It had been a long afternoon of sight-seeing, and it was a relief as Tom took his first bite. His mouth filled with the juicy textures of onions, pickles, tomatoes, beef and mayo, all combining to create delightful new flavours. And then the hit of chilli from what must have been the secret sauce crowned the experience. This burger is a masterpiece, he thought, matching any he had seen in the gallery earlier.
"Dad, what's that?"
Tom looked across the table at Eli. She had deconstructed her burger and was staring at the circle of plain beef on her plate. "What's what?"
"That darker bit. Is it okay to eat?"
"Of course. It's well done, that's all. You complain if it's a bit red inside." He showed her the inside of his burger. "Like this."
She grimaced. "Disgusting! You may as well bite into a live animal!"
Tom frowned and took another bite. He savoured the flavours once again, noticing a more peppery taste this time. "If you're fussy like this when you grow up you'll miss out. Don't examine every tiny blemish thinking it's something deadly."
"It might be!"
"It almost certainly won't be."
Eli screamed. "It moved!"
Tom closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath. "What now?"
She was pointing at the burger. "Something's crawling out of it!"
He looked. She was right. A fat black beetle, about two centimetres long, was pulling itself out of the meat.
Eli got to her feet and stepped back, her chair scraping noisily on the tiled floor. She was gagging and covering her mouth.
The beetle scuttled off the burger and over the edge of the plate. Instinctively Tom brought his fist down, crushing it. Some of the beetle's innards squirted back onto the burger. He looked at Eli. She was motionless and staring wide-eyed at her food.
Tom felt he should say something positive. "Insects are high in protein. We'll all be eating them one day."