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A few days ago a friend of mine recounted an amusing little story about how he almost ruined a perfectly good grilled cheddar and pepperoni sandwich.  The power had gone out and he had to scramble to get his indoor grill to finish it, lest it get soggy.

All I’ve been able to think about since then is eating a damn grilled cheese and pepperoni sandwich.  Choosing to eat a grilled cheese sandwich, with or without pepperoni, is not an easy decision for me.  I’m lactose intolerant. 

A lot of people (like Chris Rock and my mother) think lactose intolerance is an imaginary disease.  If you’re one of those people, let me ask you something.  Do you think I don’t want to eat ice cream like a normal person?  Do you think it’s easy being married to an Italian and not being able to have cheese?  Ever?  Do you think I enjoy having baristas look at me like I’m crazy when I order my coffee with soy milk?  Or worse, black? 

Nevertheless, I couldn’t stop thinking about the sandwich.  This morning I was getting desperate.  I confided in one of my staffers.

“I’m thinking about getting a grilled cheese and pepperoni sandwich,” I said.

“You can’t!” said J.P.  “Think of the rest of us.  We have to be here with you all day!”

He was right of course, but at lunchtime I sent off an e-mail to my friend.  I told him I was going to kill him for putting the idea in my head.  Then I put on my coat, made myself as small as possible and tried to tiptoe out to the deli.

“Don’t do it Wanda,” J.P. said.  All I could do was put my head down and slink out the door.

At the deli, they tried to talk me out of it.

“I’d like a grilled cheese and pepperoni sandwich, please,” I said.

“You want Rice eh Roni?” asked the guy behind the counter.

“Pepperoni,” I said.

He turned to ask Raul if that’s what I really wanted.

“You want baloney?”  said Raul.

“No Raul, I want grilled cheese and pepperoni.”

Raul looked concerned.

“This is gonna be a little eh-spicy, no?”

“I don’t care about that.  Just give it to me.”

After a little more discussion about bread (I chose white, no use pushing my luck) I got my sandwich and ran back to the office.

“Hold my calls!  Don’t disturb me for at least ten minutes!” I said over my shoulder.  I clutched the sandwich and went to hole myself up in my office.

“Don’t do it Wanda,” said J.P.

“Do you have any messages for your next of kin?” asked A.P.

“Yes,” I said.  “Tell them it was the best sandwich I ever ate and I regret nothing.”

I could barely keep my hands from shaking while I unwrapped it.  Would it be everything that I thought it was?

Actually, no.  It wasn’t quite how I imagined it.  I don’t really know what I was expecting.  Grill marks, I suppose.


I ate it anyway.  It was greasy.  It was fairly oozing with cheese.  I wolfed down the first half in about two seconds.  I hesitated after that, but decided that I might as well go all the way.  If I was going to be violently ill I might as well go all the way.  In for a penny, in for a pound!

At around 2 p.m. I started to feel sick.  At around 3 I was praying the drunks’ prayer (GodifyouletmeliveI’llneverdothisagainIswear….).  I sat doubled over on the Brooklyn-bound F train and kept telling myself that it would have been OK if I had only had it with tomato.  The next time I’d have tomato.

I had to pick up Dante at school.  He took one look at me and knew something wasn’t right.

“What’s wrong, mom?” he asked.

“I did something really stuipd,” I said.  “I ate a grilled cheese and pepperoni sandwich.  You know why that was stupid, right?”

“Yes,” he said, and proceeded to play his Nintendo DS and munch on mini Chips Ahoy.

“You want the last cookie?” he asked.

“No.  I guess I shouldn’t have eaten that sandwich,” I said.

“Yeah.  You should have had McDonalds.”

When we got home the first thing he did was tell Mr. Rizzuto why I wouldn’t be eating dinner tonight.

“Narc,” I said

I regret nothing.



  1. Oh Heck!! Now I want a grilled cheese and grilled cheese and pepperoni. I’m not lactose intolerant, thank goodness, but the heartburn is going to be awful. 😦

  2. I’m not sure why that turned out the way it did.

    • the little fluffy cat
    • Posted January 11, 2008 at 11:19 pm
    • Permalink
    • Reply

    Girl, you have got to get you some Lactaid. I eat any dairy I want, any time I want, and man, I don’t even want to tell you how lactose intolerant I am.

  3. I have never had a grilled cheese and pepperoni sandwich. I see a trip to the grocery store in my husband’s near future.

  4. I was going to ask about the same thing that the Little Fluffy Cat mentioned. Doesn’t it work?

    I have issues with hot pepper (namely, I like it a lot, and it gives me worse than heartburn), so I can relate to the dramatic tension in your story. I would have to tell Raul to mind his own business too.

  5. Wanda, Wanda, wicked Wanda. You are weak. No you’re not. You are brave and strong to risk such discomfort for the fleeting pleasure of a grilled cheddar and pepperoni sandwich.

    Let’s do lunch.

  6. I don’t know Quill, you might make me eat baked ziti or something.

    Sissy and Aniko, Lactaid DOES NOT work for me. I don’t think it really works for anyone, it’s just the power of suggestion. It’s all in your head.

  7. I was truly on the edge of my seat waiting to see if you would or wouldn’t.

    I have that problem with ice cream but I’ll indulge anyway.

