Not a Cookbook

Flanzoid Fram, the chief executive potentate of the Megloid Autarky, ushered his guest into the dining region with flamboyantly obsequious gestures. His visitor, the High Plenipotentiary Vorun, was a powerful entity, and widely known as an arbiter of proper etiquette and good taste throughout this arm of the galaxy. Flanzoid was most eager to impress Vorun, and so he had pulled out all the stops.

            "Please be seated," he said, pulling out a chair. "My servants have prepared what I hope to be a delicious repast for your culinary enjoyment."

            "My thanks unto you," said Vorun, nodding graciously. "I am sure it will be delightful."

            "We will begin with a green Marzookian salad, garnished with Oprium olives," described Flanzoid with relish. "Followed by warm octoid soup and freshly baked poa bread. And for the entree," he finished triumphantly, "We shall be having tender, lightly roasted young Earth human."

            Vorun, who had been wearing an expression of composed satisfaction up until that time, suddenly frowned. "Roasted Earth human, you say?"

            "Yes," said Flanzoid, beginning to feel a bit anxious. "A very fine dish. We managed to purchase a fresh batch that had just arrived from their world, the third planet of a rather minor star.  My chef obtained the recipe from one of the finest restaurants in the galactic hub. I have heard that it is considered a great delicacy among the denizens of the hub civilizations."

            "I am aware that it is fashionable to consume the meat of humans these days," said Vorun with a negligent wave. "But to be perfectly honest, I do not find human to be very agreeable. I had some recently at a dinner party given by the Dominatrix of Morut, and I had a very unpleasant bout of indigestion for several days thereafter."

            "Perhaps it was incorrectly prepared," said Flanzoid hurriedly. "I assure you my chef is the best on the planet and would make certain to cook it properly."

            "Perhaps so," said Vorun, with a doubtful expression. "But I suspect a different cause. As a result of my experience, I took the trouble to find out how this particular meat is raised. It was quite astonishing really. These human grow up in a polluted, overcrowded, artificial environment, absorbing all sort of toxins, before they are rounded up and sent to the processing plants. It is no wonder, in my opinion, that their flesh is tainted."

            "My word," cried Flanzoid, shocked. "I had no idea! But if that is the case, why do so many sentient beings speak of it so well? It has become so prevalent that some have even started using the expression, 'it tastes just like human' to describe many different kinds of foods."

            Vorun gave a polite snort of disgust. "There are always many who blindly subscribe to the dictates of the prevailing trend. They will eat or wear or say whatever they consider to be the latest style. Make no mistake about it, young Flanzoid, the ones who are following the whims of fashion now will come to regret it later!"

            Flanzoid could not hide his distress, and bowed his heads with shame "I beg you to forgive me, Vorun. In my ignorance, I tried to present such an inferior dish to you as our main course. I shall have the chef discard the Earth human and prepare a substitute of higher quality immediately!"

            "Oh, I don't wish to be of any trouble," said Vorun waving a deprecating pseudopod. "Any old thing will do."

            "Indeed it will not!" insisted Flanzoid. He thought a moment, and then suggested hopefully, "I understand we received a shipment of Vegan Squid yesterday. My chef could grill some up with a light Maladorian wine sauce. How would that be?'

            "Ah! Vegan Squid!" said Vorun, smacking his orifice appreciatively. "Now you're talking, my dear friend!"

            Later, much later, Vorun sat in front of the desk of the Consulate General of Earth, and sighed. "It's not that I dislike Vegan squid, you understand," he explained. "It's just that it cannot compare to the taste of one of your fellow humans, lightly seasoned and broiled to perfection. After refusing to eat it at every public opportunity, I find myself greatly missing the flavor."

            "But that was the agreement," the human reminded him, with just a hint of impatience. "We take care of your gambling debts, and you spread the word about how unpleasant and unfashionable it is to eat human beings."

            Vorun sighed again, more deeply. "A deal is a deal. And I do appreciate how much your population has sacrificed in order to save up enough galactic currency to assume my rather substantial debts."

            "We had no choice," replied the human. "Since this craze for dining on humans began sweeping the galaxy, the demand for human meat had been decimating our population. We had to do something. Any attempt on our part to stop the harvesting of humans by force would be futile, and would only decrease the supply, thus making the demand all the greater."

            "Yes, I can see your dilemma," said Vorun. "And I am happy to do my part to help your anti-publicity campaign." He lowered his voice. "But I was wondering if, strictly in private of course, you would object if I could obtain a small helping of human, just on very rare occasions, to satisfy my cravings?"

            The Consulate General bared his teeth in what most humans would have called a smile. “I'll see what I can do, High Plenipotentiary.”

Death Becomes Us

Beyond the Sea