Kitchen Shrink: Food dishes up a culinary comedy routine

Following in the footsteps of Conan O’Brien catching the comedy baton from Jay Leno, here’s a Kitchen Shrink stand-up food comedy routine:

Edible anthropomorphism:

Food frequently becomes human, for instance, when you go on a blind date and you fig out when he/she is not your cup of tea. You go bananas and blow a raspberry when you see all the cottage cheese thighs, chicken legs, muffin tops, beer bellies, cauliflower ears, carrot tops, turkey jowls, pear-shaped figures, shrimps, string beans or butts resembling 10-pound sacks of potatoes. Too hard to swallow, you use your bean or noodle, start cutting the cheese and excuse yourself without leaving egg on your face.

Or, food is used for naming personality attributes and professional accomplishments: He’s/she’s a peach … a crab apple … a sour pickle … a cool cucumber … a cold fish … a bad egg … an egghead … a smart cookie … vanilla … a ham … a hot dog … full of ginger or vinegar … a top banana … a couch potato … a big cheese or a small fry who landed a plum job.

Food can also incorporate moral character and behavior as something’s not kosher when virgin olive oil sows its wild oats with the tempest in a teapot, the bad seed, the forbidden fruit and the lame duck.

Food fake outs:

When the scientists, farmers, advertising gurus, food engineers and etymologists got together to name foods, they must’ve thought they had been hired by culinary comedy central. Those nutty folks surely knew that a peanut is not a nut, rather a legume, and peanut butter is devoid of butter. Same with buttermilk that actually happens to be low cal. They must’ve been cracked when they named “eggplant.” The elliptical, smooth-skinned purple nightshade, a first cousin to the potato, has nothing to do with eggs, while potatoes have nothing to do with toes, and the thick-hardened corns you get on your toes have nothing to do with the maize crop. Yummy! Grapefruit is another misnomer. This bitter citrus doesn’t have any grapes at all lurking inside those fibers, and a pineapple contains neither pines nor apples.

Love, terms of endearment and sexy sayings:

When the love bug bites, your honey bunch or bowl of sugar is the apple of your eye, your little peach, your pumpkin who morphs into a buffet of baked goods including a cream puff, a cupcake, a cookie, a muffin and a sweetie pie. When in lust, you ogle your cheesecake or beefcake, a real hot tamale who gives you a little sugar and spices up your life. Whether love or lust, apple pie without some cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze.

For some culinary antics, try reversing the order of your meals serving breakfast for dinner or diddle around with your courses - serve dessert as an appetizer, which the kids will surely love, and soup or salad for dessert. Serve a spoon with the salad, put the soup in a coffee mug and pasta in a juice glass. If you’re a can-opener cook, try surprising your family with a home-cooked meal, and if you’re a gourmand, do some microwave magic.

O’Brien, recently transplanted from New York to Southern California, still has a sandwich named in his honor at the Stage Deli in Manhattan - brisket, corned beef and pastrami, piled high on double rye bread. If I had a sandwich shop, I would feature the following specialties on my board:

The Paris Hilton:

Chicken breast tenders on warm, fresh honey white buns, hold the dressing

The Jay Leno:

Spicy salami on an Italian ciabbata roll

The Joan Rivers:

Pickled tongue on a crusty sourdough, tightly wrapped in plastic

The Larry David:

Smoked ham on a bagel with a sour dill pickle on the side

The Brad Pitt:

Thick slices of prime fillet on hearty whole wheat with spicy mustard

The Jennifer Aniston:

A Greek pita stuffed with feta cheese and black olives, “pitts” removed

Members of the Military:

Hero and submarine sandwiches with a lot of gusto and the works

My final contribution is one of my favorite fake-out foods - a vegetarian mock chopped liver pate. You’ll score some brownie points with your family with this dish.

Mock Chopped Liver

  • 1 tablespoon of virgin olive oil
  • 3 small sweet onions, sliced
  • 3/4 cup of shelled walnuts
  • 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas, drained
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs
  • Sea salt, fresh cracked black pepper and cayenne to taste

In a small saucepan, saute the onions in the oil over low heat until tender and caramelized. Set aside. On a parchment-lined cookie sheet, toast the walnuts until slightly browned at 325 degrees F. Place all the ingredients into the food processor and blend to a smooth and creamy texture. Add seasonings to desired taste and chill. Serve with pita bread or chips.