The Wealth of Ordinary Food
Administrator Idalya Lu Almidien shoved the empty plate aside. It seems I’ve eaten the Earth, she mused. It was a silly notion, of course. She looked up. The Earth would actually be consumed by the fleet of 317 5-mile long starships in orbit above. Soon, their cutting beams would slice the Earth apart and use the metal molten core for construction, unless she decided otherwise.
In the UN building ballroom, Idalya addressed the terrified humans assembled to hear her decision. Cameras flashed and others transmitted digital streams, capturing the moment for the world.
“We began when I informed this body, representing Humanity, that the Duletian Hegemony considers your species an abysmal failure.” Idalya paused to brush at the short brown fur running down to her hands. Her dark-olive complexion shined in the hall’s lighting. “Your wealthy relentlessly abuse your poor. You continually oppress one another over piddling details like monetary status, skin color, religion, and ideology. These are indications of a failed species.”
UN delegates from around the world groaned collectively. “We are not without compassion,” Idalya continued. “We considered that if humans could offer an important export, you might be spared. Your technology is uselessly backward. Nothing there. Your art is charming, but easily duplicated. Lastly, I am here today to sample your cuisine. If you can not help but pursue the crab mentality of each human pushing the other down, permitting none to rise up, perhaps your cooking might have merit.”
Nearly everyone in the room held their breath. The finest, wealthiest cooks from around the world cooked their most expensive dishes using the rarest of spices and ingredients. The exotic dishes placed before her represented millions of dollars in materials and labor. Idalya presided over the most expensive feast in the history of mankind. The chefs stood nearby, skin sweating, eyes staring with anticipation.
Idalya dabbed her mouth with a napkin. “After sampling Earth’s food…” She threw the napkin down. “I see nothing here worth saving!”
The screams of dismay could be heard for blocks.
Jason Bourdain, one of the failed chefs, remembered something about his grandfather. Watching Idalya leave the hall, he suddenly realized where they went wrong. He made a quick phone call to an old friend.
As she walked away from the building, the UN delegates screamed and pleaded to no avail. She walked past skyscrapers and wealthy magnates, ignoring them all. Then she heard a small voice say, “Lumpia, ma’am?”
A Filipino man stood beside his food truck dressed in stained shorts and a torn tee-shirt. He held out a cardboard tray of Filipino eggrolls. Ernest Sobiango never made it big like Jason Bourdain, but Jason never failed to stop for the best lumpia in New York.
She took it from his shaking hand and tasted it. The most influential chefs in the world watched with trepidation. Who does this guy think he is? He’ll only make it worse! When she handed the tray back unfinished, they all groaned. “Idiot!” the chefs cursed him.
Idalya turned to the chefs and delegates. “Earlier, I pointed out your wealthy oppression of your poor. Yet when I asked to sample your food as a final possible salvation, you give me food that only the wealthiest 1% enjoy. Can you not think? Can you not learn?” She pointed at Ernest. “At last, I enjoy the wealth of your ordinary food.” She paused. No one breathed. “My decision is rescinded. Earth will remain!”
The cheers could be heard for blocks.
Idalya leaned towards Ernest. “How long to make 10,000 Lumpia? I’ve got a hungry demolition crew.”
Jason Bourdain is fictional, but his grandfather is an oblique reference to Chef Anthony Bourdain. His TV show, “No Reservations” is one of the coolest shows ever. Bourdain is no pompous snob in a poofy hat. Raised in New Jersey, he smokes, drinks, and cusses. Not to excess of course. He takes you to foreign countries to meet the common folk. He doesn’t eat at snobby 4-star restaurants. He goes into the street and you meet regular people and learn how they live and what they eat. With every show I watch, I gain a greater appreciation of the diversity of our world. I’d love to have a beer with Anthony some day.
More about Anthony Bourdain: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Bourdain
A clip of Anthony Bourdain in Vietnam, eating one of my favorite foods.
Crab Mentality: I first heard the term in the Philippines, but you can see it practiced in every human society. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crab_mentality
This was written for YeahWrite Fiction writing challenge #202. Look here for more stories: http://yeahwrite.me/fiction-poetry-writing-challenge-202/