During recent years, this country's major new development in the field of humor has been the ethnic joke. A single example should suffice.
Q: What do you think of an IQ of 184 ?
A: That's very impressive !
Q: For the whole country of -- ?
You can, of course, fill in the blank space with the name of any country: And that's the beauty of ethnic humor; all countries can be maligned equally.
However, not too long ago I heard the following joke and, as you might imagine, had difficulty believing my ears.
The question: "What's a sevencourse banquet in Ireland?" The answer: "A boiled potato and a six-pack."
Well, talk about your tawdry attempts to garner cheap laughs! It is one thing to make fun of other nationalities. But when they start in after the Irish, they are going too far. This deplorable trend must cease at once. And besides, they don't even have it right. This is the way it should have gone:
Q: What's a 13-course meal in Ireland?
A: A piece of corned beef, a slab of cabbage, a few boiled potatoes, some turnips, Irish coffee and a six-pack.
Tonight, an Irish banquet.
The Staples: Make sure these are all on hand: Whiskey (Irish, if possible); mustard, horseradish; butter; coffee; sugar; salt; cloves; peppercorns; beer.
The Shopping List; Corned beef, 4 to 5 pounds; 1 bunch of parsley; 2 pounds of potatoes, preferably small ones; 1 pound of carrots; 2 pounds of turnips and/or parsnips; 3 large onions; 1 large head of cabbage; small container of cream, whipped if desired.
Cooking the corned beef is going to require a good amount of time, anywhere from 3 to 4 hours, depending on the weight of the meat, so plan on beginning fairly early in the day.
2:30 p.m.: Put the corned beef in a deep, heavy pot and cover it with cold water. Turn the heat to high. When the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and just keep the water simmering. At this time you can add a pinch of cloves, the same amount of peppercorns and the onions chopped fine.
5:30 p.m.: Peel the turnips and/or parsnips but do not slice them. Add them to the pot.
5:45 p.m.: Now add the carrots, peeled but not sliced. When the carrots are in the pot, peel the potatoes.
6 p.m.: Add the potatoes. At this point, you are doubtless wondering how you can be sure that all of these various ingredients -- and we haven't even come to the cabbage -- are going to be done at precisely the same time. Well, you can't be sure. And in fact, if it happens that it works out that way, everything cooked properly at the same exact moment, this may be your day to invest in the stock market.
But this last half hour, you'll be doing a lot of testing, jabbing one of those two-pronged forks here and there. When the fork passes easily through the center of the meat, it is done: At this time, if the vegetables have not completed their cooking, you remove the corned beef from the pot, wrap it in metal foil, and return it for a final hot bath just before serving it.
6:10 p.m.: Cut the head of cabbage in half and slice away the core. Then cut the halves into wedges and add them to the pot. The cabbage should be tender in 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, if any of the vegetables have become tender, they can be removed from the pot and held aside until the final moment. However, at 6:25, all the ingredients should be back in the pot.
6:30 p.m.: Slice the corned beef across the grain into moderately thin slices and arrange them on the center of a serving platter. Surround them with the vegetables and allow butter to melt over the lot. Add a sprinkling of chopped parsley and serve in the company of mustard and horseradish. Then go to the refrigerator and fetch the next six courses.
After dinner serve the Irish coffee -- 2 ounces of good whiskey, 1 tespoon of sugar, strong coffee, all of it topped with cream. According to James Joyce, the cream should be poured "slowly in circular motion. Allow cream to float on top of coffee. Do not stir again. Excellent for after-dinner conversation."
Incidentally, don't be concerned if there are leftovers. The following morning you will chop up the corned beef and add it to chopped onions and chopped potatoes. You will fry until it is browned on all sides and you will serve this corned beef hash with catsup, salt and pepper. While most will dig into the hash, some will have two Alka-Seltzers, which is the kind of breakfast that people often have on the morning after a mojor banquet.