Senioritis Stories, Vol. 9: I'm In Love, With Pho

Written by Maddie De Pree, Columnist

My gluten allergy is, candidly, my least favorite thing about myself. Can you imagine a less-sexy phrase than “I am gluten intolerant”? (No. You can’t.)

This allergy is a fairly new discovery of mine. After living in denial about some of my, ahem, symptoms—I’ll spare you the details—I decided to try cutting out gluten this past fall. To my combination delight and chagrin, I noticed instant improvements. Bread isn’t lethal for me—I won’t die if I eat it—but I will pay for it dearly for at least 24 hours, so I’ve reluctantly been learning to avoid it.

The saddest part of this new dietary restriction has been the search for good gluten-free substitutes. I’m an avid pasta-eater-or I was until I came to terms with my allergy, which has revealed that gluten-free food is usually, well, tragically inferior to its gluten-rich counterparts. Because of this, I’ve been forgoing most of my favorite meals. There is simply no way that gluten-free mac and cheese will taste as good as the real deal. It just isn’t possible. By the time spring semester rolled around, I had more or less accepted the fact that I was to be without decent comfort food. As Kurt Vonnegut says, so it goes.

Enter my love affair with Greenville’s surprisingly decent pho scene, an obsession that I’ve been feeding (no pun intended) for the past month. For those who don’t know, pho is a Vietnamese soup that consists of broth, rice noodles, herbs, and meat. It also happens to be gluten-free. I’ve tried four different pho spots so far, but my current favorite is Mekong—not just for its food, but because of its cozy atmosphere, low prices, and out-of-the-way location. That a dish this delicious doesn’t destroy my gastrointestinal tract is nothing short of miraculous. Indeed, it has become my principal comfort meal as I stress about my upcoming graduation and pending departure from Furman. Sinking into the sensory bliss of rice noodle and warm, spiced broth has been a complete cure-all for any ailment, mental or physical.

So, take a cue from me—treat yourself to some pho when you next get a chance. You might need it more than you think.

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