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The Restaurant at the start of Time


This place doesn\’t need a restaurant review, of course. I mean, who wouldn\’t want to go and try trilobite thermidor and iguanadon a l\’orange? Finding it is tricky, though. You have to be interviewed, you have to pass tests – what\’s the melting point of chocolate, what\’s the relationship between mayonnaise and expensive miracle face creams etc. Basic stuff. The interview is more difficult, you really have to prove your foodiness, your discernment, your adventurousness, the sheer je ne sais pas of your palate. Suffice it to say that I passed. This blog also paid for the meal, as always, in good sound icredits and quite a lot of them.
One year ago, a consortium of icredit-billionaire chefs got together to resurrect the Large Hadron Collider (killed stone dead by the success of Patil\’s Tripartite Field Theory, along with a number of expensive fusion no-hopers). One of their number – and you know which one – had taken another look at the formulae and reckoned it ought to be possible to go on a fishing expedition into the past. Literally. The thing was, Heston wanted to try trilobite.
Trilobites, by the way, were fantastically common during the Permian era. Over 250 million years ago, the sea absolutely swarmed with them. They looked like giant woodlice, their nearest relatives are the untasty horseshoe crab and he reckoned it was worth a punt. The Large Hadron Collider, for reasons I\’m afraid I just don\’t understand, was thought to be the ideal fishing rod.
So they bought it for just one icredit, paid a few impoverished physics grads to make some alterations, fired it up, took a wild guess – and brought back a metre long Ediacaran predator with a mouth like a rotary saw. It took a bit of killing too and nobody has ever properly worked out what happened to one of the kitchen porters. And it tasted like jellyfish, only worse. The next time they were more careful and netted about ten fifty centimetre trilobites.
The race was on to find a way of cooking them – only the thing turned out to be almost insultingly easy. Treat \’em like lobster and what you\’ve got is what lobster would taste like in heaven, especially if doused in garlic butter.
On the strength of their grilled trilobite, the restaurant opened and pulled in icredit billionaires like… well, like the trilobites they were landing with each run of the modified collider. A couple more physics grads turned up, a couple more modifications and the first tyrannosaurus meat was also on sale. That was a bit of a disappointment, to be honest. Not as good as ostrich meat, very dark and gamey and with a pong of high explosives from the anti-tank missiles you need to kill the bastards.
But iguanadon – now you\’re talking. Like the best, the very tenderest beef. Or the extraordinary oceanic reptiles – the plesiosaur, for instance, for bigger and better turtle soup. Or some of the fish: people were selling their mothers just to go to the restaurant. You need to book now to get a seat next decade, frankly.
I\’m here to lay some rumours to rest. \”We only fish on the edge of mass extinctions,\” Gordon explains, \”It\’s a f***ing lie to say we might cause them, because they\’ve already happened, haven\’t they? So why not eat the trilobites, they\’re only going down anyway.\”
\”Absolutely right,\” I murmer, having just tasted trilobite with garlic butter, just one segment but more meat on it than an entire lobster used to have, and what meat. God, I\’m dribbling just thinking about it.
\”And it\’s more b****s to say that Marco and Jamie are teaming up to build their own Collider to get their own supplies,\” adds Gordon who has a slightly wild-eyed look about him.
\”Is it?\” I murmer, wondering if maybe I could get a booking there. What would be the wonder of a pukka trilobite?
\”You can buy some of the calcite trilobite eye lenses,\” Gordon adds, \”As a souvenir, we\’ve got too many of them.\”
\”So there\’s no chance we might be the cause of the mass extinctions of past history?\” I ask diffidently.
The PR girl arrives quickly enough to save me, but in fact, the answer, is of course, no. We didn\’t. Haven\’t. Won\’t. Etc.
I asked the PR girl about another rumour. Her face snaps tight shut. \”Absolutely not,\” she says, \”It\’s not true that five trilobites managed to get away from the kitchen and out into the sea and it\’s also not true that three of them had egg-coral on their undersides. Absolutely not. No such thing. There have never been any escapes at all.\”
I leave, fully reassured though with another question unanswered. How on earth can they claim to have Jurassic honey when honeybees didn\’t evolve until about ten million years ago?

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