Lettuce Eat Local: April Food’s Day


Amanda Miller
Lettuce Eat Local

I’ve tried all sorts of things over the years. Serving up bowls of frozen cereal for breakfast, dyeing a jug of milk green, making “cupcakes” that are actually meatloaf and mashed potatoes — April Fool’s is the day, and food is the game.
I like to play with my food anyway, so of course the first day of April with its long tradition of tomfoolery is the perfect annual excuse for some extra food fun. I do, however, hope others have been more successful than I in the four and a half centuries since the holiday’s instigation. Although it was originally a day to poke fun at those who forgot the calendar switched to the Gregorian method and had their new year’s day all mixed up, now anyone is fair game.
My “anyone” used to be my family and now is usually Brian, of course, but also Benson is old enough to be the brunt of a little trickery. Technically he already has been, as two years ago I made “fried eggs” out of spreading plain yogurt on a plate and topping it with apricot half “yolks” and chia seed “pepper.” From a distance it looked delightfully deceptive, and fortunately for me it tasted good enough that Benson enjoyed it with me even though Brian didn’t; with age and experience, I’ve learned to make my trickery still tasty since I’m always the one who ends up having to eat my jokes.
The most effectively I’ve made Brian an April Fool was when I used gelatin to firm up a cup of coffee. It looked exactly like the real thing (because it was, just with an extra ingredient)…until he picked up the mug for a sip. Tee hee. He refused to eat it, but I had planned for that and I love the texture of gelatin, so I fully enjoyed finishing both mugs. Win win!
Gelatin will feature in this year’s April 1st joke, but the joking part is that it isn’t a joke. I expect Brian to be on his guard, and I’ll try to act suspicious; suspicious enough that he’ll keep waiting for the punchline when there isn’t one. I’ll try to plate up some things instead of letting him serve himself, maybe put a covered dish on the table and pretend the lid is on for a reason. I’ll pretend I didn’t notice what day it was, and hit him with the surprise that oh look! the food is normal. (As normal as it ever is with me.)
To enhance the joke-no-joke aspect, I was thinking around for something that’s called what it isn’t. Popcorn shrimp was an idea, except I always think about how I want to make that literally sometime with popcorn and shrimp. Other options included Dutch baby, pigs in a blanket, monkey bread, toad in a hole.
Once I started looking for funny named food, the list kept growing. But then I saw grasshopper pie, and I knew I found a winner for all three of us. It sounds like a trick, so Brian will be apprehensive even though he knows what the dessert is supposed to be, until he realizes I didn’t actually toss in any arthropods: successful backwards joke. I can’t tell if Benson will be thrilled or uncertain about pie with grasshoppers in it, but either way, there won’t be any insects included in its preparation: successful child-safe joke. And I adore the combination of chocolate and mint, but wanted a healthier dessert right after Easter, so I’m doing that thing where I play with my food and don’t make it “normal”: haha successful forward joke on Brian since I’ll first pretend it’s a trick and then pretend it’s not when it kind of still is.

I’m not actually advocating throwing desserts in faces, just enjoying making another word joke by referencing slapstick comedy in my funny food. Up until right now, I didn’t know that grasshopper pie was associated with spring and Easter, so this recipe is perfect timing all around. It gets its name from the same-flavored Grasshopper cocktail, which got its name from its bright green color. There’s neither alcohol nor food coloring in my iteration of this pie, thanks to the sneaky spinach instead.
Prep tips: my mint plants are just springing up from the ground, so I’ll use what I can from them (it’ll even help with the green color) and supplement with the mint essential oil. Oreos are traditional to use for the crust, but I’ll be using an almond flour and cocoa version, so contact me if you want that recipe.

½ cup whole milk
1 tablespoon plain gelatin
3 cups ricotta or cottage cheese
1 cup plain thick yogurt
1-2 handfuls fresh spinach
½ cup white sugar
a couple drops of mint essential oil
1 baked chocolate crumb pie crust

Sprinkle gelatin over milk in a glass measuring cup. Let bloom/soften for a couple minutes, then microwave for 30 seconds and whisk until dissolved. Add to a blender along with the remaining ingredients (except crust) and process until smooth. Pour into prepared crust and refrigerate overnight, topping with whipped cream and shaved chocolate if desired. Serve with an aura of suspense.


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