The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - EATING OUT | SEVEN DAYS - Aoife McEl­wain

FUNNY FOOD What do you call a fake noo­dle? An im­pasta! This is just the crust of corny jokes that re­late to food, of­ten used with great suc­cess as a means to make us laugh.

Who was the first per­son to fig­ure out that a well-timed lemon meringue pie in the face was hi­lar­i­ous? This gag, known to some as “pieing”, is said to have been first ex­e­cuted on screen by Ma­bel Nor­mand, oth­er­wise known as The Fe­male Chap­lin, when she threw a pie at Fatty Ar­buckle in the 1913 silent movie A Noise From the Deep (1913).

Among the most iconic food and hu­mour pair­ings is also one of the most dis­gust­ing; I re­fer to the Mr Cre­osote sketch in Monty Python’s The Mean­ing of Life. The hor­ri­fy­ingly obese Mr Cre­osote si­mul­ta­ne­ously stuffs him­self while making space for more. To this day, when some­one says “bucket” it’s this, and wafer thin mints, that I think of, and I am deeply re­pulsed.

One of my favourite RTÉ TV shows was Maeve Hig­gins’s Fancy Vit­tles (2009), an off-cen­tre take on the tra­di­tional cook­ery pro­gramme, fea­tur­ing Maeve and her sis­ter Lilly. While Lilly cooked in the back­ground, Maeve would chop and chat in the fore­front, offering her spe­cial brand of silly yet sharp com­men­tary on life.

The ef­fect was a funny stream of con­scious­ness, in the form of the kind of chats that cooks of­ten have alone to­gether in the kitchen, while the rest of the fam­ily wait to be fed. Why this show wasn’t com­mis­sioned for a sec­ond sea­son, I shall never understand. You can watch a num­ber of the episodes on YouTube.

“I’m go­ing to talk to some food about this,” is how Liz Lemon, Tina Fey’s char­ac­ter in the NBC sit­com 30 Rock, of­ten deals with the prob­lems that come with pro­duc­ing a late night com­edy sketch show. Lemon has a funny

US co­me­dian Aziz An­sari

re­la­tion­ship with food. A boyfriend leaves her a note, say­ing “I know this might be emo­tional for you, so there’s a meat­ball sub in the fridge.”

On Lemon’s of­fice wall, a solemn pho­to­graphic por­trait of a half-eaten plate of fish and chips hangs in pride of place. Lemon’s catch­phrase “I want to go to there” is of­ten used in re­la­tion to food­stuffs that she lusts af­ter. Once, she threw over the desk in the writ­ers’ room in a fit of ex­treme hanger, scream­ing “Where is my mac ’n’ cheese?” I ap­plaud you, Liz Lemon.

Port­landia’s first ever episode fea­tures one of my favourite jokes, about a couple who ask af­ter the prove­nance of the chicken on the menu at a lo­cal bistro. The wait­ress brings back a file on the chicken, com­plete with a pho­to­graph of the lovely chook. She in­forms them that the chicken was called Alex and it was raised on a diet of or­ganic grain. The couple are pretty happy with that, but when they find out the farm where Alex was raised is only an hour’s drive away, they de­cide to visit be­fore or­der­ing, to see for them­selves that Alex was eth­i­cally raised. The wait­ress agrees to hold their ta­ble for them. It’s funny be­cause it’s true; I am that per­son who asks, earnestly, “is this free-range?” in restau­rants.

It’s Amer­i­can co­me­dian Aziz An­sari’s love of food that has me think­ing re­cently about fun­nies and food, thanks to his cur­rent Net­flix show Mas­ter of None. Ever since his days on Amy Poehler’s show Parks & Recre­ation, as the well-in­ten­tioned fun­trepreneur Tom Haver­ford, An­sari’s love of food has shone through in his char­ac­ters, and Dev, the main char­ac­ter in Mas­ter of None, is no dif­fer­ent. His char­ac­ter delves into the depths of Yelp re­search to find The Best Taco in the city, and he bonds with fel­low ac­tors over the crew food on shoots.

