April Fools’ Day is a custom that is almost as old as mankind. Why do we keep it? It is nobody’s birthday; it has no meaning at all. And yet, for centuries it has been observed in nearly every country in the world at just about the same date. It has been a day for playing tricks on people as far back as is known. And though the reason for it has been lost in the dim past and is now forgotten, people seem to be unable to break the habit. We can speculate from where and how April Fools’ Day originated:
In ancient Rome, the playing of practical jokes was an integral part of “Hilaria” celebrations on March 25, celebrations associated with the coming of spring and the Vernal Equinox. In medieval times, it was known as the “All Fools Day.” The French speak of an April Fools’ joke as an “April fish,” traditionally attaching a dead fish to an unsuspecting victim’s back. The Hindus call the day the “feast of Huli,” where the main amusement is fooling people and sending some unlucky person on a fruitless errand. The person who has been fooled is a “Huli fool.” In England, an ancient legend states that April Fools’ Day commemorates the fruitless mission of the crow that was sent out in search of land from Noah’s ark.
This ancient relic of a holiday predates Christianity and probably originated from pagan festivities held during the vernal equinox, or first day of spring, which began around March 20 and ended on April 1. Some may guess that the origin of April Fools’ Day is due to Mother Nature, who fools humans into believing the weather will be wonderful as we approach April, when, in fact, it can still snow.
Before the 16th century, the world celebrated New Year’s Day on April 1. Pope Gregory changed the calendar so that New Year’s Day fell on January 1. It took many years for people to reform, as some were resistant. Individuals who accepted the new date played tricks on those who had not, referring to their prank victims as April fools. The pranks were called “fools’ errands,” duping others into believing something was true that actually wasn’t, and having them convinced they were going to an affair that didn’t really exist. Over time, this practice evolved into an annual tradition of prank-playing on April 1, migrating throughout Europe and introduced to the American colonies by British and French settlers.
April Fools’ Day is, for the most part, a day for harmless jesting and playing pranks on an unsuspecting person. Then again, if you are the hapless “fool” who fell for a gag, you might believe it’s a day of mockery and ridicule! Nevertheless, it is in good spirits that pranks are played, and the intent is that they not be harmful, but should be enjoyed by everyone – even the person upon whom the joke is played.
You may, by now, be wondering what any of this history has to do with a food column. I present to my readers a no better, more hilarious way to trick your family on April Fools’ Day than to disguise your food as one thing when it’s really another. The following recipe is an April Fools’ Cake – or is it pizza? It’s a dessert – or is it really dinner? But I warn you: this is a very difficult, complicated recipe that will take a lot of your time to prepare. (April Fools!)
APRIL FOOLS’ CAKE
- 1 jar (14 ounces) pizza sauce
- ½ pound bulk Italian sausage, cooked and crumbled
- 1 package (8 ounces) sliced pepperoni
- 3 cups biscuit/baking mix
- ¾ cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 5 to 6 slices mozzarella cheese
- In a bowl, combine the pizza sauce, sausage, and pepperoni; set aside. In another bowl, combine the biscuit mix, milk, eggs, butter, and garlic salt. Spread half of the batter on the bottom and up the sides of a greased 10-inch fluted tube pan. Spoon meat mixture over batter; cover with remaining batter.
- Bake at 375° for 35-40 minutes or until browned and a toothpick comes out clean. Invert onto a baking sheet. Arrange cheese over cake. Return to the oven for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Using two large metal spatulas, transfer cake to a serving platter; serve immediately. Yield: 8 servings.