Thursday, July 20, 2006


Summer isn't only about ice cream. Even for me, ice cream's greatest and most unnecessary advocate, summer offers other sweet, cooling pleasures whose appeal increases by their juxtaposition to the humidity. No, I'm not speaking of margaritas, daquiris, or coladas, although all three are inarguably sweet, cooling, and pleasurable. No, this is all a lengthy introduction to my extolling the virtues of FRUIT. Fresh, ripe, summer FRUIT. Did you know that A LOT of the fruit we consume are the OVARIES of a flowering fruit tree? Now you do. Here is an ode to those ovaries:

My praise begins with peaches. Inedible in the wintertime, peaches are an ephemeral delicacy; their season is short, but their lusciousness is limitless. What is more scrumptious than a ripe peach, its delicate, downy skin barely keeping its juicy flesh from bursting out? The answer is NOTHING. NOTHING IS MORE SCRUMPTIOUS! Eat a peach and feel the juice drip down your chin; this is the definition of privilege.

On to cherries. Belonging to the genus Prunus (along with the aforementioned peaches and the forthcoming plums), cherry season, at least in this country, starts in June, and ends soon after. Brevity is the soul of wit, and, in this case, deliciousness. I like to work a cherry's smooth, taught skin between my teeth, eat around its little stone, and then spit the pit at criminals and racists. I love cherries; they are beautiful to look at, and are the best summer finger-food.

And then there is the mango. This beauty is the prom queen of the fruit world -- it has a reputation for being one of the most commonly eaten fruits in the world. This might be in part to mangos' high sugar content, or to their extreme juiciness, or to the fact that they are the national fruit of India and Pakistan, two highly-populated countries. I like mangos because they are tough to get into; their flesh is a bitch, but the reward inside more than makes up for it. At least they're not a tease, right? A fresh mango is messy and wonderful, and my own ovaries sigh enviously because they know they will never be as sweet.

Finally, the plum. I loved this fruit in a poem before I loved it in my mouth. And now I love it both ways, especially in the summertime. My paternal grandmother made a cake with plums that would drive you crazy overjoyed. A man in Patterson, New Jersey, forsake his wife for this fruit. And then he wrote about it. And she forgave him. That's how good they are.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


Colson Whitehead wrote in today's Times Magazine that he hates ice cream. And he hates it, he said, because he worked in an ice cream store.

Well, I call bullshit, Mr. Whitehead! From the looks of your article, it seems you hate freshly-made waffle cones and toppings, hate the pressure of memorization, and the act of scooping cold, hard, cream. You hate that all you ate for three summers straight was ice cream. But what the heck does that really have to do with ice cream?! It is not ice cream's fault that you were a teen predisposed to culinary redundancy and with a knack for over-doing it on the freebies. I think, Mr. Whitehead, it's time to forgive ice cream, not malign it publicly. I think it's time you and the sweet stuff reconciled. Allow me to be the mediator!

Mr. Whitehead, I also spent a summer working in an ice cream store. I was nineteen years old, older than you were at your job, and my ice cream store was JP Licks, in Boston, on Newbury Street. I lived in Boston that summer because of love and boredom, two things that made my $6/hour wage seem perfectly acceptable. I worked five days a week from noon until one in the morning, walking back to my shared sublet in the Back Bay/Fens area exhausted and with the hot fear of God and Rape in my recently developed breasts.

I'll agree that scooping ice cream at a popular shop, in the middle of the summer, is terrible work. At least you weren't on Newbury Street, Mr. Whitehead, with its tourists and locals and skaters and heroin junkies shooting their low-grade horsey in our bathrooms. Which I was forced to, more than once, clean. Scooping was hard work; I developed a mild carpal tunnel that summer because with the rush of customers I never had time to focus on the proper form -- I just needed to get their sundaes and cones (yes, even those diabolical waffle cones) and cups ready as quickly as I could. I weighed about 110 lbs. when I started the job, and the day I quit, I was just hitting 120. The culprit? Wet Walnuts. Every day for lunch I'd make myself a sundae and top it with heaping spoonfuls of walnuts drowned in maple syrup. It was delicious, it was free, but most of all it was a 15 minute respite from scooping or carrying huge containers of fresh ice cream from the giant walk-in freezers. See, for me, Mr. Whitehead, ice cream was a savior; or maybe I'm still experiencing some sort of Stockholm Syndrome? I love the thing that hurt me for two months, but at least I still love it.

It's better to love, Mr. Whiteheard. I'm not angry at ice cream just because one summer it made me fat and hurt my wrist and underpaid me and overworked me. It's not ice cream's fault; it's JP Licks fault on Newbury Street. I haven't quit ice cream, but I quit JP Licks because they wanted me to clean the bathroom again. Only this time the bathroom was covered in human feces on account of the aforementioned junkies. As my life flashed before my eyes in contemplating that chore, I removed my apron, said a polite "no, thank you," to my boss, and said I wouldn't be coming in the next day, or the day after, or ever again. And I haven't ever stepped foot in JP Licks again.

But I also haven't published invectives against ice cream, a delicious invention that deserves no enemies. I'm not one those evangelical dessert freaks you speak of, Mr. Whitehead. I'm just a lover of pleasure and happiness. Summer jobs are the thing that deserves your hatred, or perhaps the food service industry. Or tourists. Let's hate them! But not ice cream. Spare the ice cream. It is good. It is kind. It is all I have left, Mr. Whitehead. Go pick on someone else's best friend you articulate, wonderful bully.


Lately I:

drink like an insecure college student.

eat like a ravenous teenager.

think about food like a pre-teen anorexic.

One day I:

will act my age.

But it may not be:

until I am ninety.