6.01.2012

An appetite for life: strawberry mango ice cream recipe, for Marina Keegan


It’s strawberry season in New England. Fat, juicy strawberries—not those bland, watered-down versions that we’ve been trying to pass off as fruit all winter—are now ours for the taking. They are sweet, luscious, full of life, full of intensity. We must savor them while we can. Their season is short.

We don’t think of ourselves as having a season. We go along with our ups and downs, with our ins and outs, with our personal little dramas. If we are lucky and if we choose it, we grow up and have children. We hug those children, feed them, watch them grow. They bring us immeasurable joy and sometimes pain. Then, if we are very, very lucky, if we are careful not to interfere too much, if we guide them lightly without burdening them with our own expectations and unfulfilled dreams, our children become passionate, engaged and joyful human beings. They have an appetite for life.

I want to discover the doubters in the shadows of the Taj, learn from the pilgrims pious only to mankind. I want to eat mangos with the orphans at the Kurukshetra Humanist School and tunnel the atheist transcripts in the ancient libraries of Delhi. I want to trace India’s rivers and railways for non-theist seeds – seeds planted by Gora and Roy and the authors of Hindi tradition. I want to go to India because I’m curious. Curious about the country and curious about myself. Curious about the crescendo of a secular movement for social change that’s setting a global precedent; a precedent with potential to alter the future of the nation and the world.

These are the words that my son’s close friend Marina wrote two years ago in her grant application to fund a study of Humanism in India for the summer. She got the grant; and she invited Luke along to travel with her. They shared a perfect set of qualities that engender good travel and enduring friendship: one part adventurer, one part intellectual seeker, one part fun-lover, one part possessor of humor and wit, all dashed together with a healthy measure of ebb and flow that make travel enjoyable for two people in close, often crazy, but never boring circumstances.

Her  words recall to me a life before. Do you remember? That time before the trappings of adulthood started to close in and make us forget the limitless sense of possibility that Marina had? The trappings that, if we are not watchful, will very subtly dull our appetite for living. With a few more years on us, the weight of our anxieties, problems, and past experiences start to accumulate, and we forget. We forget to take a bite out of every day. We forget to wake up and look around and say: Wow. Look at this. Look at all this. “This” is absolutely wonderful. “This” is absolutely horrendous. “This” is everything and nothing all at once. Wow.

Marina Keegan died in a car accident just five days after her graduation from Yale. She was about to move to Brooklyn to share an apartment with Luke and some college friends. She was already exceptionally accomplished as a writer, but it was just the beginning. She intended to start a job at the New Yorker in a few weeks.  Her play will be produced in Central Park this summer. And much, much more.

Like the strawberries in season right now, Marina was intense, juicy, sweet. One of her professors, Deb Margolin, described her:

Marina Keegan and Death are two incompatible concepts for me. It is a parallax vast and unbridgeable. This was a young woman of outrageous intellect, probity, humor, hope. Her brilliance had a restive and relentless quality. She was all legs, all brains.

She was also immensely kind. She agonized over so many issues: “How can I eat at Taco Bell if it can save a child in Africa?” Marina saw the mess of our world yet still remained hopeful, still wished to make it a better place. Above all, Marina knew how to be a friend.

Marina’s last essay, The Opposite of Loneliness, has reverberated around the internet, as have so many of the words she left behind. You can read them here. I hope you will. I hope they will change you, wake you up. I hope you will take a bite out of life today and relish it, and say to yourself, Wow. I hope, as Marina so fervently wished, you will  “do something to this world.” I hope, as she implores, you will BEGIN from wherever you are now.

We don’t know the length of the season that is allotted us. I hope we can all be more like Marina.

She had an appetite for life.

Marina in Jaipur
On the Ganges
Desert near the Pakistani border
At the Beatles' ashram
Preparing an 'American meal' at the orphanage



Strawberry Mango Ice Cream Recipe, for Marina
Makes about 6 cups

This recipe is a bit free form. It started as frozen yogurt, but needed more richness, so I added cream. The yogurt gives it a little tartness, but you could use all cream. Sweeten to taste—you  may want to add more honey or agave syrup. The mangoes, yogurt and rosewater were meant to evoke India.

1 quart strawberries, halved
2 to 3 mangoes to make about 2 cups of mango chunks (frozen will do)
1/2 cup agave syrup
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup whole milk plain yogurt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon rosewater, or to taste

Puree all ingredients in a blender. Chill until cold. Churn in an ice cream maker.



21 comments:

  1. What a great story about an exceptional young lady. Many lives have been blessed to know her. Thank you for sharing.

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  2. Beautiful, Sally. If you're going tomorrow, take a piece of me with you.

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  3. i saw "marina" on food gawker and had to come here.
    thanks for this, i miss her too.

    -yalie, '12.

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    1. She leaves a very high standard for all of us to live up to. Thank you.

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  4. Sally, you write so well. I love this piece. What a sweet tribute. I hope Luke (and you & Frank) are doing all right. I missed Luke when he came by SHS the other day.
    This is such a sad twist of fate.....
    om namah shivaya
    and
    love,
    Jen

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    1. Thanks so much, Jen. We are broken-hearted. I loved that girl to pieces.

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  5. What a lovely & sweet tribute to an extraordinary young woman.

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  6. Sally, a lovely tribute. So sorry for our loss.

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    1. Stephanie, Thanks. Yes, it really is "our" loss. I hope all who read her story will take away some real inspiration for their own lives.

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  7. My heart is with you and Luke and Marina's family, Sally!

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  8. I feel as if I am intruding, however I was moved by your memories of Marina. My intent was to find a recipe for mango ice cream as a tasty summer treat for my husband. What I found was a collection of thoughts giving tribute to you and your friendship with this young woman. Thank you for sharing this with the world.

    Love, peace, and lots of laughter to you,

    Angela

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    1. Angela, You are not at all intruding. It is odd to put such a tribute on a food blog, but the world has stopped for a little while, and there is nothing I can think of that is more important to share. I hope all who read her essay (the opposite of loneliness) will be inspired by her. Although the loss is deeply personal, it is also a loss for everyone--she accessed such depth with her writing, and her ability to drill down and then express her thoughts and insights so clearly was remarkable for anyone, let alone a 'girl' of 22. Thank you so much for your kind words.

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  9. Beautiful post Sally, just tragic to have lost such a bright and talented young woman with so much potential and all of her life ahead of her. My heart goes out to her family, friend, you and Luke. Just senseless. GOd give you peace, strength and comfort.

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  10. What a beautiful tribute, Sally... I'm so sorry for your loss. I've heard a lot about Marina through the local news, and it sounds like she was a wonderful, inspirational young woman.

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  11. A wonderful tribute. We live on through the stories others tell. My thoughts are with you.

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  12. Spectacular tribute...I was moved by the original essay, and now your tribute has given so much additional dimension and poignancy to the story...my thoughts go out to your family and Marinas.

    I believe that many, including me, now resolve to WAKE UP and take a bite out of every day.

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