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Poissons D'avril

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2011-03-31-graffit0017.jpg Anyone who knows me well knows that I wait all year for April Fool's Day. I plan it days in advance and spend the day fooling as many pals as I can. My mother won't even answer the phone on this day anymore (but I still manage to get her every year, even if she swears I won't).

In France they call this day Poisson D'avril or literally April Fish but in either language the gist is still the same -- it's national or international practical jokes day and it can be a great deal of fun when done in good taste.

I remember once on a trip to Morocco with The American University in Paris, after many long hours of sight seeing, finally retreating to a beautiful restaurant and eagerly awaiting an exotic lunch. Out came the typical and most welcomed tagines carefully placed on the tables before us. We all frantically lifted the cone in hungry anticipation dreaming of lemon chicken or lamb shoulder with dates only to find a single, whole, raw mackerel corpse in the dish. Dead silence, followed by the roaring laughter of our professor, who was tickled pink with his blague, immediately brought clarification to our horrified and perplexed expressions as he shouted out "Poissons D'avril!"

Now just because I love this prankster holiday doesn't mean I'm one to egg anyone on to do the same, unless of course you are as elated by the element of surprise as I am. On this unique day, when it is allowed to propose things that are not exactly what they seem to be in the form of tall tales, I propose the same can by done with the culinary arts, especially as demonstrated by chef Jesus Nuñez in his newly opened Spanish restaurant Graffit in NYC's Upper West Side.

Should you find yourself there perusing the inspired menu, let yourself be fooled by the dish called, "Not Your Average Egg." What comes to the table appearing like a perfectly poached egg atop a bed of fresh baby vegetables is in fact not exactly as it appears to be. While the vegetables are indeed vegetables -- farm fresh romanesco, Brussels sprouts leaves, asparagus and carrots -- the "egg" will fool even the most discerning eye. With the pierce of a fork, the expected creamy yolk comes running down, dousing the vegetables in golden splendor, but with the first bite the "white" is soon discovered to be none other than CAULIFLOWER. I've gotten an insiders glance into how this egg is pulled together and without disclosing any trade secrets, it involves a squeeze bottle of pureed cauliflower goodness, an eggshell and a little chef magic.

So if the mood strikes you are with a fellow dining companion whom you know to be an egg aficionado and want to prank them with a gentle and tasty holiday jest, order this and watch them smile in surprise as they delight in the revelation that they have indeed been pleasantly fooled. Hopefully it will be as memorable, however more enjoyable, as my Moroccan mackerel some 20 odd years ago.

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