David Brenner, the wildly popular stand-up comedian of the 1970s and '80s, was on The Tonight Show one evening. His guest segment had already happened, so he was on the couch as Johnny Carson chatted up somebody else.
Carson noticed that Brenner seemed to be daydreaming. Now, whether the following was planned or not, I don't know.
"David? Something on your mind?"
The camera switched to Brenner right away (which leads me to believe this was a staged bit) and the comedian said, "Actually, Johnny, I was just wondering who the bravest person in the world was."
Dutifully, Johnny said, "Oh? What do you mean?"
Brenner said, "Well, I think it was the first person to drink milk from a cow."
Carson giggled as only Johnny could, while Brenner continued.
"Somebody saw the cow, right? And he or she saw the udders dangling from the bottom of the cow. And that person is the bravest person, because that person said, 'See those things hanging from that cow? I'm going to squeeze them, and the first thing that comes out of them, I'm gonna drink it!'"
Carson, and the crowd, broke up.
It's hard to argue with Brenner's logic.
I think about that exchange whenever I think about how food was discovered in general.
Think about the stuff we consume on a daily basis. David Brenner is right---someone had to be the first to shove it down their gullet.
Take horseradish, for example.
I love horseradish. I spoon it on beef and sandwiches, probably with too much vigor. So much so, it makes my nose run, my eyes water and a searing pain zooms up my sinus cavity.
But I would NEVER think to use a root as a food, nor would I think of mashing it up and pickling it.
Horseradish root, before it is "prepared"
Who comes up with this stuff?
Who discovered that eggs could be fried, scrambled, boiled and poached?
Who was the first person to hazard beef tripe? If you don't know what it is, I don't have the stomach to tell you. Google it.
On and on---the foods we eat today without so much as a thought otherwise, had to have been "discovered" somehow.
And, as David Brenner said that night on The Tonight Show, those food pioneers are indeed among the bravest among us.
I don't even want to know about the stuff that was tried just once.
Note: I found Brenner's recounting of that "Tonight Show" appearance. You can read it HERE. Scroll down a little, to where it says 7 p.m., Saturday, June 20, The Finale Show, expectant in Norfolk