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Humor In Dishes


cabrales
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Tru, in Chicago, serve quite a lot of ''humorous'' dishes:

-Fish and Chips : tuna tartar with chips of vegetable ( the tartar is served in a small bowl on top of a fish bowl contaning a live fish...

-Foie gras with oatmeal with maple syrup

-caviar staircase

Patrice Demers

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Wingding-I really don't think the purpose of Cabrales question was to give example of dishes that provoke severe laught from the people who recieve it.  If it's the case, excuse me, I didn't understand the question.

Presenting food on uncommon surfaces is, IN MY OPINION, a way to surprise, to put fun into a meal!!!

Patrice Demers

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Another example of humor: At least during certain periods in the wintertime (?), Troisgros served a large cookie-like item in the shape of a Christmas tree towards the end of a meal. (It is not separately ordered in our case.) The item was placed flat onto a large plate with a sky-blue coloration dominating the centre of the plate. Then, a dining room staff member came by to sprinkle icing sugar onto the plate, suggesting the effects of snow!  When I first had this item, it was coincidentally snowing at Roanne. :wink:

Note I did not intend to trickle in my responses like this, but additional examples occurred to me.  Finally for now, there must be examples of humor from Iron Chef land, no?  :wink:

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Do members have input on whether humor might play a role in certain dishes at Park Avenue Cafe?  

I attempted to prompt my recollection of desserts sampled at Park Avenue Cafe. One item is/was called perhaps "Opera in the Park" or "Park Avenue Park Bench" (?).  The following website describes the dessert as being a chocolate concoction in the general shape of a park bench, with an edible lamppost.  I very vaguely remember having sampled an interesting-looking dessert at Park Avenue Cafe some time ago.

http://cuisinenet.com/info/cnetrst-319/?v=237

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Sara Moulton did a show not too long ago on fun cookie ideas from Gourmet magazine.  She made rolled cigarette cookies, that when finished looked like lighted cigarettes, and she served them placed in whimsical retro yellow ashtrays - tres chic.  I mainly tuned in to watch her make a forest of meringue mushrooms, which I think would be ideal to bring to our mushroom club potluck sometime.  When finished, she dusted them with a bit of cocoa powder, and they really did look like mushrooms.  She finished the show by making marzipan, in various shapes of brightly colored fruits and vegetables...much too pretty to eat, of course.

Not served in a restaurant,  but awhile back (I think it was at Easter) the pastry chef of the White House made a replica of the First Lady's scottie dog, made in chocolate.  One of a kind, I'm sure.  :wink:

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Richard Corrigan (& I am sure others) prepares a - what is the equivalent of synoptic, syngastric? - view of a whole pig on a plate with a slightly prissily presented collection of loin, black pudding, crubeen & some other bit.

One could (in a nose to tail eating sort of way) execute the digestive process digested in the following way:

Start with the mouth (tongue) then proceed onward to stomach thence a choice  - to intestines & onward & outward

          - or into the liver & spleen then heart & so on...

Finishing obviously with the tail (either pig or ox)

Wilma squawks no more

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A pig precis. :wink:

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Humor in food is a "peasant" tradition as well. A friend from a rural farmer's family in the Midwest told me of a Halloween tradition in their household of serving a chamberpot full of steaming cider with a few twisted crullers floating in it. (I wonder what they get up to in *real* French laundries....)

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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Gah. Cutsey stuff repulses me.  :sad:

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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[Rostang's] cigar dessert is a direct "steal" from Trama. I talked about that in the thread about oysters and pearls in the UK thread.

At Patria, one of the desserts is described as "chocolate peanut butter cigar paired with white chocolate espresso cup filled with shipped cream natilla".

I have not sampled the current version of the dessert at Patria, but did sample a version from a few years ago that had a chocolate cigar paired with edible matchsticks (presented beautifully to mimic a matchbook). That dessert is pictured in Douglas Rodriguez's "Nuevo Latina" book, which I reviewed at Chicama recently. The dessert in the book is called "Smokeless Macanudo", and is described as having been developed by the first pastry chef with whom Rodriguez worked at Patria. Rodriguez proceeds to note that approximately 1,500 of the desserts were served at one event -- the Great American Smokeout -- one year in NY. :smile:

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Noting that many responses in this thread to date have addressed desserts, I did some research by reviewing the "Haute Cuisine Francaise" book (apparently the most recent edition, although it is dated). The following were dishes that looked humorous from included pictures. Note I have not sampled any of the dishes described below, and the descriptions are based only on pictures included in the book.

-- Raymond Blanc (Manoir aux Quat' Saisons, UK): Pigeonneau de grain roti en croute de sel (roasted pigeonneau in a salt crust) -- The crust of salt may be lodged within a pastry shell shaped to resemble a cute pigeonneau/hen (complete with wings made of pastry, eyes, beak, etc.).

-- Paul Bocuse: Rouget barbet en ecailles de pommes de terre croustillantes (Red mullet with scales of crunchy potatoes) -- This was an entire fish, presented whole (with head, tail, etc.). The entire body of the fish was covered in golden-colored potato slices that were made to overlap and resemble medium-sized scales.

