Pasta Perfection

Day 10

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(Part One)

What is art? Free expression of thought, of emotion, of passion? Or the product of a skilled and dedicated hand, a talent worked to a razor's edge through years of careful study and practice? Both? Can anything be art? Can nothing be art?

Today on All of Garden, we're going to look at these broad questions through the lens of pasta. Please get out your notepads and napkins.

Lunch was Art Nouveau.

Dinner was composed of three plates of pasta:

Art Informel
Art Deco
Art Brut

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you found today an enlightening change of pace.

A special thanks to my dining companion, Michael!

Day [9]

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Lunch was Splash Damage.

Dinner was composed of three plates of pasta:

Noscope
Rocket Jump
Bunny Hop

A special thanks to my dining companion, who was noted to be affecting a limp, perhaps to escape suspicion of the hardboiled detective hired by the manager to discover who had stolen the Olive Garden's famed jewels!

Day 8

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The sun rose, as it is wont to do, on another perfect week for pasta. I breathed in deeply, and took in the fresh air of my studio apartment. The smell of curry from my indeterminately ethnic neighbors was strong, as it always is, and whetted the blade of my appetite. Soon, I would feast...but first must come work.

I endure my day job with a sense of grim determination. It's just something to fill time between visits to the Olive Garden. But sometimes I wonder how the employees of the Olive Garden feel about their jobs. It seems unlikely that every morning trip there is as euphoric and magical an experience as my twice-daily treks are. But how can one drive to the Olive Garden without a feeling of giddy anticipation welling up within them? Maybe I'll find out as the challenge draws onward, but, for now, every morning is a new day for gorging.

Lunch was Penne Arcade.

Dinner was comprised of three plates of pasta:

Fed-uccine
Cava-Topping
Penne Loafer

Hey, man. Some days you just want to talk about pasta without a bunch of metaphors or whatever.

A special thanks to my dining companions, the Garcia family!

Day 7

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Today's dinner marked the end of my first of seven weeks of eating nothing but Olive Garden's food, and I couldn't be happier with my life as it stands in this very moment. Life seems full of color, the future seems full of possibility, and I seem full of pasta. I admit that when I started the journey, I had my misgivings. To paraphrase the Bible: man shall not live by breadsticks alone. Yet here I stand, a testament to the raw power and conviction of a man with a dream.

Lunch was "Hall & Oates".

Dinner was comprised of three plates of pasta:

"Simon & Garfunkel"
"David & Goliath"
"Spaghetti & An Entire Sausage"

In conclusion, I'm still hungry. Bring on Week Two.

A special thanks to my dining companion, Nick!

PS: Today I received an email from one Michael T, a bartender at an Olive Garden somewhere in America. He informed me that I technically am not limited to merely 180 permutations of pasta, sauce, and toppings, but can double up, substitute, mix and match, and otherwise make the servers' lives even more hellish with monstrosities such as "Spicy 3 Meat+5 Cheese Marinara with Sauasage and Meatball over Penne".

I'm not going to be doing this for several reasons, but it was very interesting to hear! Thanks for your feedback, Michael, and thanks to everyone else who has written in to, or about, the blog! :)

Day 6

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Had a slight misunderstanding with a new manager today over the legality of using my Pasta Pass in a to-go order. "You can't order an unlimited amount of food to go," he said, as if talking to some idiot who didn't understand the basic premise of the Pass.

"It says right here on your site that I can use the Pass on To Go purchases. I've done it every day for almost a week now."

"You can't do that. I mean, if we let you just...take as much as you want, you could eat until you died."

I thought of the 1700mg of sodium in just my lunch and smiled humorlessly. "Yeah, I suppose I could."

Lunch was Night On The Town.

Dinner was comprised of three plates of pasta:

Gas Station Special
Tasticles
Asian Buffet

We eventually did get things sorted out, and thankfully my quest continues unabated.

A special thanks to my dining companion, this mysterious man who would only answer to "'Jungle' Jim"!

Day 5

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"So you come here a lot?" asks 'Jessica', a hint of skepticism in her voice.

"You could say that," I reply disinterestedly, focusing my camera on a particularly crunchy-looking fritta.

"I mean, I don't hate Olive Garden or anything, but I don't see why you were so insistent about it. There's a really cool new taphouse downtown." As she's talking, I nod at Sharon, the hostess, who waves back happily.

'Jessica' doesn't really get it, I can already tell, and this dinner would be a complete waste if it weren't for the real beauty in front of me - "Ophelia". Still, I want to make her understand, if only to avoid sitting in complete silence.

