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ice cream voyeurMelissa’s friend was pale and a little shaky when he nonchalantly pulled his slight 21-year-old frame off the stool, walked out the front door of a trendy West Village ice cream establishment, and quietly puked between two parked cars.

He wasn’t drunk.  Not even close.  This was an ice cream eating challenge (as in, large quantities very quickly), and Mike and I had a stake (pardon the pun) in it.  When we agreed to pay for the challenge, I know Mike was thinking of the days when he ordered a full pizza just for himself- as a snack. It was a combination of fascination, nostalgia and jealousy.

The ice cream served at the Victory Garden in the West Village is no 31 Flavors.  This is some fancy stuff–goat milk ice cream, “inspired by the tradition of Anatolian dondurma.” No, I don’t know what that is either, but according to their website, it is made with “the root of the wild orchid,” and has floral essences meant to “please the palate and elevate one’s state of mind.” Really, you can’t make this stuff up.

The flavors of the week included “Honey Lavender” and “Chocolate Rosemary.” And I have no doubt those floral essences were appreciated as much coming up, as they were being shoveled down (in other words, not at all.)

And as for the “elevated state of mind,” I suspect that unless brain freeze counts, all the mind elevation might have happened well before the challenge began.

So how did Mike and I end up sponsoring two teams of college juniors and seniors to partner up to eat a half-gallon of gourmet goat milk ice cream, with all the toppings and two extra thick cookies (made from all organic materials, of course) in under 10 minutes?

I blame it on a very tall, lanky red head, my daughter’s good friend who joined us for her 21st birthday celebration dinner.  Over a heavy load of Italian food – pizza, pasta, bread, wine, and of course, ice cream and birthday cake for dessert, he regaled the table with the tale of his escapade the night before, where he and a friend had taken on the challenge, and nailed it.  His picture was going up on the wall, and he won 10 free ice creams.  He was very excited.  The rest of the table was intrigued.

But no one was more intrigued than I.

“I could definitely do that,” I thought.  “I would LOVE to do that.  Soft serve slips right down if I remember correctly.”  How long, exactly has it been since I have had REAL ice cream?   I could not remember.

But would I do it?  At 50-something, there wasn’t a chance in hell.  My time for ice cream eating contests had come and gone- and I’d missed it.  All I could think about was how many more push ups, squats and spin classes I would have to do if I indulged in such a fantasy, and there are only so many hours in a week.

But I was willing to live vicariously through those young in age, with heart, determination and bravado.  Those that don’t immediately think, “how many calories would that set me back?” Or perhaps, those whose brains still have some developing to do so that consequences don’t really enter the picture at all.  You’ve got to love these kids.

So I, of course, encouraged them.

“Could you do it again? A second night in a row?” I asked.  “After this dinner?  That would be spectacular.”

“Absolutely,” he assured the table with the bravado of a young male who is about to conquer the world.  “No problem. I could do it again.”

“Well, then, I’d like to see that.  It’s on us.”

A young woman decided to be his partner in Team 1 (Yes, a woman—yay!)  My daughter’s boyfriend and his roommate took up the challenge as Team 2.  Me?  I was simply delighted to watch and take a picture or two.

ice cream challenge

The ice creams came out to oohs and ahhs.  They were big, they were bold, and they were cold.  Timers were set, spoons lifted, and the brain freeze began.

Remarkably, Team 1 (with the veteran) finished with a good 3 minutes to spare (the technique:  if you mush the soft serve around enough, you can pretty much drink it.)

And Team 2, well, we thought Melissa’s friend had thrown in the towel when he ventured outside to puke, but in this Anatolian dondurma establishment, there were no rules against puking during the ice cream eating challenge.

So just as nonchalantly as he had walked out, like a fine Roman gladiator, Melissa’s friend walked back in, sat back on the stool, and continued to shovel in the ice cream to the encouraging cheers of his friends. They finished the last bite just as the timer went off.

There will be four new pictures on the wall, and lots of free goat milk ice cream in their future.

Just as I suspected, soft serve slips right down.  At least if you are 21.

Confessions Of An Ice Cream Voyeur was last modified: by

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