Honestly, All I Ever Want to Do for the Rest of My Life Is Eat Ice Cream. So Why Don’t I?
An investigation into hunger, desire, and the limits we impose on ourselves.
A few months ago, I was in my local specialty grocery store when I noticed, all the way in the back, an ice cream brand I’d never heard of before. McConnell’s, out of Santa Barbara, California. It’s not underground, just not all that broadly distributed here in New York. I’d been craving ice cream lately, but for reasons I don’t fully understand hadn’t given in to those cravings in a long while. So I bought a pint, for $10. Mint Chip was the flavor.
Reader, that ice cream changed my damn life. Until then, I’d held up Breyer’s mint chocolate chip as the supreme ice cream in the universe. (I’m excluding Italian gelato from that hierarchy, for now.) But McConnell’s, man, the balance of creaminess, minty freshness, and the pop-crunch of the little chocolate microdots—that did it for me. I got partway in and not only decided that I should finish the entire pint right then and there but also decided I should figure out a way to eat nothing but ice cream from here on out.
Bye-bye, hanger steaks on my charcoal grill. Seeya, hot sauce. Adios, choucroute garni. Aufwiedersehen, carnitas. As of that moment, ice cream—mostly McConnell’s mint chip, but maybe some Jeni’s sweet corn with blackberry, occasionally good ol’ Häägën Däzs sträwbërry, the soft-serve from Howard’s Drive-In, and honestly whatever else I felt like—would constant the entirety of my diet.
Could I do this? I mean, maybe! I’m in good shape, I get tons of exercise, and it’s not like I’d overeat ice cream. I’d just eat what I had—for breakfast, lunch, and dinner—and stop when I was no longer hungry. I’d generally be buying quality ice cream, not that shit loaded with fillers and fake sugars and gelatinizing stabilizers. I didn’t want to poison myself, you know. Even if I switched to an all-ice-cream regimen, I’d probably switch things up on occasion with, like, hummus or nikujaga or linguine alle vongole. As they say, man cannot live on cookie dough alone.
But… I didn’t do it. In fact, I didn’t even finish that pint of mint chip (at least, not until a day or two later, consuming it in judicious servings). And yet, ever since that moment, I’ve wanted to completely upend how I eat.
And seriously, why not? I’m 42, nearly 43. I’ve made it this far, eating a broad range of well-made, mostly home-cooked foods. I like salads. I have stir-fried greens probably four nights a week. I may roast whole pigs, but it’s not like I eat whole pigs. I’ll buy a pound of bacon, then take pairs of strips and freeze them in Ziploc snack bags. Basically, I don’t overdo it.
But at this point, why the fuck not? Why don’t I just eat the things I love—or perhaps the thing I love most—and spend the next few decades dealing with the consequences, if indeed there are any? Is ice cream—good, true ice cream made with real ingredients—that bad for you?
(Not really, says Turkey Hill, although I’d probably need some vitamin and protein supplements to meet my RDAs of various things.)
There’s the kids to consider, I suppose. If I were eating nothing but ice cream, surely they’d want it, too, and wouldn’t understand when I force-fed them tagliatelle al ragù. They need to get to 42, or even 43, in a relatively healthy state, so they can make the same decision I’m now faced with.
There’s also the issue that, even though I want ice cream at pretty much all hours of the day, I also want other things, too. Oysters. Glazed hakurei turnips. Cold summer somen. Matzo ball soup. I can’t physically eat nothing but ice cream and simultaneously eat all those other things, too.
Or maybe I could! I suppose I could just eat and eat and eat anything and everything I’ve ever wanted to, whenever I want to. Who’s to stop me?
Well, me for one. As I’ve gotten older, I find I get fuller faster. I don’t eat like the vacuum cleaner I until recently was. I stop, because both my stomach and my brain tell me to—even though there’s that corner of my brain that remains devoted to unflinching gluttony and desire, two deadly sins ensconced in the folds of my lobes. (Now I’m hankering for foie gras.)
So, not now. Fine. But for how long? How long can I, should I, put this off? Till the kids are out of the house? Till my teeth have degraded to the point that ice cream is all I can eat? Till I just can’t bear it any longer?
I can do this—both the waiting and the switch. One day, it can and will happen, and you’ll see a new Matt here, with a pint in one hand and a cold steel spoon in the other. It may not be this year, nor next, but it will happen eventually—and if there’s any justice in the universe, McConnell’s will still be around.