Oh, okay, you’re not screaming from some existential crisis, à la Edvard Munch, you’re just screaming for some ice cream. Or maybe you are indeed screaming about both. I often do, though I keep all the noise in my head; I don’t go around actually screaming. Maybe I should; isn’t that a type of therapy?
Anyway…my first existential crisis took place when I was 20. During that summer of 1982, I spent six weeks in Oxford, England at this strange university that mostly catered to Americans. It wasn’t OXFORD University. It was a peculiar place and I don’t even remember what I studied. That summer, it only rained once—this was disappointing, since I was hoping to enjoy some real British rain. Lunches were on our own, so all I ate was Chinese and Indian food. I ordered Pork Vindaloo at a restaurant. The waiter said it would be spicy. I’m from New Mexico—I laugh at the thought of spicy! Ha! Bring it on!
So I was eating this vindaloo and rice for awhile. About halfway through, I realized I was sweating like crazy. I couldn’t stop. It was fabulous.
That wasn’t my crisis. One evening, we were all hanging around the school’s common room, where pretty much everyone smoked and drank rather tepid beer. Being young college students, the talk went from light to dreadfully serious. We all got to talking about life and our ridiculous expectations. We then got around to talking about the inevitable end to this “mortal coil” (yes, we studied some Shakespeare). I suddenly felt very dizzy and I excused myself to go to the “loo” (England, remember).
I was gone for enough time that some of my temporary pals came to look for me. During that time, I was standing over the sink, my face “a whiter shade of pale,” contemplating the fact that I would die one day. I realized I was really sick of studying literature. When I returned to UNM in the fall, I dabbled in theater arts for a semester. I then injured my back and finally dropped out of school. A wise friend at the time identified my crisis as a classic case of existential angst and announced that it is always a good thing when a young person has such an epiphany (she was ten years older than I was, and thus, vastly more experienced with life).
Now I didn’t drastically change my life because of this—I still lived in poverty for awhile, drifting in dead-end jobs, opening a dressmaking shop for two years and barely paying the rent. I dated a few mostly worthless men, some of whom made me feel like shit about myself. I felt bad about many things, as plenty of 20-somethings do, since those years are almost a type of second adolescence.
An existential crisis is useful for perspective and the realization that your life is a gift. Of course, every day is not going to go perfectly well—you will have tragedies and annoyances. You will also have more satisfying times. Such a crisis should tell you to Carpe Diem, yet also plan for a future. You don’t throw your life away on myriad forms of self-destruction. You don’t stay with the relationships that make you feel like shit about yourself.
You should strive to enjoy the screaming, both the good and the bad, because it means you are alive.
You should also spend some time making ice cream.
And yeah, I’ll get over my moods, and strive to be more cheerful next time.
Do you need to treat yourself to an ice cream maker? I highly recommend it. Mine is a 6-cup capacity Cuisinart (well, it’s specifically a Cuisinart Frozen Dessert Maker, $53.00 on Amazon—sorry there’s no link; I’ve never monetized my blog and I don’t plan to clutter up my blog with ads—you’re welcome!) that my mom had bought a few years back, but then she gave it to me. Their basic recipes are fine, but I started fooling around with all sorts of different ice creams. The gadget is not too expensive, and if you do, indeed, want to experiment with making some special treats, they are worth the shelf/freezer space.
Pucker Up Ice Cream
In this photo, I have used limes and 2 drops of neon green food coloring—it just seemed to need a little color.
- 3 giant lemons (or 4 very large limes)
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup egg substitute
- 12 ounces cold ginger ale (diet or regular)
- 6 ounces lemon yogurt (or lime; light or regular)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon plus ¼ teaspoon salt
- A few drops yellow (or green) food coloring (optional)
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- 2 tablespoons turbinado (raw) sugar
- 4 ounces hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
Place a fine mesh strainer over a 4-cup glass measuring cup. Zest the lemons well and reserve ¼ cup; set aside. Cut lemons in half and juice them. Pour juice into the glass to measure ½ cup. Add the cream and egg substitute; combine with a whisk. Slowly add the ginger ale; let it settle down a bit. Add the yogurt, reserved zest, sugar, cardamom, and ¼ teaspoon salt and whisk all well. Pour into a 6-cup ice cream machine and mix 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium skillet. Add the turbinado sugar and the remaining salt and cook until the sugar dissolves. Add the nuts and sauté over rather high heat 1 minute; stirring frequently. Set aside in the pan and mix a few times. Break up the nuts and add to the ice cream. Mix another 5 minutes. Place in a 6-cup container; cover and freeze. Mix the ice cream up occasionally, especially from the sides. Freeze about 1-2 hours for a rather soft consistency; more than 3 hours for a firmer consistency. When very firm, take out of the freezer for 10 minutes before serving. Makes about 6 cups.
This will knock your socks off. Lime is just as good as the lemon, or you might try combining both. Try orange as well for a much milder version. My son-in-law said this tasted like the candy Lemon Heads.
For more information on the works of Edvard Munch, please see his section on ARTSY.