Saturday, October 14, 2006

Comedic culinary comparisons

Last night I was in the line to pay for a meager assortment of groceries at my local store. While waiting, I noticed some young Italian women (I couldn't have failed to notice one, as she had cut in front of me). Two were outside the queue and were giggling hysterically over the free recipe cards you sometimes see at grocery stores.

I don't know exactly what they were saying, as my Italian is crap, but whatever it was they found it so funny they were having trouble breathing.

Now, I know that English food has a bad reputation, but these recipe cards didn't seem that bad to me (maybe I've become accustomed to strange British culinary practices). True enough I'm not likely to actually prepare and eat courgettes in a blanket (baked baby zucchini wrapped in bacon and skewered with a toothpick) or these easy cheesy peas - which I had heard of, but honestly thought were a comedic invention. See here the cheesy peas discussed in an academic paper * on the BBC's Fast Show

The latter sketch is a series of fictitious advertisements shown occasionally in between other sketches, parody of cheesy TV commercials based on repetition, rhymes, colours and basic animated pictures. Following is the first of these adverts. In the show it is “announced” a commercial for “Northern types”, and performed in a northern accent, with the evident suggestion of the people from the north to be somewhat simple.

Do you like cheese? D'you like peas? Well, you'll luv these: Cheezy Peaz! A combination of cheese an' peas to form Cheezy Peaz! They're great for your teas! Come on Mam - think cheese, think peas, think Cheezy Peaz! It's easy-peasy with Cheezy Peaz! Pleeease! (FS, s1e4)

But certainly these Sainsbury's recipe cards weren't quite so funny as the Weight Watchers recipe cards of Internet fame.

Though I guess I can see why someone might get tickled by the concept of "secret soup". What's the secret exactly? With that weird reddy-brown color, maybe you don't want to know. And I suppose in some ways, it's not much different from inspiration soup, except for the degree of blending.

Anyway, these girls were so tickled, that one of them actually paid the 50 pence (around 90 cents) to buy the little ring binder to store the recipes in. And then she laughed her way out of the store - and into the arms of her English boyfriend.

"What's that?" I heard him say.
"Oh," she said, in a serious and culturally reverential tone "These are English recipes."


* Yes, that is a Finnish academic paper on the Fast Show. The Finns loved the Fast Show, apparently, and I spent a couple of hours with my Finnish relatives at Christmas watching the Fast Show on TV, in English , but subtitled in Finnish. What was really funny, is that several Fast Show sketches rely on you not being able to understand a word - or only understand a word here or there - such as the mumbling upper-class guy or the parody of Spanish and Greek television. The Finns though seemed to actually try to translate every word into meaningful Finnish. Though perhaps it was actually gibberish - I don't know - my Finnish is crap.

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