Friday, August 25


The Gourmet Government


Diamond-shaped emblem in a tropical setting representing frying pan heated over volcano, symbolic of the Island's Gourmet Government. Motto: "Non Nova, sed Nove"--"Not New Things, but New Ways."

[The blazoning is inaccurate by heraldic standards, but I'm quoting here].


"We have an unusual Constitution. It's sort of a Restaurant Government. There are twenty families on the Island, each running a restaurant. We made it a law here that every family shall go to a different restaurant every night of the month, around the village square in rotation. In this way, no family of Krakatoa has to work more than once every twenty days, and every family is assured a great variety of food." [...]

"That's reasonable," I remarked. "But tell me, how did each restaurant get to be so different? You have told me that all of the families come from San Francisco. From what I can see and hear of them, they all seem to be Americans, and yet their houses are as varied and international as the pavilions at a World's Fair."

"We are all Americans here. The international restaurants are built simply to give variety to our days. [...] We Americans all have different inherited tastes [...]. The A.'s run an American restaurant, and serve only real American cooking. You are now eating at the B.'s. This is a British chop house. The C.'s run a Chinese restaurant. The D.'s run a Dutch restaurant, the E.'s an Egyptian [...]."

"What a wonderful place this Island is!" I exclaimed.

~William Pène du Bois, The Twenty-One Balloons, 1949

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