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Thursday, May 24, 2007

AN OPEN LETTER TO DAVID LEBOVITZ, part two

(continued from the previous post)

From my hospital bed I can see the sunshine is warming the air and fighting off the heavy gloom that hangs over southern California this time of year. How I long for rays of light to burn away the dread and lingering sense of malaise that is draped over my head. A return to lucidity and acumen would be welcomed here.

I have, however, made measurable progress. The source of my delirium, "The Perfect Scoop," now rests on my bedside table. My fingers relaxed their vice clamp from your book and the only remaining evidence of my attachment is visible through the permanent stains and wrinkles on the cover and binding from my sweaty hands. The doctors who monitor my progress tell me that the volume finally slipped from my fingers during my last electroshock therapy session.

On a side note, do you happen to know of any good remedies for uncontrollable fly-away hair???

The memories of the previous days have returned to me slowly. I recall purchasing my copy at Williams Sonoma, grabbing an orange passion ice tea from Starbucks and sitting at a table outside Pavilions while leafing through the pages. Ed was at home preparing a lovely birthday barbecue for me and I welcomed the relaxed opportunity to thumb through this elusive, highly sought-after book and choose an inaugural recipe. Matt was way ahead of me, as were countless other people, and I was excited to finally be joining the club.

Which recipe should I make?

Where to start?

Ice cream? Sorbet? Granita?

Oh dear, this wasn't as easy as I thought.

My experience with most cookbooks is that one initial recipe jumps off the printed page and begs to be tried. I usually set my bookmark in place and close the book with a completed grocery list of needed ingredients. After I've completed the first recipe, I take my time and explore other areas of the book that grab my attention.

Not so with this bewitched book! There were numerous recipes promising frozen desserts worthy of those eyes-rolling-back-into-the-head moments.

"Ah hah!" I screamed as my eyes locked on a recipe for Malted Milk Ice Cream. I love the taste of malted milk balls as they remind me of happy childhood Easter Sundays when I would awake to find a whimsical basket filled with these treats. "That's the one!"

Oh, hang on. What's this?

I glimpsed "Roasted Banana Ice Cream" fly past as the pages of the book snapped shut. I dove back in, thumbing through to find the lost page. Instead, I tripped over Lavender-Honey Ice Cream, Coffee Frozen Yogurt, Pear-Caramel Ice Cream and Toasted Coconut Ice Cream. I shook off the distractions and turned to the back index to find my lost recipe for Roasted Banana. Scanning the index, Plum-Raspberry Swirl and Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwich Cookies burned into my retinas.

I saw numerous colorful photos promoting intensely flavored ice creams, often with a single, seductive drip of melting cream that made me want to lick the page. Endearing stories and suggestions like serving the Mojito Granita with a fresh drizzle of rum sucked me deeper and deeper into the book. Each recipe I read sounded even more promising than the rest. Wait a minute? What was the original recipe I was going to make?

I now had six "must make" titles.

I again drew solid black lines through the previous items on my now tattered grocery list and carefully wrote new ones down in the margins. I couldn't bring myself to cross out the malted milk powder and candy. However, the market was bursting with juicy mangos and perhaps I should really take advantage of them. I quickly scribbled through the previously scribbled areas on my list and added mangos. I glanced at my watch and realized that I had spent too much time deciding on what to try first.

I stood up, tossed my ice tea into the trashcan and gathered my things. I began to wonder if the Mango Sorbet was what I was craving when nothing really said "happy birthday to me" quite like Malted Milk Ice Cream. I looked down at my ink-heavy list and determined that I could still read the list of ingredients I would need for the malted milk.

No, David, I do not suffer from terminal indecisiveness, as you must be thinking. It is precisely the fact that I do not suffer from such wishy-washiness that caused me such upset outside my local Pavilions. The text of your book invaded my mind that day and like a virus, re-wired my well-anchored abilities into something less precise.

I grabbed a grocery cart and entered the store. The cart I chose was well weathered and the front wheels favored the right side as I pushed. Occasionally one wheel would freeze up totally causing the cart to spin in circles like a Labrador chained to a tree. Normally I would return such a cart and take another more sure-footed cart. At this point I was cloaked in confusion and pushed on hurriedly with the intention of gathering the ingredients for at least one recipe.

Roasted banana.
Malted Milk. MOJITO
Pearl-Caramel.

These images floated through my mind like wayward spirits searching for the eternal light.

My cart, after looping through two figure eights, arrived at the display of ripe bananas. I grabbed a bunch and dropped it into the cart. I lurched off again, tugging hard on my cart to the left. The wheels froze and the cart nearly careened into an endcap loaded with fresh blackberries. I hesitated for a full nano-second before dumping two baskets into the cart. I grabbed the bananas, sprinted back to their display and deposited them with the rest. Back at my cart, I shoved off and immediately found myself circling gorgeous piles of fragrant melons. I wiped a bead of nervous sweat off my forehead and then picked up a golden-netted cantaloupe. I held it in my hand and eyed the blackberries in my cart. Suddenly, in my mind the cantaloupe I was holding morphed into giant chocolate malted milk ball. More sweat began beading up on my upper lip. I nervously glanced at my watch.

Okay, I decided that I needed to make two batches of ice cream. I put the sweetly perfumed melon into the cart, navigated my way back to return the blackberries. Before long, a bag of sweet navel oranges was resting in my cart and I was balancing three boxes of Oxnard strawberries and two mangos in my right hand.

