by Greg Miller

We crashed in Cyrus’ kitchen the night before the Taste of the World protest, and Charlie stayed in the van to make sure that no one would steal our gas masks or food. By the time we got up, Cyrus had already eaten 6 or 7 microwave pancakes and Charlie had gone to the gas station to get some kind of chips in a bag. He refuses to eat anything that hasn’t been packaged and sealed. We’ve argued about it before. He claims a FDA conspiracy, as usual, which is a tough point to beat.

Brandy and I had Poptarts and split some kind of fake-Buddhist drink in a bright green bottle. I felt somewhat calmer from the ginkgo or whatever was in it, but Brandy was still a little jumpy. She was worried about getting arrested, because she was supposed to be back home on Sunday. Her grandparents were coming over for BBQ. I told her that I was a veteran of tree-sit buffets, direct action dinners, and monkeywrench brunches. There was always enough food, so there was no need to stress on future nutritional opportunities.

Somebody always brought vegan stew, at least.

The sun was rising, so we got into our gear–fish gutter suits, waders, no-skid boots, Julia Child masks. Cyrus looked dapper in his chef’s hat. I packed my pockets with salted peanuts, and Brandy wrapped some peanut butter sandwiches in plastic (to protect them from hot sauce spray) and stuffed them in her backpack. We hopped in the van and drove as close to downtown as possible. Cyrus told us to park in the grocery store lot, because they never towed, and besides, that was the only place on the West Coast that sold Little Debbie snake cakes. I got three of butterscotch, which is my favorite. As we exited, I could hear the chanting and sirens from the other side of the hill. The streets were filled with people, screaming, singing, dancing and eating food from many nations. The cops were lined up in the middle of Madigan Street, all grim and fascist in their jackboots and face shields. They looked hungry, like they had been there all morning with nothing to eat. I saw some of them furtively eyeing the pizza place that was just on the other side of the police line, and doing a brisk single-slice business with the protesters, who screamed “Shame on you, pig” with strings of mozzarella cheese flapping from their chins. A barrage of half-eaten crusts flew overhead every once in a while, but the police were steady. I thought for a moment that this might not erupt as planned–maybe we could go get some lunch soon.

A cart wove through the crowd. Polish sausage. I ordered one onion, one kraut. Just as I was about to dig in, a brilliant idea to break things open occurred to me. This was definitely going to get my picture in Revolutionary Gourmet. I pushed to the front of the throng, and broke into the patch of clear space that divided us from the Man. I carefully laid the sausages down on a napkin and backed away. I could feel the tension rising. The cops began to whack their nightsticks on the ground. They were high-test riot gear-the kind with the meat tenderizer at the end. It sounded like the rumble of a huge, empty stomach. Then the first clouds of Dijon gas swept our way.

We hustled around the corner with the cops on our heels. This was exhilarating. I had never felt so alive, or so hungry before. I stuck my hand under my mask and swallowed a handful of nuts, and headed to 3rd and Pyle, where there was a good pirogue place. My luck, it was closed, so I had to get a falafel and a soda from next door. Concussion grenades rang over head, showering me with jawbreakers. Christ, I didn’t want to get caught. I heard they threw you in a holding pen with nothing to eat but Clamato and Cream of Wheat. I threw my root beer bottle at the Olive Garden window on my way to the outdoor fresh produce market. It bounced off harmlessly.

The Market was famous for their fish and chips, so I bought two, one to eat and one to toss when the riot squad got there. We took up positions at the entrance. Some guy I knew vaguely from the AYCE (All-You-Can-Eat)affinity group in Oregon had bought a bushel of Fuji apples, and was busy digging holes in them for fuses. They were hardcore down there, even though half of them were Culinary Institute grads and way too into recipes.

An armored assault vehicle swung around the corner, scattering tourists and shaking us up a little. But we had no fear. Some hippie with a megaphone and a handful of sharpened wheat thins started yelling for everyone to get back. I reached in my bag for the ziploc of soup. My secret weapon– extra garlicky. I winked at Brandy, who was crouched next to a dried fruit cart, weaving strips of flattened dates into a slingshot. Just as I was about to let it fly, I felt a tremendous meaty pain in my chest. A pot roast gun. Those Nazis! I dropped to my knees. Right before I passed out, I saw a fire truck pull up behind the cops, and unroll their hoses. That could only mean one thing.

Gravy. Bastards! I managed to shout “Au Gratin to the People!” before everything went a rich, creamy brown.