What is this?

Pasta Perfection

Day 18

Comments

New waiter today. Fortunately, I have the speech I give to the new ones pretty much down pat, now. I'm ready to go with it by the time he walks up to me and tells me his name.

"Hey, I'm Vino, and I'm doing a -"
"Yeah, I know."

Apparently, news travels fast in the tightly-knit community of Olive Garden employees. My waiter regards me with a friendly, yet hard, stare. It's as if he's daring me to order my first pasta. His hand rests with a practiced ease on his notepad, like a sheriff ready to draw his gun. I begin to sweat.

"I'll have, the, um...spaghetti with roasted mushroom sauce and --"
"Chicken fritta?"

I scramble to check my notes. How could he have known that I hadn't tried that one yet? I try to regain my composure, but my nerves are shot.

"Y...yeah. Chicken fritta."
"I'll be back with that, and your Coke Zero."
"That...that sounds good. Thanks."

But he's already gone. I'm up against a professional, and it looks like I've already lost round one.

NOTE: A lot of people have asked me about the "arbitrarity" of my 5-star scale. I hope these pastas will help decode how I look at a dish and where the rating comes from. There are four main elements, so today I've picked four dishes that exemplify one of each.

Lunch was Presentation.

Dinner was composed of three plates of pasta:

Synergy
Juxtaposition
Quality

I'm sure I'll see that waiter again. Hopefully I'll be ready next time.

A special thanks to my dining companion, this person who wants everyone to be aware of the existence of breast cancer!

Day 17

Comments

As any of the waitresses unfortunate enough to be stuck with me can attest, I drink a lot of Coke Zero. It's my favorite beverage, and pretty much the only thing I drink, besides water. Those of you wondering if I ever get bored of it would do well to remember my diet as of the past two weeks.

The "Share A Coke" promotion seems to have gotten a lot of traction, and kudos to Coca-Cola for coming up with something so simple yet compelling for the consumer. What I've found particularly amusing, though, is the discrepancy between Coke Zero's names and Diet Coke's.

It's no secret that Zero is marketed more towards my demographic - young men who typically don't drink "diet" soda. Diet Coke invites you to share it with your "Mom", a "Go-Getter", or, my personal favorite, your "BFF". Coke Zero ain't got time for that sissy garbage, and it knows you don't either. You gotta share it with your "Bros", a "Legend", or a "Gamer". Aw yeah. Just lemme pop this Zero quick, bro, then we can get back to some truly legendary gaming.

Lunch was Sunrise on the Savannah.

Dinner was composed of three plates of pasta:

The Lonely Inuit
Vesuvius
Weekend Warriors

I know today's update is only tangentially related to the Olive Garden or the pastas thereof, but I'm using this site as a platform to discuss all the hard-hitting issues.

A special thanks to my dining companions, my Legendary Gamer Bros!

day 16

Comments

(i do not know when it is that the olive garden closes
and opens;only something in me understands
that if i show up too early they serve smaller portions)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small bowls

            lunch was fourpaws

dinner was
                         composed of
three

plates

          of pasta

love
rain
death

with apologies to mr cummings

a special thanks to
          my dining companion
" "

Day 15

Comments

I've been getting a lot of questions asked via inquiring fans - some of these questions have been asked with some frequency. Thus, the following:

**Frequently Asked Questions:**

Q: How did you get pasta pass? How do I get pasta pass?

A: The pasta pass was given out as a promotional item to the first 1,000 people to find the buried treasure (a single golden olive) of Horace Garden, founder of the Olive Garden empire. Since there was only one treasure, it was very easy to find after the first guy just left it sitting at the Home Depot.

Q: Why is every Pasta Pass holder a white guy in his mid thirties with a half-built shed in his back yard?

A: See above.

Q: On a scale of none to all, how much of the pasta?

A: [not dignified with response]

Q: Fat????

A: Maybe!!!

Q: Are you actually depressed, or is that just the pasta talking?

A: Can't it be both? But seriously, this is a known effect of long-term exposure to high levels of pasta. It is commonly referred to by any number of clever monikers; see today's pasta names for a partial list.

Lunch was Sadghetti.

Dinner was composed of three plates of pasta:

Mario's Malaise
Curse of Carbs
Linguennui

Keep those comments, tweets, and emails coming, people! I don't have time to respond to them all, but I read every single one~

A special thanks to my dining companion, Nick, who has been the shining beacon of every new week for three weeks running!

