Foodie Favorites, Part I: Brunch Dig in as we revisit "Breakfast Cereal Haiku," a game that puts a poetic spin on your favorite childhood cereals, and "Natalie Portmantoast," in which we mash up celebrities with the names of foods.
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Foodie Favorites, Part I: Brunch

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Foodie Favorites, Part I: Brunch

Foodie Favorites, Part I: Brunch

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From NPR and WNYC this is ASK ME ANOTHER. I'm Ophira Eisenberg and you might want to grab a snack because in this hour we're serving up some of our favorite games that have to do with food. It's like "The Hunger Games" except with fewer violent murders and more terrible puns. Joining me on this culinary puzzle adventure is the man who's always cooking with fire, our one-man house band, Jonathan Coulton.

JONATHAN COULTON: Yes. And, Ophira, I have to apologize for it being so hot in here. I don't know why I brought my grill.

EISENBERG: Is that - are you a barbecuer? Is that why you travel with your grill and guitar?

COULTON: Well, I'm always cooking with fire so I need to have my grill with me at all times. That's right.

EISENBERG: Do you have a favorite food, like something that one would make you on a special occasion that you dream of?

COULTON: Oh, yeah. Like my go-to special food?

EISENBERG: Yeah. Your go-to special food.

COULTON: Yeah, yeah. Cereal.

EISENBERG: Cereal. Oh, like are you a special cereal, like, handmade muesli with almond milk or something like that?

COULTON: No. No, just breakfast cereal out of a box. Any kind of box cereal is fine. It's delicious. Honestly, it's the perfect way to start a day.

EISENBERG: Oh, yeah. Just right out of the box. Breakfast of champions.

COULTON: That's right. And it's also the perfect way to start a show, which is why we have dug way back into our archives to bring you something from our raw pilot season.

EISENBERG: Ooh, raw.

COULTON: Raw. Puzzle guru Noah Tarnow leads us in a poetic game called Breakfast Cereal Haikus.


EISENBERG: We have Adam Hussein.


EISENBERG: And Karla Devries.


EISENBERG: Hello. So Karla, I am told through my intense research department that you work at the Met Museum. That is my favorite job on the planet that I can imagine.

DEVRIES: I do, yes.

EISENBERG: That - so what do you do at the Met?

DEVRIES: I work on the jewelry that goes in the gift shop.

EISENBERG: Oh, nice.

DEVRIES: Yeah, fun.

EISENBERG: Everyone's like ooh, what's your discount? Yeah.

DEVRIES: Yeah, it's good.

EISENBERG: And what's your favorite thing about working at the Met? Any - do you get to go behind the scenes or...

DEVRIES: I do, lots of behind the scenes. I've gotten to touch real artwork, very exciting.

EISENBERG: I thought you're not supposed to do that.

DEVRIES: Yeah, you're not. But behind the scenes, everyone's touching things, yeah.

EISENBERG: You can do whatever you want. Everyone's like, licking?

DEVRIES: Yeah. Yeah.


EISENBERG: Have you ever licked Van Gogh's ear before? And Adam Hussein. Hello, Adam.


EISENBERG: Now I'm really into this idea that you have a crazy hobby.

HUSSEIN: I do. I do aerial dance. There's a workout space in Bushwick, called House of Yes, where I go. And it's a three-stories-high ceiling, and we attach fabric to the ceiling and climb up. It's a great workout and occasionally, I get to fall from the top, rolling down and dancing up there.

EISENBERG: That sounds crazy. Do you have a special move; like, that's the Adam Hussein move?

HUSSEIN: Yes, the double-ankle drop.

EISENBERG: Oh yeah, yeah, I'm familiar.

HUSSEIN: You just - you wrap both your ankles together, and you just sort of let go, like you were on a bungee cord, but you're just sort of snapping back.

EISENBERG: Good, you guys are - you're risk takers, which makes you good quiz people, especially for this next quiz, because it is about haikus - or has to do with haikus.

NOAH TARNOW: Adam and Karla, I don't know if either of you have ever studied at a Shinto Buddhist temple in Japan.

