April foods’ day

Fool 'em with meanballs and other dastardly dishes.

April foods' day

ONE OF THE FEW holidays that has yet to be gobbled up for heavy consumer development is upon us once again—that favorite of kids and carnies, April Fools’ Day. Tax evasion and environmental practices aside, corporations aren’t generally known for their outlandish pranks, which is how it should be; good practical jokes are things of beauty, made all the more beautiful by the evil-minded individuals who craft them. Did anyone else’s Pop awaken the family with the fire alarm? Tell their 7-year-old that they’d been sold to Voula’s Offshore Cafe as a dishwasher? Invite their unsuspecting friends over for snacks, only to feed them an assortment of nearly inedible treats? Well, good heavens, people—get with it! Cooking is just another way of expressing your love, and what better way to do so than by doctoring your favorite dishes with terrible tastes and textures?

The classic method of playing tricks on the average Joe is by supplying a healthy dose of hot sauce where a little dab will do you. From extensive research (viewing the purple faces, watering eyes, and gasping mouths of my dear ones), I suggest Blair’s After Death Sauce (www.deathsauce. com). Many sauces boast of intolerable heat and Scoville units into the zillions, but After Death packs a punch that builds slowly before heading in for the knockout (and three other levels of Blair sauce are even hotter—I double-dog-dare you to try ’em). Sneak this stuff into a deli plate or under the cheese on a few potato skins, and just sit back and wait for the right moment to shout “April fool!” For you superevil geniuses out there, might I suggest using this fine sauce as a marinade for party meatballs? Slide a few into a baggie with the After Death, and let them stew for a few hours. Broil the “meanballs” separately, then slip them onto the serving dish with a pile of innocent meatballs. Nothing gets people coming back like random reinforcement—it’s the slot machine of snacks!

If hot sauce strikes you as a little too pedestrian, get even more dastardly with Graham Kerr’s Flavor Injector (available at Bed Bath & Beyond, $9.99). Traditionally used to fill meat with flavorful marinades, imagine the results if you were to use, say, liquid laxatives? This oversized syringe can be used to fill any solid food with any liquid. Booze in the fruity dessert? Bloody red Jell-O in the leftover fried chicken? The wonderful thing about this devilish pharma-kitchen accessory is how easily it can be used to infiltrate innocent-seeming dishes. Who would ever suspect the integrity of dear old five-bean salad? Inject individual beans with castor oil (seriously, this works), and bring it to the April 1 office potluck; the vinaigrette disguises the “off” flavor of the “special” garbanzos. With about one-third evil beans, the effects will keep folks near a toilet without actually landing anyone in the emergency room. Or load up those popular jelly-filled doughnuts in the break room with raspberry vodka. An important client meeting that day? So much the better. Everyone else is collecting unemployment checks. Why not you?

Canned bakery products are another source of unending delight for the modern merry prankster. Cut up a handful of cotton balls into little bits and stuff them inside biscuits before baking. The layers of dough puff up and blend with the fibers, so it’s nearly impossible to tell what is what until you’ve got the ultimate cottonmouth. Those cute little crescent rolls are simply begging to be rolled around dire snippets of such acquired tastes as canned clams, kimchee, or Fancy Feast’s Turkey & Giblets (look in the pet food section). Again making use of random reinforcement, some crescents can be filled with jam or chocolate chips as a tasty reward for those brave enough to go back for seconds. If you’re able to bake from scratch and will go the distance to play a trick, wrap balls of dough around bits of waxed paper, string, or fabric. Pancakes, scones, and oatmeal cookies all work well as disguises, and few things are funnier than a kid with syrup on her chin, waxed paper in her mouth, and tears in her eyes.

THE MOST BEAUTIFULLY evil trick of all is convincing those with special diets that what they’re about to eat meets their particular standards. Confronted with a vegan? Slip a little chicken broth in the soup. Tell ’em it’s Morningstar Farms veggie bacon in the fried rice or a soy dog on the grill. Grind up some veal and mix it in with “vegetarian” chili. Someone’s “lactose intolerant”? They only think they can’t process dairy. You know better! Promise them a rice milk latte and slip ’em a regular. With pranks of this sort, it is wisest to keep the truth to yourself. Avoid smirking when you are smugly informed (for the hundredth time) that it’s been 20 years since animal flesh has passed their pristine lips. Sometimes the subtlest jokes are the most satisfying.

Any of these deceptions can be practiced on an individual or a handful of deserving co-workers, but large parties are the most fun. Set up a buffet of doctored treats, procure a bunch of cheap booze, and invite everyone you know over for snacks. With a fresh sucker walking in every minute, the early birds reap rewards by urging the laggards to try the meatballs. With any luck, your guest list will include enough rude people to tell you off, rather than all meekly polite folks who would quietly expire before they’d scream, cry, and gulp a gallon of water, possibly embarrassing their host. If nobody’s speaking up, ask loudly if everyone is enjoying the food, then laugh at them. They may pitch you out a window, but at least they won’t leave scratching their heads over what a terrible cook you turned out to be.

Mark Twain said, “The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.” If you start this up in your circle, you can look forward to a lifetime of smugness as the One Who Tricks rather than the One Who Gets Tricked. Isn’t it about time we celebrated a holiday that will never get its own Hallmark card?


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