Per­haps the most evoca­tive of his food ref­er­ences is the pasta ma­chine, given to Dev by his girl­friend Rachel when they first move in to­gether. Nat­u­rally, he’s ex­cited by the gift at first, but it re­mains un­opened and un­used through­out the first year of their re­la­tion­ship. It’s only when they go through a lull and have a fight that, in a ro­man­tic ges­ture, Dev un­wraps it and makes pasta from scratch, serv­ing it to Rachel as a peace offering. Watch the whole show on Net­flix and count the food ref­er­ences for your­self.


Me­spil Road, Dublin 2 € The Yo­tam Ot­tolenghi and Sab­rina Ghay­nour trend of Mid­dle East­ern food has ex­cited our taste­buds, and is cel­e­brated by Ir­ish cafés and restau­rants such as Brother Hubbard in Dublin and Ard Bia in Gal­way. That’s where you’ll find the rose-wa­ter-in­fused baked yo­gurts and the dukkah sprin­kled beet­root hum­mus cham­pi­oned by Ot­tolenghi and Ghay­nour.

Keshk on Dublin’s Me­spil Road is much more tra­di­tional and old-fash­ioned, in that its menu is a straight­for­ward take on clas­sics such as baba ghanouj, kafta and mous­saka. Usu­ally, a menu that claims to of­fer the food of three na­tions makes me ner­vous but here it makes sense. The culi­nary tra­di­tions of Greece, Tur­key and Egypt have been swapped and shared through­out the ages, and it’s th­ese that Keshk’s menu fo­cuses on.

The hum­mus (¤6.50) has a grainy, home­made tex­ture, rather than sus­pi­ciously smooth, and pleas­antly bit­ter with tahini. The ac­com­pa­ny­ing pitta breads are soft, round and fluffy, served warm. The feta frit­ters (¤6.75) are large chunks of feta cov­ered in a coat of bat­ter and deep-fried, as op­posed to crum­bled feta in a bat­ter with mixed veg­eta­bles. The feta is in­tense served this way, but the grilled cour­gette that ac­com­pany them go some way to tem­per them.

A kafta in gar­lic but­ter (¤16.95) is more like a meat­ball in a creamy curry sauce. The meat is flavoured well and cooked on a char­coal grill. The sauce it­self has re­deem­ing qual­i­ties but as a dish, with the ac­com­pa­ny­ing rice, it doesn’t ex­cite. The falafel (¤15.95 for six pieces with a side salad and more fluffy pitta bread) are good, if a lit­tle dry. The desserts are the usual sus­pects of chocolate fudge cake and ice cream, the baklava (¤5.50) be­ing the top choice for dessert.

The ser­vice is friendly and ef­fi­cient. The dé­cor in­cludes paint­ings of kash­bahs and med­i­nas on the walls, and in­stead of go­ing for the full on Mid­dle East­ern plush palace, the look is in­stead clean and comfy, if a lit­tle out­dated and bland. Keshk is of­ten noted for its bring your own beer or wine pol­icy, and the fact that it has no cork­age fee or ex­tra charge for this.

They’re open for lunch, too, and serve most of the din­ner menu at lunchtime prices. They also do take­away and are on De­liv­eroo, so you can in­dulge in their hum­mus in the com­fort of your own home.

Hansel & Gre­tel Bak­ery & Patis­serie

20 Clare Street, Dublin 2 face­­land GretelBak­eryPatis­serie ¤ The story of Hansel & Gre­tel is, like all the Grimm Broth­ers’ tales, a pretty scary one in­volv­ing a child-eat­ing witch. The only light­ness about the story is the chil­dren’s hope that is em­bod­ied by the trail of bread the leave be­hind them. They in­no­cently be­lieve that they will be able to make their way home again.

The Hansel & Gre­tel Bak­ery on Dublin’s Clare Street,

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