COULTON: Who hasn't?

TARNOW: But if you have, it might come in handy, because this game is called Breakfast Cereal Haiku. If you know - or if you don't know, a haiku is a classic Japanese-style poem of three lines, exactly 17 syllables: five, seven and five.

Now, I am going to read to you some haiku about various breakfast cereals. For each one, all you have to do is name the cereal brand. For example, trio of spokes-imps, a most loquacious breakfast when you pour on milk. Ophira?



EISENBERG: That would be Rice Krispies.

TARNOW: That would be Rice Krispies.

EISENBERG: Who doesn't know their spokes-imps?

TARNOW: Who doesn't know their spokes-imps?

EISENBERG: Snap, Crackle and Pop.

TARNOW: Who doesn't know what loquacious means? So, basically, that's it. Contestants ring in when, or if, you know the answer. Whoever gets more right moves onto our Ask Me One More final round. All right, here we go. A scoop of dried fruits, a second scoop of dried fruits, plus digestive flakes.


TARNOW: I believe it was Karla.

DEVRIES: Raisin Bran?

TARNOW: Raisin Bran is correct, well done.


TARNOW: All right, next one, yellow, pillow-shaped, spokesperson from the high seas, rubs the palate raw.


TARNOW: Yes, Karla again.

DEVRIES: Captain Crunch?

TARNOW: I'm going to give it to you. It's Cap'n Crunch.

DEVRIES: Oh, Cap'n.

TARNOW: But we will give you Captain Crunch.

DEVRIES: I was trying to enunciate.


TARNOW: He's not really a captain. The next one. Petite crunchy rings, flavored with insect products, plus edible seeds.


TARNOW: Was it Karla, Ophira?

EISENBERG: It was Adam.

TARNOW: It was Adam this time. Adam?

HUSSEIN: Honey Nut Cheerios.

Honey Nut Cheerios, yes. It's a honey of an o.


TARNOW: Not ordinary, and the symbol for thousand, hawked to dieters.


TARNOW: Yes, Adam?

HUSSEIN: Special K?

TARNOW: Special K, indeed.


TARNOW: Fiend in a black cape...


TARNOW: I want to see if Karla can get this.

DEVRIES: Count Chocula?

TARNOW: Count Chocula is right.


TARNOW: That one's not quite a haiku. It's a hai; just the first line. All right, based on candy bar...


TARNOW: Really?

EISENBERG: That was Adam.


HUSSEIN: Reese's Peanut Butter Crunch?

TARNOW: It's not really what it's called, but we're going to give it to you.

EISENBERG: Yeah, yeah?

TARNOW: Yeah. Reese's Puffs, they are called. We will give it to you.


TARNOW: Based on candy bar, chocolate and jelly's pal.

EISENBERG: All right, I should mention right now that the score is tied.

TARNOW: It is tied.


EISENBERG: When it comes to cereals, we know what's going on.


EISENBERG: That's right.

COULTON: We have a cereal situation here.


TARNOW: Scary neon hues. Green, and some weird shade of orange. What fruit looks like this?


TARNOW: Karla?

DEVRIES: Apple Jacks?

TARNOW: Apple Jacks is right.


TARNOW: That means, in a very close game, Karla wins.

EISENBERG: Karla. Yeah, Karla, congratulations.


TARNOW: Well done.

EISENBERG: And sticking with our theme, if I said Natalie Portmantoast, you might think that I'm ordering brunch at one of those celebrity themed restaurants because that dish, I believe, would be - it would be a small portion. But so adorable.

COULTON: Adorable toast, yes. And what you are actually referring to is a game that we've devised that has to do with a fancy French word portmanteau.


COULTON: And what is a portmanteau, you ask? Well, it is of course a word sandwich.

EISENBERG: A word sandwich?

COULTON: A kind of a word sandwich, yeah.

EISENBERG: Mmm. We'll let our VIP comedian Lizz Winstead explain and she will provide some of her own homemade examples, along with our puzzle guru Will Hines.