Oh my God. I forgot the cream! Wait, what recipe am I making? Do I need cream, or milk, or half and half? I glanced at my watch again and noticed that a full hour had passed since I became a cowboy in this fruit stand rodeo. I wanted to cry. I glanced into my cart and realized that I had the partial ingredients for about a dozen different recipes, but not the correct items to complete even a single recipe completely. I took several deep breaths and tried to remember the initial recipe that had grabbed my interest. I scooped up loads of produce and began dropping things back on the shelves. I began to laugh. It was the kind of creepy guttural laugh that only Vincent Price could deliver. My eye began to twitch. The cart began moving in circles once again.

I arrived at the checkout counter with a cart overflowing with items. I watched the cashier grow nervous as she noticed the sweat dripping from my body and uncontrollable spasm in my left eye. She glanced at the security guard and he stood up just a little bit straighter and kept me in his sights.

I don't really remember driving home but somehow I managed to emerge from our garage with grocery sacks in my arms. Ed recalls his concern seeing me arrive home from the store with blood-shot, watery eyes and fourteen bags of groceries in the trunk (primarily full of dairy goods, fresh fruits and chocolate). He didn't call the hospital until I collapsed face-first into a bowl of Aztec Hot Chocolate Ice Cream six hours later.

He's been very sweet and supportive of my recovery in these last few days. Although I don't fully remember much after my blackout, Ed did manage to retrieve some photos from the digital camera the paramedics pried out of my hands. Below appears to be a lovely shot of the glistening Strawberry-Rosé Sorbet.




Also, Ed tells me that this one is of the Aztec Hot Chocolate and Roasted Banana. I apparently made the two and then decided to swirl them together into an exotically creamy invention. I guess that great inspiration can indeed come with insanity.



I'm learning moderation now through intensive daily therapy sessions. I've met some others here in the ward who share my story and we are forming a "Perfect Scoop" recovery group support session. While we know that it is impossible to swear off the recipes in the book, we have made it our goal to instead strive for moderation. Further, we've made it our goal to educate the public about the fantastic taste-treat sensations found in the book and to share its treasures with others. Below, I am sharing a recipe for anyone who reads this letter.

And to you David, I offer you my thanks for creating this book. I've given up the notion that you are in fact the Devil, or perhaps one of his henchmen. I realize that the problems I encountered were flaws in my own self-control and not your fault. I'd welcome you as a visitor if you ever come to Los Angeles on your book tour. The hospital security here have assured me that they can provide you with armed guards who will stay with you at all times.

Most Sincerely,
Kevin



Strawberry-Rosé Sorbet
from "The Perfect Scoop" by David Lebovitz

2 cups (500 ml) rosé wine (I used Red Bicyclette)
2/3 cup (130 g) sugar
1 lb (450 g) fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled and sliced

In a medium, nonreactive saucepan, bring the rosé and sugar to a boil. Remove from the heat, add the strawberries, and let cool to room temperature. Pass the mixture through a food mill fitted with a fine disk, or puree in a blender or food processor and then press the puree through a strainer to remove the seeds.

Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.

11 comments:

KT said...

Dude, I think you may have just sold a book. My husband peeked over and is now insisting on Aztec Chocolate and Roasted Banana ice cream.

I guess I'd better go shopping soon.

Acme Instant Food said...

It really is a great book KT (and no, I don't get a kick-back). The recipe combo tastes like an exotic chocolate covered frozen banana (like you get at Disneyland, but more adult).

christine (myplateoryours) said...

Pretty amazing. Glad you are recovering.

On yours and others' recommendation, I ordered the book from Amazon the other day and then wandered down to our tiny local book shop here in Apalachicola and lo and behold, they had the book there! I could have had instant gratification, but no, I had to have the darn thing shipped to Indiana, where I won't be til Monday. Sigh....

Lis said...

You're killin' me. Not only do I need the book, but I need an ice cream machine. God.

Excellent posts!

xoxox

tammy said...

I'm so with you on the Malted Milk Ball ice cream. Strap me down.

Acme Instant Food said...

That's too bad Christine, it's the perfect holiday weekend for ice cream. However, I'm sure that you'll find things to console yourself with while down in Florida. Have some more of those yummy shrimp you've been teasing us with. Now I'm craving some peach salsa!!!

Lis--Cuisinart sells a really god machine REFURBISHED. I purchased one. GREAT price and excellent machine. It looks brand new and works like a charm.
http://www.amazon.com/Remanufactured-Cuisinart-ICE-50BC-Supreme-Cream/dp/B000K9UQDC/ref=pd_bbs_4/002-8990054-7486454?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1180123534&sr=8-4

Tammy-Everyone seems to go crazy over that one.

Garrett said...

I just got my own copy of th book! Cannot wait to play with it!

Kate said...

No way, not in a million years; huh uh.... not a chance in he** am I ever even going to LOOK at that book, much less buy it OR in ice cream maker.

No way....I will totally live vicariously through you and pray that you don't lose your obsession.

Deborah Dowd said...

Hilarious post! I too am afflicted, but I am not wasting time or money on a therapist, I am getting a consulting cardiologist!

Erielle said...

That was the best 'review' of his book I've read so far! Hilarious. I dare you to post it on Amazon in the book review section.
The Aztec chocolate ice cream was the first flavor I made and I fell in love so hard that it's going to be difficult to branch out to other flavors now. But I have two tubs of mascarpone cheese in my fridge, so I guess the tiramisu flavor is next.
Fantastic post!

iamchanelle said...

is there a support group for those who don't yet have THE book?
gasp!
as if i have not been tortured enough by matt's recent post, and now this??!!
{clicks over to amazon...)
hilarious post. and hello, by the way. delurker chanelle here, thought i would introduce myself. :)