A few years ago someone sent me a recipe for boiled salted water. The recipe, on the popular recipe archive Epicurious.com, was, as expected, undoubtedly simple. It went something like this, “When salting water for cooking, use 1 tablespoon of salt for every 4 quarts of water.” That was it! The conceit of publishing such a recipe is either to inform the hopelessly dim, or to provide a taste of wit amongst the stacks of truly challenging and confounding recipes. Whatever the intention may have been, the recipe was a hit, garnering a few hundred user reviews – all of which providing some arch and hilarious commentary on the preposterousness of the recipe itself.
Here is a sampling of a few comments:
“I cheated a little and used “instant” water. Just add water, then add your salt and it just could not be any easier than that!”
“I find this recipe works best if you blanch the salt in advance and add the blanching liquid to the water.”
You get the gist. Admittedly it is a brand of geeky culinary humor poking fun at the need to overstate the obvious. I was reminded recently of my trusted boiled water recipe, while holiday shopping, when I came upon the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer. For anyone that has been frustrated by the task of slicing a banana, well then this thing is for you. For the rest of us, we are free to playfully ridicule you and the product at hand. This admittedly cheap plastic product (will cost you around $4) is advertised as a “faster and safer way to cut a banana.” The absurdity and lack of necessity of such an object has captured the attention and imagination of a few hundred people who have found expression in an assortment of Amazon Customer Reviews (all of them seemingly in jest).
Here are a few of the better ones:
“History is now divided in 2 categories: Before and After 571 Banana Slicer”
“Stop ruining your knives! The Banana Messiah is here!”
“This model is only good for right hand curved bananas. PLEASE make a LEFT hand banana slicer! My local grocer only carries the cheaper left hand bananas, I can’t find right hand bananas like all you rich city folk.”
And the list goes on. Stupid humor? Maybe. Or maybe this is some much-needed levity in a season of indiscriminate, and sometimes reckless, purchasing and consumption. What items can you think of that deserve such playful skewering?