EISENBERG: Let's say hello to our next two contestants: Dianne Nora and Jim Quinlan. Lizz, we know you are a huge word fan. In your essays, you like to make up portmanteaus, which is where you combine two words to make a new word, like smog, which combines smoke and fog.

LIZZ WINSTEAD: I did not make that up.

EISENBERG: No, your words are much funnier, like anticipointment.

WINSTEAD: Yes, anticipointment. That's a really good word. That is when - basically, it happens a lot on those entertainment shows that are on in the evening. Does Tom Cruise have an affair with John Travolta? And then they come from commercial, it's like, no, no, not at all.


WINSTEAD: Actually, it's not what's happening. And you're like, wow, that anticipointment of that was really intense.

EISENBERG: So, well, you've inspired us to make up our own kind of portmanteaus, and this game is called Natalie Portmantoast.


EISENBERG: Because we're asking you to combine a famous figure's name with a food item. Hooray. Puzzle guru Will Hines, can you please give us an example?

WILL HINES: I can. So, contestants, if I said, this star of "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" greatly enjoys putting a vinegary condiment on his hot dogs, the answer would be Steve Carellish.


HINES: Which is Steve Carell plus relish.

EISENBERG: So, remember, it's the famous person's name first and then the last syllable of the person's name will blend into the food item. Quote the author of the poem "The Raven," make my traditional New Orleans' sandwich on French bread with fried shrimp and oysters.



DIANNE NORA: Edgar Allen Poeboy.

EISENBERG: That is correct.


EISENBERG: It's a fried dream within a breaded dream.

WINSTEAD: Buried underneath your floorboards.


WINSTEAD: Though she may dress in raw meat, the flamboyant singer of "Poker Face" favors this cold tomato-based Spanish vegetable soup.


NORA: Lady Gagazpacho.


WINSTEAD: Why yes, it is. Well done, Jim.

EISENBERG: After this man wrote the musical "Phantom of the Opera," he celebrated with a tortilla wrap filled with meat, beans and rice.



NORA: Andrew Lloyd Webburitto.


EISENBERG: Yes, that is right. The music of the nachos is a side dish that goes with that.


WINSTEAD: All right, the number of times a day you can see this actor play Lenny Briscoe on reruns of "Law & Order" is about how many layers there are in this sweet Mediterranean pastry made from phyllo dough and honey.



WINSTEAD: Jerry Orbaklava.




EISENBERG: Nice. This Grammy winner might be the only person who adds black-eyed peas to this fruit salad, made from coconut, pineapple, mandarin oranges and mini marshmallows.

WINSTEAD: Did you have hippie parents, both of you?

NORA: I did not.


That's a problem. Health conscious parents?

NORA: Yeah.

WINSTEAD: They enjoyed ambrosia.

They do?

NORA: They do enjoy ambrosia.

WINSTEAD: And then would they enjoy any of the song stylings...


COULTON: Oh, you just gave that away.

EISENBERG: You did it. You did it. Dianne?

NORA: Will.I.Ambrosia.


HINES: There's no I in team. There's no I in team.

EISENBERG: They just hugged.


WINSTEAD: This actor promised Optimus Prime he wouldn't let the decepticons get a hold of the recipe for this French stew made with braised beef in red wine.


NORA: Shia Labouillon.

WINSTEAD: Oh. Marginal.

EISENBERG: Dianne, no, that is incorrect.


NORA: Shia Laboufet.

WINSTEAD: Shia Labeoufbourguignon.


NORA: Oh. I don't eat meat.

WINSTEAD: Beoufbourguignon.


EISENBERG: Dianne doesn't eat meat, so she wants to be excused from the beef questions. Well, Will, how'd it work out?

HINES: It was very close, but our winner is Dianne.

EISENBERG: Dianne, congratulations.


EISENBERG: That was a tight game and a hard one. A huge round of applause for these two contestants.


EISENBERG: After the break we'll play you one of my favorite games where we use authentic Yelp reviews to quiz Bon Appetit's editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport on how the 99 percent eats. Plus, we'll make Jonathan Coulton's music-food dreams come true. So stick around for the dessert menu.


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