-- Paul Bocuse: Volaille de Bresse truffee "Halloween" (Bresse chicken with truffles, Halloween style) -- This dish featured a sizable, very orange-colored pumpkin (likely, although an unusual squash is not necessarily precluded) that had been largely hollowed out. The cavity housed rice, diced carrots or pumpkin and little strands of black material I could not identify from the picture. Sitting in this rice mixture was an entire Bresse chicken, with black truffle slices lodged between the skin and the flesh. The "top" of the pumpkin formed a lid for this dish.

-- Speaking of Bocuse, I believe Bocuse has a well-known fish dish. Fish is prepared inside a very large pastry crust that is shaped to look like a fish.

There were certain desserts depicted that could be potentially humorous:

-- Raymond Blanc: Le Cafe Creme -- This was an espresso cup and plate, all made out of chocolate. There were brown sugar cubes on the chocolate plate, and the top of the espresso cup had a white-colored material that resembled the froth of capuccino. There were even brown-colored swirls in the white material to mimic the effects of melted sprinkled chocolate.

-- Michel Trama (Puymirol): Le double corona Trama et sa feuille de tabac au poivre (The Trama cigar and a "tobacco" leaf with pepper) -- This is the dessert mentioned by lizziee. I noted that the version depicted had a brown sauce on the plate in swirls, beginning next to one end of the cigar, intended to convey the effects of smoke.

-- Patrick Henrioux (La Pyramide, Vienne): Piano au chocolate en "VT" praline amande et noisettes sauce, cafe torrefie (Chocolate piano) -- This dessert includes a small chocolate grand piano, complete with legs and ivory/black-colored keys.

-- Marc Meneau (L'Esperance, Vezelay/St-Pere): Poires piquees a la vanile (Roasted pear with vanilla) -- This was quite unusual-looking. A roasted (?) pear presented whole and with the skin had little sections of black vanilla pods sticking out of every part of it (except the base of the pear, which was on the plate). There must have been at least 20 such little black protrusions from the pear. It resembled somewhat a fruit version of a porcupine. :smile:

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I was reviewing Michael Buller's book "French Chefs Cooking", and came across a recipe for "Wooden Leg Soup" (Soupe a la Jambe des Bois) furnished by Paul Bocuse. Bocuse considered this "an immense pot-au-feu. I still serve it." The ingredients include: 1 loin of beef, 3 veal shins, 1 pork shoulder, game, 1 turkey (cut in pieces), 1 leg of lamb, 1 rump of beef, 2 large chickens (cut into pieces), 6 pork sausages, truffles, pistachios, veal shin bone, onions, bouquet garni, plus leeks, turnips and celery. Buller notes: "This larger-than-llife recipe, with its truly Tabelaisian list of ingredeints, makes a good story to tell while dining on a more traditional pot-au-feu. . . Neither Paul nor you should take it too seriously . . . ." :blink:

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The dishes that you cited of pigeon cooked (in salt) in a pastry crust

shaped to resemble a bird is certainly 'traditional' - though I couldn't

give you adequate footnote on that one.

Similarly the fish which is rescaled after cooking is an 'idea' which is very old - poached salmon, skinned and with cucumber scales is one example.

I'm sure the late 19thC was prone to this.

Actually (bringing the conversation back to duck-rabbit) there is always Northumbrian duck which is (leg?) of lamb butchered to resemble a duck.

Certainly retaining aspects of the live creature in the cooked presentation amuses me with its slightly mordant overtones.

And the simile of the post-prandial coffee or cigar is also (mildly) funny.

However the manufacture of simulacra of various objects e.g. the piano seems to be to have more of a kitsch sensibility than what might be wit.

And this, in the context of haute cuisine, is to fail to acknowledge the extraordinarily camp nature of much of the proceedings.

The (it changes now) mannerisms of the upper echelon of the Michelin world read (to my mind) somewhat as a terrible parody of the mannered late 19thC world of the haute-bourgeoisie.

Wilma squawks no more

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And this, in the context of haute cuisine, is to fail to acknowledge the extraordinarily camp nature of much of the proceedings.

Gavin -- When you have a chance, could you consider elaborating on that point? :smile: Obviously, on things that might or might not be considered humorous, there is considerable subjectivity. Note this thread was intended to merely set forth some things that could be considered by some to be humorous. In my case, I find much humor in an omelette with chicken as filling. But that's me; I doubt too many would necessarily share that view. :laugh:

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In my case, I find much humor in an omelette with chicken as filling.

But that's obviously funny.

I will try & think of a more coherent account of the campness of fine dining (without suggesting any likely success).

Wilma squawks no more

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Surprised no one has mentioned Louis Outhier's (L'Oasis) little hérrison de foie gras, or foie gras hedgehog... a quenelle of foie gras mousse was garnished with bits of black truffle for the eyes and sliced almonds for the spines!

If anyone has the old "Great Chefs of France" by Anthony Blake and Quentin Crewe (Galley Press, 1978), you'll find a picture on p.124. Great book profiling all the Nouvelle guys; sadly, long out of print.

Michael Laiskonis

Pastry Chef

New York

www.michael-laiskonis.com

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If anyone has the old "Great Chefs of France" by Anthony Blake and Quentin Crewe (Galley Press, 1978), you'll find a picture on p.124. Great book profiling all the Nouvelle guys; sadly, long out of print.

mlpc --- robert brown and I each have the Blake & Quentin book. See the below discussion of it under the "Chef of the Century" thread:

http://forums.egullet.org/ibf/index.php?s=...=1&t=3118&st=60

I bought my copy used, from the web, less than two years ago. :smile:

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