by Kate Heyhoe
Robin Williams used to say, "If you don't think God has a sense of humor, then look at the duckbill platypus. It's got webbed feet, a duck's bill, a plump furry body, swims underwater, and lays eggs — right!"
Actually, the Australian aborigines didn't think the platypus was such a joke. They and Australian settlers hunted it to near extinction until it became an endangered species. If it was plentiful today, you might see it in a Stouffer's red box or a can of Campbell's soup, or at least in an ethnic market.
Shopping at the Safeways and A & P's of the world can be a rather insular experience. Of course, you don't find duckbill platypus in the meat counter or frozen food aisle of these markets, but you also don't find fried locusts, monitor lizards and lice — all seemingly bizarre foods but relished in various parts of the world. (Lice are said to be plucked and eaten live in the Arctic, or when found in large numbers, saved for special occasions.)
Still, the wide assortment of global foods is exactly what makes shopping at ethnic markets such a pleasantly fascinating mind trip. What the heck is that stuff? Do people actually eat this? How do you get rid of the spines?
In a South Pacific market, for instance, you might find a favorite delicacy known as palolo worms — ocean worms that, every November, cast off their egg-bearing ends which the locals scoop up as "Samoan caviar." The good gypsies of Europe favor hedgehogs: they pack hedgehogs (spines and all) in clay, then bake them. The spines come off when the clay is cracked and the meat reportedly tastes like suckling pig. Markets in odd corners of the world may stock these items, along with fish bladders, birds nests, cows eyes, and even fish lips.
Yet, if we reverse the tables (pun intended), we realize that many Western foods are equally as bizarre. Take our predilection for that jiggly-wiggly stuff called Jello — did you know it now comes in a glittery, sparkly version? and what about the all-American Twinkie? Could you possibly pack more sugar and unknown additives into such a foam-textured, compact space?
In our quest for convenience foods, we've become a faux-food society. I recently tried a bottled creamy salad dressing, but the overwhelming unnatural, lingering chemical taste forced me to throw it out at first bite. Real cream isn't meant to last until March, 2004.
Here then is my list of...
10. Le Seure Peas in a can
Remember those mushy gray pellets in grammer school cafeterias...
9. Marshmallow Cream
Don't know what's in it but it can't be good.
8. Vienna Sausages in a can
7. Fat-Free Cheese
Come 'on, folks, why not just eat rubber instead?
6. Tomatoes in winter
Even the ones labeled "vine-ripened" would break a window.
Mmm-mmm! Canned mushy mixed vegetables: delicious and nutritious!
Imitation crab made from minced pollack... Hey, George, if we tint the outside pink no one will know!
3. Beef jerky
OK, some of it's not bad, if you like the texture of shoe leather.
Mold it, shape it, squeeze it in your hand...Kraft's answer to Play-Do and Silly Putty.
And the Number One Joke Food of the Western World...
1. WOW potato chips, Fat-Free Pringles, and anything else made with that miracle substance: Olestra
Ah, yes, the laxative of no-fat substitutes. Anything with a label that warns "may cause abdominal cramping and loose stools" sure sounds appetizing to me. Thanks, Proctor and Gamble, for giving us the ultimate wonder food of the Western world.
Actually, there is one more joke food:
Rubber Chicken—the favorite food of stand-up comics; usually tasteless (the comics and the chicken).
Speaking of comics and chickens, raise an April Fool cheer for the King of Comedy, Milton Berle...
10. A rooster saw a slew of dyed Easter eggs. After thinking about it for a minute he said, "When I find him, I'm going to beat the hell out of that peacock!"
9. The cannibal king sat back and said, "I like those relaxed moments when the meal is over and everybody's eaten."
8. I bought my wife a foreign cookbook. Now she complains that she can't get parts for our dinners.
7. A cannibal mother pointed out a downed airliner to her small child and said, "It's like seafood. You just eat what's inside."
6. I knew somebody who used only sugar substitutes. After a few years he died of artificial diabetes.
5. "Here's your coffee, sir. It's Brazilian." "Oh, is that where you've been?"
4. This woman had two chickens. One became ill, so she killed the other to make chicken soup for it.
3. I came home the other night. My wife was in tears because the dog had eaten one of her chicken pot pies. I said "Stop crying. I'll buy you another dog."
2. "What's wrong with this chicken? It's all bruised."
"It was in a fight."
"Well, take it back and bring me the winner!"
And the number one food joke from the Uncle Miltie file:
1. Anytime a person goes into a delicatessen and orders a pastrami on white bread, somewhere a Jew dies.
Ba-da-bing, Ba-da-boom! Have you had your rubber chicken today?
Happy April Fool's Day!
Kate's Global Kitchen for April, 2000:
4/01/00 Food Jokes and Joke Foods
4/08/00 Easter and Passover Menus: From Nice to Greece
4/15/00 Spring Centerpiece Sides: Phyllo Baskets, Veggie Matchsticks, and Glorious Gratins
4/22/00 Easter Lore & Post-Easter Eggs
4/29/00 Wake-Up: It's Daylight Savings Time! World Power Breakfasts
This page created April 2000
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