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Fool’s Cafe – A Surprise Dinner Tradition
April 19, 2011 by 16 Comments
I’ve been wanting to share the insanity that happened over at our house on April Fools Day (night) with you for a while, so when Log Cabin asked me to blog about an update of a family tradition, I thought this was the perfect time to share…
Family Surprise/Mystery Dinner
(Great for April Fools or any time!)
My sister Trina, explained some of the history behind these mystery dinners in her guest post here. My mom used to hang a sheet up in the kitchen, so we wouldn’t be able to see any of the menu items. She would have all of them set out labeled with the appropriate number for quick serving. Then she would give us menus similar to what you see above (though not printed on a computer) and we would order our courses making the best guesses that we could as to what the items we were ordering, really were.
My kitchen is a bit too open for curtain hanging, but I did put up a foam core blockade and moved the table in to the front room so no one could see what was happening in the kitchen. I created these menus in publisher (I’m sharing below), and let them have fun trying to decipher them. The key is to have everyone order all four courses (or how ever many you serve) at the beginning, before anyone has been served anything. I had a mix of menu items that I thought were pretty simple and some that were rather obscure and difficult to guess. I was fun to see the orders come out. I was afraid BSB would have figured it out and have a normal boring meal, but that may have only lasted for one course. He was having to scramble like everyone else when his course came out looking something like these…
This course consisted of The Titanic’s Demise (ice cubes), Idaho deconstructed (mashed potatoes), colony builders (ants on a log), sugar transporter (spoon), and perfect coin place (mint–really it should be a mint mint per my clue). This one isn’t too bad, because you can use your spoon for the mashed potatoes, but there is nothing to do with the ice cubes since no water or soda was ordered, you might want that spoon for another course, and what will you do with the gravy that didn’t get ordered.
You could do this with breakfast foods and serve the syrup separately from the waffles or pancakes, like I did with the gravy and mashed potatoes, and also the chocolate syrup and ice cream (I’m so mean!).
Here are some other sample courses…
My son had to figure out another way to eat his vanilla ice cream, since he didn’t order any utensils with that course.
Oh, but my daughter has a knife for her ice cream in this course. Much better!
Here’s the menu I made. If you want to use all of my menu items, you are welcome to print this and use it for your own personal use on an 8 1/2 x 11 paper–landscape orientation. Cut the paper in half and then cut the side with the courses into fourths. (Right click to save image).
2. Deviled Eggs
3. Mashed Potatoes
(Utah consumes more per capita than any place else).
7. Cucumber Wheels
8. Ants on a Log
(Raisins on Peanut Butter on Celery)
9. Ham slice
17. Ice Cream
18. Chocolate syrup
20. Lemon-lime soda
If you don’t get any of them. I’d be happy to explain. I think BSB took issue with a few of them, but I’m ok with that, since there comes a point when you just have to get the menu done! Despite eating corn with a knife or slurping gravy or chocolate syrup, my kids, their friends and even BSB had a great time with this dinner! Each course that was brought out to each person was a great surprise for everyone at the table! Watching each other figure out how to eat each course, was highly entertaining!
This idea could be really fun for an end of school celebration, or some silly fun with friends over the summer. Trina wrote about a few different adaptations for particular themes or events. They did one menu all by states and food that each state is known for. That could be a great educational tool. I’m sure there are countless other ways to customize it or adapt it for your circumstances. I didn’t have all day to spend in the kitchen, so I had a few more ready-made or easy to make menu items, than my mom would have had. Also, filling all of the orders and serving everyone is a big job. You might want to enlist a partner in crime, if you attempt one of these dinners. I remember LOVING the mystery dinners like this one that my mom used to make when I was a kid, and this was a huge hit with my kids, too! Some things don’t change much over time.
Have you ever thrown or participated in a meal like this? Can you think of a fun occasion to try it?