is . . .
    When do you start reviewing chocolaty dessert stuff?

  2. Hi Stephanie — I read your headline and then saw the icon of the cookbook and had to stop in. Before becoming a columnist, I was a kitchen manager for CPK in Atlanta before transferring back to my home state of Oregon to open a CPK in Portland. That was 15 years ago and it has since closed, but I STILL miss the ginger-black bean pasta and Tandoori chicken pizza! Oh, and the five-cheese and tomato basil 🙂 I make the BBQ chicken salad at home just about every week during the summer — My wife and I never get tired of it! Never lose your passion for great pizza! Or pasta, or salad, or dessert or …

  3. P.S. I’m a dork STACEY! That’s what I get for multi-tasking my Rolodex and typing. My apologies!

  4. You always make us laugh! We love the articles. Keep them coming!!

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