Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Zen and Ice Cream

Soon after I bought my ice cream maker, my mother bought a machine of her own and a copy of The Perfect Scoop to accompany it. Now I like to make ice cream, but my mother churns away at her machine as if the world were sure to stop turning if her freezer were to sit ice creamless for but a day. Each week she painstakingly chisels her way through David's recipes, telling me how each wondrous flavor has touched her on a new deep and spiritual level.

This past week I was lucky enough to join her up in Willow for one of these metaphysical ice cream experiences. For weeks I have been hearing stirring reviews about the hypnotically tasty Malted Milk Ball Ice Cream. It seems every time I speak with my mother on the phone she is chowing down on yet another serving of this habit-forming substance.

My first evening upstate, we whipped up a batch of the stuff but unfortunately it would not be ready till the next day. That night I dreamed of a creamy malted milk ocean crashing its luscious waves against a crunchy malted milk ball shore. Needless to say, the next morning I awoke with voracious desire for malted ice cream. I wanted to break into the ice cream the instant I awoke, but I held out as long as I could. It was the afternoon that we started chipping away at the quart, modestly to begin with, then working our way up to a brisk pace. With the container of ice cream between us, we sat side by side on the couch giggling like children with each and every bite.

This is were things get a bit fuzzy. I remember telling myself, alright Madeline, this is is going to be the last spoonful. Yet some how my hand, in a defiant act, would ignore my mind's request and sink the spoon back into the silky crunch flecked concoction. Everything else ceased to exist. The colors and the sounds of the world around slowly melted away leaving behind only the comforting embrace of an all-encompassing bliss.

In the Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism, Zen is the state of sudden enlightenment often achieved through paradoxical statements or actions that transcend rational thought. I can't say for sure that what I experienced was Zen, but finishing a quart of ice cream between two people (I never even took a photo) for lunch can hardly be considered within the realms of reason. It was only after scooping the last spoonful from the now empty container that I woke from my blissful trance. I looked over to my mother who had not yet crossed back over the sugary bridge of cognitive thought. She was feverishly writing in her note book what I would later find out was a devotional poem about her own mystical experience.

The Buddhists believe that there exists many paths to enlightenment, yet somehow I don't think they ever envisioned Malted Milk Ball Ice Cream as one of those paths; my mother and I know better of course.

The Malted Path
by Vivian
I have lost all concepts of time and space,
and live but spoon to spoon, lost in taste.
The silky smooth and mellow malt
has had me so entranced, it's David Lebovitz's fault.
We share singing love and praise
with each bite surrender to our addictive craze.
Reality returns with an empty bowel
but the ecstasy remains embedded in my soul......

1 comment:

Vivian said...

OH no, after reading this very expressive description I must head into my kitchen and whip up a batch of enlightenment I mean malted milk ball ice cream.