Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Guess what's for dinner?

This was posted to the newsgroup alt.usage.english on 11 August 2014.  It's an example of a "feghoot" - a story ending in a pun on a well-known phrase.

It's not often I have to plan a menu.  My culinary skills generally extend as far as working out the instructions on microwave meals, and I can't always get that right.  After years of diligently piercing holes in the film I looked at the instructions on one the other day, and to my horror they said "DO NOT PIERCE".  The film was already full of little perforations, and I had inadvertently pierced it myself.  Clearly someone at the manufacturers had decided that the film already had exactly the right number of perforations, and that to add a single extra one would destroy the rigorously tested cooking process.  I took a chance and ate it anyway.  Amazingly I live to tell the tale.

But suddenly, at very short notice, I was asked to host the annual dinner of the Bath chapter of the National Pedantry Society.  (They used to be called the National Pedants Society, but no one could decide on whether to add an apostrophe to the name.)  So what could I tempt them with?

Fortunately, I'd just been out to buy some goat to make a curry.  I've always thought that goat was a greatly underrated meat, but currying it didn't seem the right thing to do for the occasion.  I skimmed through the various recipes for Bulgarian Goat Fingers, Goat on a Stick and Popcorn Goat, but it struck me that the simplest thing to do was to throw it in a frying pan and serve it up as a starter.  Well, it would certainly give the guests a start anyway.

Then I made a salad of diced boiled potatoes, vegetables, eggs and diced boiled chicken.  It didn't come from a recipe book, they just happened to be lying around in the back of the fridge waiting to be thrown out.  To my surprise, they turned out to be the exact ingredients of a Russian salad.  I mixed them up well, soused them in mayonnaise and hoped no one was worried about sell-by dates.

At that point I thought the best thing to do would be to give everyone plenty of alcohol, but it would have to be the wickedest cocktail I could think of.  Luckily someone had just posted a list of rude cocktail names to alt.usage.english.  I can't possibly repeat any of them here but I selected the most obscene one and prepared large quantities of it.

And what to end with?  They'd be expecting a dessert of some sort, but I had no ingredients for one.  All I had was the entrails of the goat that I'd cooked earlier.  Hoping they'd be too pissed to realize what they were getting, I made them into a sort of pudding.  It looked a bit like blancmange, and had about as much taste.

I was very pleased with my efforts, but what should I put on the menu?  I thought of dressing it up with a lot of fancy French names, but I didn't want to appear too big-headed.  It was supposed to be a modest occasion after all.  So I simply settled on:

"Fried goat before mixed Russian, and a naughty spirit before offal."

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