★ (1 star out of a possible 17)
Let’s start with Larry’s Steak and Seafood Restaurant in New York City. Or rather let’s have Larry’s Steak and Seafood stand in for all attempts by human beings to prepare food and serve it to the public.
As an eagle, I am troubled by the word “prepare,” as it signals a wrong turn in human culinary history. People speak of preparing food as if food needs preparing. It does not. It only needs finding and snatching.
With an understandable sense of superiority, then, I enter Larry’s and am greeted by an unshaven lad in skinny jeans who makes a show of his overly white smile. Rather than speak to me in a natural voice, he very nearly chirps at me in an attempt to appear happier than is normal for any mammal. “Mr. Eagle! Welcome to Larry’s. Your wingspan is so, it’s so wide and fantastically gorgeous, like, um, Big Bird but bigger. Ha! That’s 4 B’s. Wow, I’m lovin’ it!”
I raise a talon to acknowledge the young man but otherwise maintain a dignified reserve. The human habit—American habit?—of excessive familiarity is particularly unattractive to eagles, with our aloof and aristocratic bearing.
Instead of a table I ask for a perch and am pleased when the host points to a hanging plant, where in minutes I am settled comfortably with a “cocktail,” as the server calls it, though no cock’s tail is in sight. Below and to the left I do observe one patron eating a tasty-looking carcass of…grouse or muskrat? I could swoop down and steal it, but that’s a nasty habit we eagles must try to overcome.
Reading the menu up and down, front and back, I can hardly believe what I see, or rather do not see: the restaurant apparently does not serve live fish. “Then why have I come here?” I ask the waiter, who apologizes and informs me that people do not eat live fish. “In that case I’d like a dead or dying fish. Has anything washed up on shore today?” The server nods to the menu in my hand. “Ah, yes,” I say, glancing through it again. “Let me have the dead walleye.”
“Would you like that broiled or pan-fried, sir?” “Dead is fine.” “It’s of course dead, sir. I asked if you’d like it broiled or pan-fried.” “Oh you mean cooked—no, no need to cook it. I’d love it as is, the way you found it on shore.” “Sir, I didn’t find it on shore.” “You snatched it from the water then?” “It’s pole-caught, sir, if that’s what you mean.” “Very well, just don’t do anything to it—above all, do not cook it.” “I can’t do that, sir.” “Good, don’t.” “I mean I can’t serve the fish uncooked.”
Exasperated, I decide not to have fish. “What can you serve uncooked?” “Fruits and vegetables, sir.” “I don’t eat those. I eat uncooked protein—what do you have in that category?” “Beans, sir.” “I don’t eat those.” “Peanut butter?” “I don’t eat that. The chicken on the menu here sounds good.” “We don’t serve it uncooked, sir.” “Why not?” “Because people don’t eat raw chicken.” “Well, I’m an eagle and I do eat raw chicken.” “But raw chicken goes bad, sir.” “Eagles like it bad; we adore dead and decaying flesh of any kind: snake, turtle, duck, heron, rabbit, small pig, baby deer. It’s called carrion and it’s delicious. In fact, just thinking about it makes me hungry. Let me have carrion.”
By this time the manager has come over. “We don’t have carrion,” he says in a stern voice. “We have carry-out, and you’re going to have it.”