Fool’s Café – A Surprise Dinner

It is April Fool’s Day, but that does not mean it all has to be tricks. It can be a great evening as Kendra’s family has an April Fools dinner tradition that is full of fun and mystery. If you wish for a larger crowd, have a little get together for all to enjoy.


“When we were kids, my mom would periodically put on a “Surprise Dinner” for us. I’m pretty sure this wasn’t her original idea and that others of you have probably done similar dinners, but I actually haven’t seen it anywhere else.”

“The basic premise of a Surprise Dinner is that you order your dinner in courses, but the food all has different names, so you really don’t know what you’re going to get and when.  She’d have anywhere from 20 to 30 different items, including a main dish, bread, butter, various fruits and veggies, a few small desert items, the utensils, drink, napkin, toothpick, and even an ice cube. She’d usually enlist one of my older sisters to help her, then she’d hang a sheet to cover the kitchen entry so the meal could really be a surprise.”


“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. It was fun to see the orders come out.”


“Beneath the menu were squares for each course. We’d write our names in each and fill in our orders, choosing 5-6 items per course. Then Mom and her helper would serve the meal. In later years, my mom added a list of “rules” to the menu. These included no talking while ordering, ordering each item only once, and you can’t save anything from one course to the next.”

“A few things to keep in mind if you decide to throw a surprise dinner. Your kitchen will be a mess as it’s taken over by 20 or so different dishes. Dinner will take considerably longer than usual, but that’s often a really good thing. When serving the dishes, serve a small amount of each, because you don’t want your guests (especially the small ones) filling up halfway through dinner. Rules of etiquette definitely don’t apply, so just have fun.”


“Despite eating corn with a knife or slurping gravy or chocolate syrup, my kids, their friends 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! 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.”



Answer Key:
1. Ice
2. Deviled Eggs
3. Mashed Potatoes
4. Gravy
5. Jello
 (Utah consumes more per capita than any place else).
6. Goldfish
7. Cucumber Wheels
8. Ants on a Log
(Raisins on Peanut Butter on Celery)
9. Ham slice
10. Corn
11. Fork
12. Spoon
13. Knife
14. Toothpick
15. Water
16. Napkin
17. Ice Cream
18. Chocolate syrup
19. Mint 
20. Lemon-lime soda

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