    • the little fluffy cat
    • Posted January 12, 2008 at 11:17 am
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    • Reply

    HUH, how much you take? I take the BIG ones, sometimes a handful, and I tell you, if that’s not what’s doing it, I have had the biggest healing in the history of ever. My head is strong, but it’s not that strong.

    The little regular ones, those are the ones that don’t work.

    Quill, I’ll eat lunch with you…

  8. That things sounds really salty.

  9. Ha@ the google ad on the right. “Healthy Choice Sammich”…

    • the little fluffy cat
    • Posted January 12, 2008 at 2:38 pm
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    • Reply

    Pretty sure they don’t have cheese and pepperoni, Anners! lolol…

  10. On the other hand, maybe they do…stranger things, you know? Maybe tofu cheese and chicken pepperoni…

  11. Yuck!

    BTW Sissy, your linkage is working. Yay!

  12. Usually, cooking cheese breaks down the offending enzymes and the lactose intolerant reaction isn’t so severe. So, I’d put the blame on that pepperoni.

    Here’s a test: chop up some pepperoni slices and fry them slightly in a cast iron skillet — swish them around so all the grease coats the pan. Stir up a couple of eggs (whisk them, as a real cook might suggest) and pour them into the pan with the pepperoni and scramble it all up as it cooks. Mangia.

    If you get ill, it was the pepperoni, not the cheese. That means you can try a “plain” grilled cheese as soon as you’ve forgotten how it all went with the sandwich from this episode.

    Because we all know temptation will return. Cheese is worth suffering for.

  13. I don’t know how to tell you this Shado, so I’ll just come right out and say it.

    I don’t like eggs.

  14. Wanda, from the fact that Lactaid doesn’t work (it has the enzyme needed to break down lactose) and the fact that even cheese and small amounts of milk trigger a reaction, I’m wondering if what you have is an allergy to milk proteins, not lactose intolerance. Of course, you should try the larger dose Fluffy Cat is talking about before giving up.

  15. So, no eggs. Gotcha. I still think the greasiness of the pepperoni would be the worst part of that sandwich. What if you tried frying up the pepperoni with some potatoes?

  16. I’m glad you lived to tell the tale. A milk allergy would be too sad. A friend of mine says she feels great after giving up dairy. She suggested I try it. I can’t imagine life without cheese.

  17. Now I just want grilled cheese. Pepperoni is ick.

    I think I’ve become mildly lactose intolerant with age. I notice now that a huge glass of milk bloats me up like a dead whale.

  18. That’s attractive. 😉

  19. Thin Lizzy was one of my favorites in the 70s. I have “Dear Lord” and “Downtown Sundown” on my MP3 player. Some great music that was much more than the radio hits.

  20. Methinks Goodfoot has pepperoni in his CD player.

  21. I hope Mr. Rizzuto does say “Cheese” when he takes photos.

    It’s Orlando’s B-Day, no post full of erotic wishes? I’m disappointed.

  22. Stevo, it’s only 10 a.m. where I am! Seriously, did you think I’d let this occasion pass without a few ass shots? Perish the thought, and stay tuned.

  23. You’re kidding, right? It wasn’t worth it?

    I also am lactose intolerant, but eating ice cream doesn’t make me sick. It give me serious gaseous problems, which take a couple of days to get over. I will eat ice cream only to get back at my husband. I love to hear him complain about my farts, when he knows how to fart the ABCs.

  24. In Aussieland we have cheese on toast or toasted sandwiches rather than grilled cheeses (same thing). U can make them with the sandwich press/toaster thing or u can get 2 slices of bread, put them under the grill untill they go brown on the topside, turn them over and put ham and/or tomato or pineapple on the soft side and then put a slice of cheese over the top of each piece of bread and put back under the grill untill the cheese melts.

    The sandwiches are easier but cheese on toast has a better cheese/bread ratio.

  25. Yikes! If I was lactose intolerant, I’d starve to death.
    Then again, I suppose that means if I was lactose intolerant, I’d be thirty or forty pounds lighter.

  26. I hate eggs too Wanda, haven’t eaten one since I was 8. I love cheese, so I feel bad that you can’t have it. I think Pizza is one of the best food creations ever! Have you tried different types of cheese? Dont some have less milk content than others?

    and it could have been the grease that made you sick, the pepperoni plus the cheese plus they probably buttered the bread or at least the grill

  27. I too could relate to the dramatic tension in this tale, though my trigger isn’t dairy; it’s the magic combination of red wine and coffee. Worse yet, I drink so infrequently that I always, always forget that I can’t have coffee after a nice dinner that involved wine (and who doesn’t want coffee after that kind of dinner?). I tend to remember right after I finish the second cup of coffee. And then I wait, in trembling horror, knowing that in an hour I’ll be sweat-soaked and moaning in agony, but not knowing how long it will last. *sigh*

  28. Hello. I am just starting to realized that I am at least partially lactose intolerant. My symptoms were slight upset stomach, mild heartburn and horrible breath. I have been testing lost of foods to see track down which things are bother me and Milk, lunch meat and sausage seem to trouble me the worst. I couldn’t find pepperoni on any lists but I found Wanda’s story. I tried some pepperoni pizza and it did seem to bother me slightly. For some reason cheese, sour cream..etc doesn’t bother me. I plan to eat a cheese pizza soon and nothing else for several hours and see what happens to be sure.

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