My submission to the Answers.com Creative Writing Challenges (ending October 1, 2007).
The idea some assumed, was that literal ‘Salad Days’ would also have an figurative effect on the population. Returning everyone to a state where they had no experience with well prepared meals. It was in any case the best anyone in a place like this could do to explain the law. No one cared that the fast food chains had to change their menus. The big issue was, there were no allowances for good food, forcing them to gather in secret. The laws weren’t about eating right, they were about eating by a formula to maximise health.
They only had themselves to blame and they knew it. They’d let the health fanatics dictate the public diet one small law at a time until one day they found themselves looking at store shelves stocked with hardly anything worth eating. Sure they could all live forever now, but not everyone saw the merit in it. What was the point of life, many thought, when any simian could eat better than they could.
At one point the underground was vast, but as time went on, it became the dominion of those that could afford it or offer it protection. These were two things that did not limit it from being everywhere. There were even rumours of the royal family holding barbecues in the middle of Kew Gardens while listening to the opus of some great composer.
Like every prohibition before it, all manner of arguments were made as to why it was for the best. Some even went so far as to call the underground the fifth column of the enemy, designed to keep the nation unhealthy. In spite of the high rhetoric, punishments were still limited to “Health Re-Education Camps” — an experience all lived through but no one wanted to repeat.
The Camps were the main reason all were happy to walk into a room with a uniformed officer sitting at a table. If the officer was a sergeant or better, there was simply no point in worrying about a raid that night. It allowed everyone to sit back and fully enjoy their meal without fear of having to abscond in the middle of it. However it never failed to cause a wave of horripilation among the patrons when an officer walked in for dinner.
The fug that hung in the room did nothing to dampen the agog of those waiting for their order. Like the speakeasies these dining halls inherited their names from, some of the best entertainment in the world could be found within their walls. It was one of many reminders that in places like this, it was about enjoying one’s meal.
Like any other speakeasy the rules were few and far between. After all, everyone knew the only rule that counted was to not compromise its secrecy. There was, however, one rule everyone tried to honour at Speakeasy Seven. On nights like this the chef would make something special to do his best to comply with the law. If the Chef could try then so would they and it became the custom for all to try the salad night special. Gazpacho soup was that dish on this day. The chef’s logic was clear; it did, after all, have just enough vegetables to be called a salad.