Sans-Mutagen

“Good evening and welcome to Soufflé on the Bronx. My name is Evan and I’ll be your server tonight. Could I start you out with an Ecto Cooler Mojito or a Hunts’ Bloody Mary?”

“No, I think I’ll just have water for now, thank you.”

“Very good. Would you care to hear tonight’s specials, sir?”

“Actually, I’m here to write a review of this restaurant for the Times. Apparently you make a phenomenal soupe aux pois? I’d love to start out with a bowl, Evan.”

“Certainly, I’ll put that right in for you. I am required to inform you that our soupe aux pois, while typically made with ham and peas, will not contain any actual ham or peas this evening. Would you like to order dinner now, or would you like to look over the menu a bit?”

“Wait, what was that?”

“I said you can order dinner now or I can give you a few minutes…”

“No, what was that about the soupe aux pois not containing any ham or peas?”

“Oh, that. I was just saying the soupe aux pois contains neither ham nor peas.”

“And how is that possible?”

“Well sir, we actually prepare our ham and pea soupe aux pois with a tasty pea-like compound and a savory, slow-cooked ham substitute. Just between you and me, I actually think it tastes better than real soupe aux pois.”

“And from what, pray tell, is the soupe aux pois actually made?”

“You know, our specials tonight are really quite…”

“Young man! If I am not told what this soupe aux pois is made out of then I will be forced to contact the District Health Inspector.”

“All right! All right! Please, sir, keep your voice down! The truth is… it’s actually turtle soup.”

“Really! Well, what’s wrong with that? I’m quite fond of turtle soup, actually.”

“Not all of our customers are as cultured or open-minded as you, sir. We were afraid that if people knew the secret ingredient, no one would try it.”

“Oh, well I suppose I can understand that. Still, I’m interested in having some.”

“Excellent. I’ll be right back with a bowl.”

“Great. Oh, and by the way, what’s the ham been replaced with?”

“Hmm?”

“The ham. Earlier, you mentioned something about a ‘ham substitute’.”

“Oh, yes, the ham. Well, I’ll be right back with your ham and pea…”

“Waiter! Get back here! Come on, out with it!”

“…warthog.”

“…I’m sorry. Did you just say ‘warthog’?”

“Freshly butchered East African warthog, flown in live this morning from Tanzania.”

“Why, I don’t believe I’ve ever tasted warthog before. How is it?”

“Exquisite, sir. Though I will have to ask that you keep this to yourself.”

“Yes, of course.”

“Is there anything else you’d like to know about the soupe aux pois, sir?”

“No, no. I’m fine. Although I am in the mood for a nice steak tonight. What do you recommend?”

“The top sirloin. Best in the city. No doubt about it.”

“Sounds great, Evan. I doubt you’re substituting cow tonight as well, ha ha!”

“Ummm…”

“What? Your steak isn’t made of cow?”

“Not exactly, sir. It’s… rhinoceros.”

“Good god, man! You’re serving these people an endangered species! Is that even legal?”

“It is if it’s dead when you found it.”

“Evan?”

“Yes, sir?”

“Is it any coincidence that the Bronx Zoo is a block north of here?”

Sans Mutagen at SPLITREASON