Thursday, July 05, 2007

Mensa Humor

Genius Is Mysterious

All members of Mensa have I.Q.s of at least 140.

At a recent Mensa convention, several members went to a nearby cafe and noticed the shaker with an "S" on top, for salt, contained pepper and their pepper shaker, with a "P" on top, was full of salt. How could they swap the contents of the bottles without spilling anything and using only the implements at hand? Clearly, here was a perfect Mensa challenge!

They presented ideas, debated them, and finally came up with what they felt was a brilliant solution involving a napkin, a straw, and an empty saucer.

They called the (short of brilliant) waitress over to dazzle her with their solution.

"Ma'am," they said, "we couldn't help but notice that the pepper shaker contains salt and the salt shaker contains..."

"Oh, sorry!" interrupted the waitress. "Here," and she unscrewed the caps of both bottles and switched them.


  1. Pretty good joke, I like it.

    I have eaten plenty places where it's not immediately intuitive to know which is salt & which is pepper; you may assume that salt shakers have less holes than the pepper shakers, but that's not always true.

    I prefer Moroccan style mini tagines with salt, pepper and ground coriander and other spices. Not hygienic though, you have to use your fingers. Good restaurants always give you the mini tagine spice holders just for your table, and throw away & clean afterwards. So you only have to worry about others dining with you :-)

  2. Hi, Fruey!

    I never put salt on anything and I hate it when I pick up and start sprinkling what I thought was pepper only to find out it's not. Those are our standard table condiments. I've never heard of coriander and other spices sharing the spotlight with good old salt and pepper, but I wish we had more of a choice. A lot of pizzerias offer more of an assortment, like garlic and oregano.

    Tagine... that's a new one to me.

  3. In fact a tagine is a baked clay cooking pot, used with a conical top which allows the stuff being cooked to "stew"; the air & vapour can circulate & mix back with the flavour of the sauce.

    Maybe in the US it has a different name, but I've seen them used on US TV cooking shows before (usually as an "exotic cuisine" piece).

    The tagine is like a large plate with a raised edge; very simple to make. The conical top has a small well at the very top, to which you add water which helps the steam condense inside the tagine & convection etc (not an expert on physics).

    Miniature versions of these (usually grouped in sets of three) are often used at the table; each one probably isn't more than an inch in diameter. So you have salt, pepper (coarse ground black pepper) and coriander (fine ground coriander seeds). Because you actually lift the tagine lid off and take a pince of spice with your fingers, obviously this means that you know what you're getting (and can be far more accurate with quantity) at the expense of hygiene, see my first comment on how good restaurateurs handle that.

  4. Thanks for the explanation of a tagine, Fruey. Vietnamese restaurants use something similar to cook rice dishes, like in Indian cuisines. Not the small table size, but clay cooking pots as you described in your first paragraph. About the size of a French onion soup bowl, they impart the nicest flavor.

    As far as hygiene is concerned, it reminds me of an incident when I was in the restaurant business. New Jersey is well known for its diners. Back in the early 70s, you could pour milk or cream into your coffee or tea from a little stainless steel pitcher on each table. A middle aged woman actually lost much of her mind because of that pitcher of cream. It seems someone had laced it with a heavy dose of LSD. How authorities determined the source or diagnosed what was wrong is beyond me, but the state banned open containers on tables and ushered in portion control condiments. I remember when it was big news and years later, her son came to work for me when I owned my own place in Whitehouse, NJ. She came in once in a while and seemed like a nice, church-going lady, but you could tell she wasn't all there. He told me about that incident soon after he came to work for me, that it was his mother, and I remembered it well, since I was in that business. That was the only time I ever heard of something like that, but most restaurants give you little half & half containers now, everywhere you go.

  5. A man here buys seasalt and smokes it, so it gets a flavour, and sells it then 3 times more expensive.
    :)Now thát is smart I think.