This is great and rather sad at the same time.
You have to feel for the citizens of Lastown. They’re hard-working. They mean well. But they’re always a step behind the times.
Take their current debate on food trucks. Every city in the world has food trucks. They’ve become a symbol of cool, sophisticated urban living. Civilization did not crumble in places that adopted food trucks. But Lastown officials are agonizing — agonizing — about allowing them in their fair city.
This gastronomic soul-searching should not be surprising. Even lowly hotdog carts were once forbidden in Lastown. They were regarded with suspicion — alien contraptions you could see only in movies set in New York City.
But times changed, eventually. People were travelling more and seeing how other people lived in more modern towns. They returned home and politely requested that hotdog carts be allowed in Lastown after all. To everyone’s surprise, city officials gave in.
Eating food outside, cooked by someone you didn’t know, was an incredible novelty — practically an illicit thrill — for Lastowners. They kind of liked the “big city” feeling, and lined up at the few hotdog carts they could find on a few street corners for a few weeks during the city’s short summer.
But in order to avoid culinary chaos breaking out downtown, city officials made sure that hot dogs and sausages were the only things available from the food carts. Fresh meat was banned in favour of safely salted and heavily nitrated tubes of delicious deboned meat byproducts. You never saw hamburgers on a Lastown food cart, no, no. In addition to being a tad fancy, hamburgers were almost certain to be a source of food-borne illness. Lastown’s city fathers made sure their children would never get sick from a sidewalk patty.
Twenty hotdog summers came. Wiener, ketchup, relish. Sausage, bun, mustard. Onion, peppers, pop. And 20 hotdog summers went. Wiener, ketchup, relish. Sausage, bun, mustard. Onion, peppers, pop. Lastown street eaters got used to the numbing routine of the limited menu.
Life went on. Lastowners lived their dry-ribs and deep-fried-spring-rolls lives. But one day, a downtown restaurant put tables and chairs on the sidewalk in front of its establishment. You should have heard the commotion.
“It’s like we’re Paris or something!” longtime Lastowners marvelled.
It’s funny how change triggers change. Lastown was starting to look so European that only a decade or two later, an entrepreneur got the idea to rent bicycles to tourists. He asked Lastown city hall for permission to set up in a park beside a hotel. The idea was frowned upon. What if other businesses demanded the same consideration, renting or selling things that customers wanted? Pretty soon the park would be full of people, you know, doing stuff. The bike rental idea was sent back for further study.
Wiener, ketchup, relish. Sausage, bun, mustard. Onion, peppers, pop.
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