SAYING GOODBYE to food is a sad thing. From day one, we put it in our mouth, mush it around, chew it up, and swallow, finally sending it off on its magic little journey through our wrinkled GI tract until all the naughty parts leave us forever. Food does so many things to and for us; from sexual substitute to nervous habit, from dependable and silent friend to mood adjuster. And now, with this week's life-ending mayhem only hours away, goodbyes must be said.

Concerns about alarmist overreaction fade as news filters out about the imminent explosion of the Space Needle, the plan to sink three ferries, and the secret sabotage of our twin Lake Washington spans. All the glad-handing and grab-assing in the world can't change the truth: We're going down, baby, and heading to the mountains does nothing. Recent wire service stories about Russian renegades with nuclear arms aimed at survivalist hot spots in southern Oregon and northern Idaho make moot sthe notion of flight. The man arrested at the Canadian border wasn't coming here for the buffet, and we're already populated by U.S. citizens far more dangerous than any invisible foreigners.

The last day begins at Chinooks at Fisherman's Terminal, with their huge and hearty bowl of granola. Brimming with nuts, grains, and little dried fruit bits, the granola is complemented perfectly by scones studded with small pieces of orange. Rich in carbohydrates and fiber, such a robust starter lines the tummy with an absorbent and friendly layer. Just in case there's any truth to the ill-founded Dr. Atkins "protein is best" dietary advice, we proceed to Beth's on Aurora for bacon and eggs. The bacon here is pressed flat while cooking, resulting in crispy uniformity. The all-you-can-eat hash browns are fine if volume is your thing. On this day it's not our thing and we skip the hash browns and quickly scoot back to Vera's in Ballard for old-school 'browns, crunchy on the outside, soft and a little gooey inside. One of the nice things about breakfast at Vera's is the availability of a top-notch fruit plate, something difficult to find in other Ballard establishments. It's all about balance, and Vera's hash browns plus ample chunks of fresh pineapple equals nutritional symmetry.

After a two-hour nap in the car, it's off to Madison Valley for a squash Reuben at Cafe Flora. Generous slices of sautéed yellow squash provide a chewy consistency alarmingly akin to a normal Reuben's corned beef. The accompanying classic rye bread, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese, plus a pungent and aggressive Thousand Island-style sauce, make this terrific and humorous take on the old standard a joyous lunchable. Cafe Flora can be a little spendy, and scertainly the clientele have much too much free time, but this sandwich allows us to forgive and forget. Our imminent destruction is closing in, and even the idle rich can be overlooked in such a dire situation.

That same imminent destruction provides the perfect rationale for stopping just a stone's throw down Madison at Philadelphia Fevre for one final tussle with Rene Lefevre and her soft, squishy, and satisfying cheese steak sandwiches with mushrooms. Fears and regrets about the unfolding terror of the next few days melt away, as thick and cheesy vapors fill my snout. Once the sandwich is unleashed from its secretive wrapper, little else matters.

Another quick nap (this one in the elegant bushes of the Arboretum) spells refreshment as visions of an evening meal emerge. Perhaps a quick stop in the neighborhood to say goodbye to Rover's and their grotesque, super-fatted goose livers? No thanks. Instead, the car speeds past Rover's and onto the nearby 520 bridge, on the way to Bellevue's glorious Eating Factory. With fresh sushi, sashimi, unbeatable sides, and unusual salads, eating here is like a heavenly dream. Fresh fruit spills from large bowls, providing an ideal follow-up to the flesh-heavy sashimi and sushi.

With the clock ticking toward midnight, dessert beckons, and Fremont's Longshoreman's Daughter is the obvious choice with its Mounds of Joy melange of coconut ice cream and rich chocolate sauce. This full-frontal celebration of a historically inevitable combination serves as the perfect end to not only a full day of Seattle's finest food, but to a world about to be ironically destroyed by a technological slip-up of its own design.

Chinooks (Fisherman's Terminal, Salmon Bay, 283-HOOK)

Beth's (Aurora Avenue North at 73rd, 782-5588)

Vera's (5417 22nd Ave NW, 782-9966)

Cafe Flora (2901 E Madison, 325-9100)

Philadelphia Fevre (2332 E Madison, 323-1000)

Rover's (2808 E Madison, 325-7442)

Eating Factory (10630 NE Eighth St, 425-688-8202)

Longshoreman's Daughter (3510 Fremont Place N, 633-5169)

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