I want to tell her that Olive Garden is the perfect restaurant. That it blends together the Platonic ideals of Italian culture: family, hospitality, and breadsticks - with those of American culture: consumption, self-determination, and thrift. That it perfectly balances its menu so that people of all walks of life can spend as much or as little as they want to eat more food than can possibly be healthy. Most of all, that while love can bloom anywhere, it flourishes most easily where people share food together.

I want to tell her these things, but Bridget, ever the perfect waitress, has just arrived with another basket of breadsticks, and the moment is gone. I sigh.

"I guess I just really like pasta."

Lunch was "Juliet".

Dinner was comprised of three plates of pasta:

"Ophelia"
"Imogen"
"Katherina"

As Bridget boxes up our leftovers, I avoid eye contact with 'Jessica' so that it's easier for her to lie to me about how she has to help her friend with something, and that she's very sorry that she doesn't have time for the movie we planned.

A special thanks to my dining companion, 'Jessica', who declined to have her name or photo appear on the blog.

Day 4

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None of my friends were able to dine with me tonight, so I ventured into the Olive Garden solo for the first time. It's not that I don't have many friends - I actually have quite a lot. Like, I originally figured I'd go with a new friend to the Olive Garden pretty much every night, and I'd even have friends left over after that. But I guess tonight most people were busy. It's not a big deal. Like I said, I've got a ton of friends, so it wasn't even sad or anything. Sometimes I even prefer to eat alone.

Lunch was "Despair".

Dinner was comprised of three plates of pasta:

"Solitaire"
"Regret"
"Mortality"

Looking forward to tomorrow.

A special thanks to my dining companion, myself! I couldn't find anyone to take my picture but you can just imagine me in the corner there where my friends normally are.

Day 3

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There are certain things man was not meant to eat. Today, my body made it quite clear to me that "Nothing but pasta, forever," is near the top of that list. I will spare you the details, but suffice to say it will take some time for equillibrium to be re-established and for me to restore order among the bacterial fauna of my gut.

Lunch was "Man Vs. Pasta".

Dinner was comprised of four plates of pasta:

"Cheezilla"
"End Of The Week"
"A Day At The Fair"
"Red Sky At Night"

I remain confident that this was a minor setback, and thanks to my companion, I got to try a bonus dish without dedicating an entire platter to it!

A special thanks to my dining companion, Vinegar!

Day 2

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"Ah, you have the Pasta Pass. It is a very good deal," the manager informs me. "You are very lucky." He is not smiling.

I return his blank expression with a nod and a beatific grin as I lick clean my third bowl of pasta.

Lunch was "My First Dinner For Two".

Dinner was comprised of three plates of pasta:
"Pizza Hut Special"
"Long John Silver"
"Stouffer's"

Only two days of the Never Ending Pasta Bowl have elapsed, and it seems that I've already made a name for myself. I expect to see much more of the manager - lord knows he'll see more of me.

A special thanks to my dining companion, Alycia!

Day 1

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The day - a beautifully clear and crisp autumn, the kind which exists in North Dakota only for a few fragile, perfect weeks - was ideal for the start of a journey. A journey that would take me from the lowest caste of mortal to the highest echelons of noodles, sauce, and toppings (starting at $2.99). A journey of pasta.

Lunch was "The Classic+".

Dinner was comprised of three plates of pasta:
"Cock of the Walk"
"Cheesetube Extreme"
"Catch of the Baltic"

Today, I took my first step on that journey. It was not easy - even now, my stomach aches with the effort of digesting a bolus of pure carbs - but nothing worth doing ever is. And I say without irony that this journey is the most worthwhile thing I've ever done.

A special thanks to my dining companion, Nick!

Day -1

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PASTA PASS UNBOXING!

Note: if I appear to be annoyed in this video, it is because I am FRUSTRATED at the postal service in my town, NOT with Olive Garden corporate. Shannon at their Customer Service Department was very helpful and patient.

Day -2

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Today I did some research for the blog. I am very excited to eat pasta.

TRANSCRIPT (NAMES CHANGED TO PROTECT THE INNOCENT):
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Jennifer -       Hello, and thank you for calling Olive Garden. My name is Jennifer, how may I help you?

Vino -             Hello, Jennifer. I have some questions about your Never Ending Pasta Bowl promotion.

Jennifer -       Certainly.

Vino -             Does this Olive Garden location serve all six pastas advertised on your site?

Jennifer -       Um...yes?

Vino -             Excellent. And what of your sauces? Will all six be available to me?

Jennifer -       *a note of hesitation creeps into her voice* Y...yes. Who is this?

Vino -             What about the toppings, Jennifer? All four toppings, including the NEW Shrimp Fritta?

Jennifer -       *voice cracks slightly* Yes. Sir...how much of the pasta are you planning to eat?

Vino -             ...see you soon, Jennifer. *click*

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END TRANSCRIPT

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