Green Pea Gelato, Emily Dickinson, and Pain



When a culinary experiment goes well, a food blogger gleefully does a victory dance in the kitchen and a genesis story of his/her new success gets blogged about — as to be expected. In the case of a kitchen experiment gone awry, a food blogger still retells the story albeit with less enthusiasm. But when a failure is not just an ordinary failure but one of epic proportions, a food blogger finds solace in a classic poem.

Emily Dickinson’s “After Great Pain a Formal Feeling Comes” describes how the mind preserves itself following tremendous anguish by going into stupor and stays there until it finally lets go of the pain.

After great pain, a formal feeling comes
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs
The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,
And Yesterday, or Centuries before?
The Feet, mechanical, go round
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought
A Wooden way
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone
This is the Hour of Lead
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow
First — Chill — then
Stupor then the letting go

First chill: It happened on a lazy afternoon. Still excited about having made some really good gelato, I decided to do another ice cream experiment. I caught a glimpse of a bag of frozen green peas nestled between a bag of pomegranate seeds and a bag of hazelnuts and remembered the petits pois ice cream I once had in France. Overestimating my ability to think rationally, I decided to pop the frozen peas, along with some homegrown hydroponic mint, into my Vitamix. The fine pea purée was mixed into the plain gelato base, then churned and frozen.

Then stupor: After a quick siesta, I decided to check on the gelato. A plume of sulfurous smell billowed out as I opened the container. In an attempt to convince myself that the taste was usually better than the smell, I took a bite. The sun went out and a heavy silence befell the entire house. I found myself standing there, deaf and dumb, with a spoon stuck in my mouth. The concept of this ice cream may be French-inspired, but its taste comes straight from Hades.

Then the letting go: What else could I have done? Into the trash can it went.

9 Responses to Green Pea Gelato, Emily Dickinson, and Pain

  1. Skeptic Turtle March 1, 2009 at 5:15 am #

    I love how you linked the green pea gelato to Emily’s wonderful poem. A wonderful mix of art and anguish!

  2. Irene March 1, 2009 at 6:18 am #

    Your post gave me a much-needed smile. Also, I love the title of your blog. 🙂

  3. Anonymous March 2, 2009 at 4:33 am #

    I find it hilarious that you attempted to make pea ice cream and were surprised that it tasted awful. Duh!

    Roger

  4. @elaan March 2, 2009 at 3:17 pm #

    It looks pretty in the picture – doesn’t that count for anything? 🙂

  5. Ricardo March 2, 2009 at 5:52 pm #

    Thanks for becoming my Foddbuzz friend, so I just buzz’d you hope you did me lol.
    I just wanted to say that that this gelato (icecream) looks amazingly delicious, not surprized is not tasty though as peas usually don’t make good deserts, you should try something sweet by nature and mix with things that compliment. I feel sweet potato and almond are a great one, or even parsnip and wholenuts and honey.. well sometimes is a matter of trial and error. cheers for sharing… 😀

  6. Leela March 2, 2009 at 6:55 pm #

    skeptic turtle and Irene – Thanks. 🙂

    elaan – Don’t let the gelato’s innocent looks fool you. This is thing is lethal. 🙂

    Roger – (blowing raspberry)

    Ricardo – Thanks a for a visit. I think I will try to rein in the adventurous spirit a little more next time. The green pea ice cream I had in France was good, though. This means the concept isn’t too crazy, but the execution was obviously flawed. I need to do an autopsy on this gelato to figure out what I did wrong.

  7. Jude March 4, 2009 at 4:13 am #

    Sorry to hear it didn’t work out for you. There has to be a pea ice cream recipe out there somewhere. I saw it on Iron Chef once 🙂

  8. oysterculture March 14, 2009 at 8:46 pm #

    I love the sense of adventure in trying out pea icecream and contrary to Roger, think it might not taste so bad – some of those Filipino desserts come to mind with corn and beans that are tasty but not what Western tastes are used to. Sorry to hear the exeriment was a disaster but please do not loose hope!

  9. michlhw June 12, 2012 at 12:45 am #

    haha! i totally laughed out loud. normally when i read something humorous i laugh, but only in my head, but your last sentence was so good my laughter actually erupted out of my mouth!