! Four bombastic food critics sitting around a table at L'Étranger, flagship restaurant of notorious perfectionist Wolfgang Fuko, winner of four International Tournaments of Champions on Iron Chef (Original Version, Japan).
The decor? Obsessive, naturally. Chef Fuko requires that every cubic centimetre of his space conform to exacting standards; any centimetre would be foolish to disobey him. Each of sixteen tables occupies a position equidistant from every other, those on the outermost layer the same distance from every wall, with every surface as high up off the ground as all others. Light scarcely allowed to enter the establishment, windows non-existent, illumination only from a white paraffin candle placed at table's centre. Diners may see their own dish clearly, the dishes of their table-mates vaguely. Nothing visible beyond that. Somewhere in outer darkness, a single musician plays, circulating along predetermined paths throughout the night. This evening: Sonatas and partitas for solo violin (Bach, BWV 1001-1006).
Menu? One arrives at L'Étranger when one's reservation indicates and one eats what one is served. No orders, no special requests. No substitutions. Peanut allergies, dine elsewhere. Vegetarians, may God have mercy on your soul. Each day sees a different meal, never the same meal twice, but one can be assured that on any given night one will be served what is served to every other seated patron. This is the policy, the promise, of L'Étranger.
Only the reclusive Chef himself has ever borne witness to the kitchen, but if one were to see it, one would inevitably notice, at eye-level adjacent to the door to a sort of antechamber leading to the dining area, a rectangular absence where the restaurant's first review, printed in the city's most trusted broadsheet upon the event of L'Étranger's understatedly grand opening, has deliberately not been affixed to the wall. Not being there, the page serves as a constant reminder. Headline that day? CHEF WOLFGANG FUKO: GENIUS, MADMAN.
Having sufficiently sampled this evening's offering, Food Critics A through D (look at them, aren't they cute?) regale themselves with descriptions both typical and baffling.
Beginning at carbunkular cheeks and moving down to wiry whiskers' end only to start all over again, Critic A compulsively strokes his greying beard, opining: “This dish exemplifies shameless exploitation of the working class by the rapacious machinery of Global Capitalism. By attributing the privilege of Authorship solely to the “Chef,” the establishment denies its own political economic ramifications, as if the meal were not the pure physical expression of victimization, slavery, and genocide; from the South American labourers whose suffering and sweat grew and harvested the ingredients to the dishwashers and busboys (all visible minorities) who are forcibly concealed from consumers and required to work for criminally low wages, the entire operation is designed to appeal to the petite bourgeoisie whose false consciousness compels them to consume (in the most literal sense) the products of exploitation in order to further the reactionary agenda of the Culture System. Also: there is no God.”
Critic B adjusts his glasses and the checkered keffiyeh (clandestinely purchased at hipster emporium Urban Outfitters eighteen months previous; everyone shops there, but no one would be caught dead actually shopping there) around his pale European neck; he professes: “The dish is typical of the machinations of American/Zionist Imperialism; the Franco-Japanese motif symbolizes the self-assured superiority (“Manifest Destiny”) of the Occident and its insistence on subsuming and co-opting any and all exploitable elements of competing cultures in order to fuel its ongoing dominance by appearing superficially to be inclusive of the Ethno-Cultural Other (the Chef as “Uncle Tom” figure). The French and Japanese themselves being former colonial powers “liberated” (that is to say, violently overthrown) by the American/Zionist Military-Industrial-Corporate Complex, ostensibly in defense of so-called “democratic values” but in truth simply further exerting hypernationalist and neoliberal ideology upon the most radical examples of resistance to Twentieth Century Economic/Racial (Anglo-Jewish) hegemony. Also: there is no God, but if there were it would be Allah and Mohammed would be His prophet.”
Critic C tilts back the brim of her hat, tightens her necktie and shrieks: “The utter and complete misogyny inherent in this meal should cause anyone with a semblance of humanity to want to vomit in outrage. The evacuation of femininity and phallocentricizing of domesticity runs rampant in excision of any vestige of the muliebral vis-à-vis the (male, of course) Chef, celebrated for preparation of food, masculinizing one of the only creative pursuits commonly permitted to females in society, essentially removing it from the sphere of occupations available to women who wish to establish economic and gender independence outside the boundaries of the deeply heterosexist public/private dichotomy asserted by the Patriarchy for all of recorded history, a form of crypto-rape, a sort of female castration. It makes me sick. Also: there is no God, but if there were She would be a Woman.”
Several seconds follow in which solely audible is the sound of Bach (at this point having reached the end of Partita No 3 in E Major) hovering in darkness somewhere beyond our four critics' table.
Critic D speaks: “This is a telephone smothered in mayonnaise. And there is no God.”
Suddenly: Earth quakes. Critics all die instantly.
 Fuko's triumphant dishes, in chronological order: Lemon Salmon Tartare; Mesquite Grilled Avocado and Foie Gras Makizushi; Elk-fried Tofu Taquitos Parmesan; Potato and Frogs Legs Lasagna Chowder on amaranth toast.