Day 14

Comments

The journey of a thousand noodles begins with a single bowl, and I've now eaten roughly 286 of those noodles. Some observations from the past week:

-Still no appreciable change in weight, energy levels, or any other vague metric of 'health'
-Still cannot resist a breadstick placed within snatching distance
-Still cries at a good film
-Have had dreams in which I accidentally ate food from somewhere other than the Olive Garden and I had to induce vomiting to maintain the integrity of the challenge
-As of today, all 36 pasta+sauce combination has been tried. They were all delicious! You should try some. Why not go to the Olive Garden tomorrow? You could even go with me! I mean, if you don't have anything else going on, I'm just sayin', I'll be at Olive Garden. You don't, like, have to come or anything.

Please come. I'm so alone.

Lunch was Cannonball.

Dinner was composed of three plates of pasta:

Pier on an Orange Lake
"Healthy" Choice
Rime of the Ancient Marinara

Thus ends week two of seven. I've got a long way to go.

A special thanks to my dining companion, the blank stare of my own twisted reflection in a pool of five cheese marinara!

Day 13

Comments

Between the blog, my job, and the actual consuming of pasta, I have very little leisure time. But weekends throw a wrench into this, and the amount of time I suddenly find myself with paralyzes me with anxiety, not freedom. I don't think "what can I do with my time", I think, "what should I do with my time"?

Sometime in college I developed a sense of guilt about doing anything 'pointless', like playing video games, reading fictional novels, browsing the internet, or so on. Note that I didn't stop doing these things; I just felt bad the whole time I did them, and awful when I saw it was time for bed. Had an entire day just slipped by, with nothing accomplished but a higher number above my gnome warlock's head?

Lunch was Noah

Dinner was compose of three plates of pasta:

Atrahasis
Gilgamesh
Nûḥ

Clearly, my guilt is even more useless than my hobbies, but I've yet to find a way to escape it.

A special thanks to my dining companion, Danny!

Day 12

Comments

Today I was famous.

I liked doing this, but the end product was heavily edited. This is just a partial list of things cut from the interview:

-A scene in which I look at the menu and say "I think I'll have...EVERYTHING!", then the camera zooms in on the waiter's shocked face [sound effect: slide whistle]
-The boom mic operator distracting the manager while the cameraman fills his gear bag with breadsticks
-Palpable sexual tension between me and the reporter
-My reading aloud of the entirety of the ending speech from Atlas Shrugged, in which I replace all personal pronouns with pasta equivalents
-The ending montage of me eating pounds upon pounds of spaghetti, interspersed with shots of starving 3rd-world children

Lunch was Exposition.

Dinner was composed of three plates of pasta:

Recapitulation
Scherzo
Cadenza

Big thanks to the cameraman who asked the most insightful question I've yet to hear in an interview - "what does Hospitaliano mean to *you*"? I'm still thinking this one over!

A special thanks to my dining companion, Kay!

Day 11

Comments

Dining with children puts me in an awkward position. I understand that parenting is a difficult job - fortunately, thanks to my face being plastered all over the news as "the guy who's going to die in a diabetic coma in three weeks", nobody will risk procreating with me - and I am not the type of person who is irritated by children at a restaurant. I understand that kids will be kids, and will typically be unruly, loud, or otherwise unpleasant. It genuinely does not bother me.

But I can tell it bothers other people, and I'm nothing if not sensitive to the feelings of others, bordering on obsequious-ness. So what am I, as a non-parent, to do when my dining companions' children, adorable though they are, drag down the evening for everyone within screeching range?

Obviously, direct interaction with the parents or the children is impossible. One does not tell parents how to parent, for any number of reasons. All I could manage was a tired "sorry" smile to the diners near us and a large tip for our server. I honestly don't know what the etiquette is in this situation. Can anything be done at all?!

Lunch was The Classic.

Dinner was composed of three plates of pasta:

Orange Tide
School Lunch
Eighteen Dollar Entree

The above blog entry is entirely fictitious and is a theoretical essay only. On an unrelated note...

A special thanks to my dining companions, The Doll Family!

Day 10

Comments

(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]

Comments

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

Comments

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

Comments

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! :)

Pasta Combination Selector