Wednesday, April 21, 2010

23. Eat a Vermontster

This week's New Thing was suggested by the students I'll be travelling with to the Dominican Republic for a service trip in less than a month. Unlike the Penguin Plunge, which they suggested, then left to poor trip leader Erin and I to do all by our own freezing selves, they also offered to help with the actual execution (as we can euphemistically refer to our gluttony) of the project. So, on a beautiful late April evening we found ourselves (minus Carolyn, who had to take part in the rehearsal of the school's MLK talent show)meeting up at Ben and Jerry's for the ultimate Vermont junk food experience -- eating a Vermonster.

Luckily, though I didn't know it going in, we had an expert in our midst. Ashley, featured in one of the pictures holding the almost-empty bucket, is actually a former Ben and Jerry's scoopster, and did a wonderful job orienting us on the ins and outs of ordering and eating this specialty item. For the uninitiated, I will share some of the tips I learned tonight. First, although the Vermonster features 20 scoops of ice cream, the wise eater will order only 4-5 flavors. Chocolate and vanilla bases with yummy chunks (like my personal favorite, chocolate chip cookie dough) are good choices, strong favors like coffee, mint and fruit are not. Hot fudge tastes great, but melts the ice cream in a hurry; and finally, be prepared for lots of big chunks of brownie and cookies swimming in melted ice cream at the bottom. Oh, and it's messy -- pay in advance, and set up your table with napkins, spoons and cups of water so you don't waste valuable still-frozen time getting them after the ice cream arrives.

So, as you can see here is the group arrayed around the Vermonster; Ashley, Erin, Corinne, Eireann, David, Mark, Kaitlin, me and Joy-Anne (who gets a huge shout out as the ultimate good sport. She's lactose intolerant, so came along to give moral support and watched the rest of the crew pig out with a smile on her face the whole time).

Final verdict: unlike some of my new things (like rock climbing) I think this one better not become a regular habit. But as a once-in-a-while indulgence with a crew of friends, I'd highly recommend it. And as the weather gets warmer and the evenings get longer, I'd say the season for ice cream pig-outs is just beginning.

52 Ways to Say I Love You Romanian. At long last, my ultra-witty and sophisticated British friend Matthew, who suggested the whole 52 language thing in the first place, has pitched in with a translation. The only reason it finally happened is because the Iceland volcano left him stranded on the island of Malta with the Pope, and it was either fulfill this long-postponed request from me or go find out if the Pope would have gin and tonics with him, and he had a feeling the Pope was more of a tequila shot kind of guy.

But better late than never. I'm still waiting for Maltese, but must thank Matthew for this (long-overdue) Romanian translation gleaned from his days living amidst the glorious Soviet-era architecture there.

Buna - Hello
Pa - Goodbye
Te iubesc - I love you
Doua bere va rog - 'Two beers please

Coming Attractions

Now that spring has well and truly sprung, there are all kinds of New Things to do. There won't be any this weekend, because I'm headed to New York City for a memorial service for a very great man, Dr. Alan Berkman, and a weekend long working retreat with Health GAP, the AIDS treatment access organization he founded. But once I get back, here's what's in the works:

Go bird watching. Saturday, May 1 at 7 am I'm planning on going with my friends and colleagues Kimberly and Valerie. Since I've never been bird-watching I don't know what an optimum-sized birdwatching group is, but if you're dying to check it out, and undeterred by the fact that we're starting at 7 am on a Saturday, let me know.

Learn to change a tire and jump start my car. I was all ready to learn these from Nigel last Sunday and it had to go and rain. Happily, we've tentatively rescheduled, and Saturday, May 1 is shaping up to be a New Thing double-header, with a lesson in the afternoon after Nigel completes whatever insane amount of miles are on his bicycling training schedule for the day.

Camel's Hump spring hike. Just waiting till the mountain is hikable, and there's a crew of graduating seniors (Josh, Luke, Ryan, Nigel and Sarah for starters), as well as alumni (like Kelly, who's just returned to Vermont from Washington DC and ready to get outdoors) who are ready to do the hike and follow it up with a trip to Claire's for a fabulous meal.

Travel, travel, travel. So, today I final worked out at least tentative dates for the summer's travel, and it's shaping up to be quite the adventure. If all goes as planned (still a big if), here's the line-up: May 18-28 Dominican Republic (new country for me) for a service learning trip with a crew of Saint Mike's finest. June 8-15 Head west to Tacoma to visit my sister and brother in law, Katrinka and Brian, and my fabulous niece Tigist. As a bonus, I'll be crashing their road trip to Idaho for Katrinka's high school reunion, and a chance to see a lot of old high school friends. June 19 - July 4. Trip to Jordan (and hopefully Lebanon and Syria -- all new countries for me) with friends and alumni Siham and Jamila and current student Connor, who will be researching the impact of water scarcity on Palestinian and Iraqi refugees in Jordan. July 5-10 Fly from Amman, Jordan to Kampala, Uganda (also a new country for me) to be a speaker and participant at an international workshop on AIDS, religion and social movements. And finally, July 26 - August 11: present a co-authored paper with my friend and colleague Jerry at Cambridge University at a conference August 2-5. Before the conference, do some hiking in Scotland (been there, but never to hike), and after the conference visit Denmark, yet another new country for me. Lots of new places and experiences in store!


  1. Once again, a fascinating post TT! I definitely wish I could have joined you for the Vermontster.
    and when is the scheduled trip to the Michigan/Milwaukee section of the country? We midwesterners are feeling left out of the list of 52!

  2. Can I learn to change a tire and jump start a care with you on May 1st. I should either be coming up to VT that Friday or the morning of that same day, so let me know what time you'll be getting started. xx

  3. oh I could teach you how to Jump start a car!!!
    ps: I bet the three of us can inhale a Vermonster...hahha...Well done Trish!

    I think I might add this one to my list.

  4. No thanks on the Vermonster Siham...I'm watching my figure! lol