“Would you like to see the menu?” he said. “Or would you like to meet the Dish of the Day?” “Huh?” said Ford. “Huh?” said Arthur. “Huh?” said Trillian. “That’s cool,” said Zaphod. “We’ll meet the meat.”
A large dairy animal approached Zaphod Beelebrox’s table, a large fat meaty quadraped of the bovine type with large watery eyes, small horns and what might have been an ingratiating smile on its lips. “Good evening,” it lowed and sat back heavily on its haunches, “I am the main Dish of the Day. May I interest you in parts of my body?” It harrumphed and gurgled a bit, wriggled its hind quarters into a more comfortable position and gazed peacefully at them. Its gaze was met by looks of startled bewilderment from Arthur and Trillian, a resigned shrug from Ford Prefect and naked hunger from Zaphod Beeblebrox.
“Something off the shoulder perhaps?” suggested the animal. “Braised in a white wine sauce?” “Er, your shoulder?” said Arthur in a horrified whisper. “But naturally my shoulder, sir,” mooed the animal contentedly, “nobody else’s is mine to offer.”Zaphod leapt to his feet and started prodding and feeling the animal’s shoulder appreciatively.“Or the rump is very good,” murmured the animal. “I’ve been exercising it and eating plenty of grain, so there’s a lot of good meat there.” It gave a mellow grunt, gurgled again and started to chew the cud. It swallowed the cud again.
“Or a casserole of me perhaps?” it added.“ You mean this animal actually wants us to eat it?” whispered Trillian to Ford. “Me?” said Ford, with a glazed look in his eyes. “I don’t mean anything.”“That’s absolutely horrible,” exclaimed Arthur, “the most revolting thing I’ve ever heard.”“What’s the problem, Earthman?” said Zaphod, now transferring his attention to the animal’s enormous rump.“I just don’t want to eat an animal that’s standing there inviting me to,” said Arthur “It’s heartless.”
“Better than eating an animal that doesn’t want to be eaten,” said Zaphod.
“That’s not the point,” Arthur protested. Then he thought about it for a moment. “All right,” he said, “maybe it is the point. I don’t care, I’m not going to think about it now. I’ll just … er …” The Universe raged about him in its death throes.“I think I’ll just have a green salad,” he muttered. “May I urge you to consider my liver?” asked the animal, “it must be very rich and tender by now, I’ve been force feeding myself for months.” “A green salad,” said Arthur emphatically.
“A green salad?” said the animal, rolling his eyes disapprovingly at Arthur. “Are you going to tell me,” said Arthur, “that I shouldn’t have the green salad?”
“Well,” said the animal, “I know many vegetables that are clear on that point. Which is why it was eventually decided to cut through the whole tangled problem and breed an animal that actually wanted to be eaten and was capable of saying so clearly and distinctly. And here I am.”
It managed a very slight bow. “Glass of water please,” said Arthur. “Look,” said Zaphod, “we want to eat, we don’t want to make a meal of the issues. Four rare steaks please, and hurry. We haven’t eaten in five hundred and seventy-six thousand million years.” The animal staggered to its feet. It gave a mellow gurgle. “A very wise choice, sir, if I may say so. Very good,” it said. “I’ll just nip off and shoot myself.”He turned and gave a friendly wink to Arthur. “Don’t worry, sir,” he said, “I’ll be very humane.”It waddled unhurriedly off to the kitchen.
Adams, Douglas. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Pan Books. 1980
I should probably mention right near the beginning, that my outlook probably aligns more with Zaphod Beelebrox than that of Arthur Dent. Mostly because when I’m hungry, I become almost primal about my need to satiate my growling stomach. Post event, gurgling with contentment I might feel more introspective about what I’d done and who… or indeed what exactly I’d eaten…
… eh, maybe.
The truth is more likely that if I was on Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 (the Rugby Team that crash in the Andes in 1972 and resorted to cannibalism to survive) I would have been ‘Right, we’re eating the skinny guy in 5C first, and saving the fatty in the emergency exit row for when our own fat reserves start to dwindle’.
‘But Jo, its only been six hours since we crashed!’
‘Well, lets be prepared for a worst case scenario, also let’s search the wreckage for condiments again’.
Our common goal was to survive – but what we lacked was food. We had long since run out of the meagre pickings we’d found on the plane, and there was no vegetation or animal life to be found. After just a few days, we were feeling the sensation of our own bodies consuming themselves just to remain alive. Before long, we would become too weak to recover from starvation. We knew the answer, but it was too terrible to contemplate. The bodies of our friends and team-mates, preserved outside in the snow and ice, contained vital, life-giving protein that could help us survive. But could we do it? For a long time, we agonized. I went out in the snow and prayed to God for guidance. Without His consent, I felt I would be violating the memory of my friends; that I would be stealing their souls. We wondered whether we were going mad even to contemplate such a thing. Had we turned into brute savages? Or was this the only sane thing to do? Truly, we were pushing the limits of our fear. – Roberto Canessa, survivor of flight 571
If you’ve ever read the ‘His Dark Materials’ series, Lorek Byrinson (the great big bloody bear, maybe you’ve seen the movie) befriends a character named Lee Scoresby. They bond over a common enemy (as one does), and eventually become really good friends. Lee is eventually killed in battle and as a sign of friendship and respect, Lorek devours the remains of Lee’s body, so that the two of them can be together forever.
Which is quite a nice tribute I thought.
Although… I don’t think I’d want to eat any of my friends. Not unless I was starving on a mountain-top (and then I’d probably draw the line at genitalia… and maybe eating their face… which I would rather stretch over a basketball and then have deep, albeit it one sided, philosophical conversations with… you know, to pass the time).
I appreciate that this is obviously a two way street. If I’m dead… I really don’t care what happens to me. I don’t mind if y’all wanna eat me. In tribute and/or for survival. I feel I have great hams and very decent calves. Probably quite a good liver too, since I hardly ever drink anymore. Maybe start there. Also if you’re gonna use my head for a prop in a soliloquy, just remember that I will likely have a contrarian position… and if asked will probably be difficult and intractable in my opinions and commentary. (I’d like to be role-played correctly)
I was a Boy scout in my formative years (of the Baden Powell variety) an experience, I must be honest I am quite thankful for. Of course, now they let girls in, and have been outed as Nazi-sympathizers and child abusers. Ha ha, so everything has gone to hell. But… late 80’s + early 90’s ftw.
In any event, ethically speaking, its better to eat the animal that wants to be eaten. Be that a talking cow… or your know, someone who gives you approval in their blog-post to, once they are firmly deceased I mean, open up the buffet table on their personage.
In the meantime, since animals (still after all this time) stubbornly refuse to speak, I’ll just… eh… let the outsourced murder apparatus do it thing. And you know… not think about it too much.