JOKES TO STOP ALMOST ANY SERIOUS DISCUSSION OF FOOD

By Bob Schwabach

Originally published in the Chicago Tribune, January 22, 1979

Woody AllenWoody Allen has this routine in which he talks about a country where anything sexual is perfectly all right but food is dirty. He checks into a hotel room in a sleazy district and ask the room clerk to send up a tuna fish on rye. The food is brought by a beautiful girl, a lady of the supper, so to speak. He asks if they can eat a bagel together. She says, “I don’t do that.”

Well, sex and food have caused their share of anxiety, and as Freud once said, anxiety is the source of humor. But times change. There no longer is any anxiety about sex, so the only thing left to be funny about is food. Considering there’s a lot of anxiety about food, you better have something amusing to say if you still think mussels are biceps instead of bivalves. So we went to some of America’s funny people for help. Continue reading

HELP! HELP! I’VE BEEN BURGLARIZED

By Bob Schwabach

Originally published in the News-Journal, August 7, 1973, reprinted in the Chicago Tribune and other Knight papers.

Wilmington, Delaware —

WE ARRIVED home from vacation at three in the morning. I knew something was wrong as I looked in the living room window and saw the desk drawers and papers strewn over the rug, and bookcases knocked flat in the hallway.

The entire house had been ransacked. Room after room: drawers, clothes, books, boxes, closets, all emptied into piles on the floor. All very thorough. Lots of time. Continue reading

FOOD ON OUR MINDS

By Bob Schwabach

Originally published in the Chicago Tribune, October 16, 1978

“Sugar,” she said.

“Honey,” he said.

“Sweetheart,” she said.

“Cupcake,” he said.

He thought she was a real tomato — a dish. She thought he was sweet– he made her mouth water. The feeling welled up inside. Finally it burst out in an almost unbidden rush of affection: “I could just eat you up,” he said.

Cheesecake, beefcake, chick, pumpkin, cookie (It was poet John Ciardi who once remarked about the Girl Scouts: “Remember, today’s Brownie is tomorrow’s cookie.”). Something seems to be going on here. Continue reading

THE BATHROOMS OF EUROPE: A GUIDE ON WHERE TO GO

By Bob Schwabach

Originally published in the Philadelphia Inquirer

I felt the need soon after I entered the bathroom downstairs from the restaurant in Malaga, Spain.

There were all sorts of guide books to Europe–far too many guide books, in fact. But not one of them dealt with a basic problem certain to be encountered by every single traveler, young or old, of whatever nationality. I tentatively decided to call it “Where To Go In Europe” — in homage to a previous, mere local, guide book of two decades ago: “Where ┬áTo Go In London.”

Victoria Station

This was a superbly practical book, giving directions, hours of availability, and a rating to every public bathroom of any note in the London area. I remember that the public room in Victoria Station were given three-and-a-half pissoirs, and drew the rave comment: “A veritable symphony of public hygiene.” (Though I understand from more recent visitors that Victoria Station has definitely gone downhill since then, and it is now questionable whether it is even worth rating.)

There was a time for all these musings, and much more, because when I entered the stall of the bathroom downstairs from the restaurant in Malaga, in southern Spain, the handle came off in my hand.

Now this bathroom was in most ways no different from an ordinary American public bathroom, and in my proposed guide of “Where To Go In Europe” it would not rate so much as a single pissoir, nor even a paper towel epaulet. Continue reading