If you knew you would die tomorrow, what would be your last meal, food, drink, setting ?
When I knew the end was very near, I'd gather my closest friends around a table, and have a phenomenal dinner party, course after course, with the finest of wines paired to each course. My friends and I would share this orgiastic feast, share in the joy of each other, say our goodnights, and then -- my dying body overly taxed by the feast -- I'd slip away in my sleep, my dearest love next to me. Or, at least, that's how I'd like to go.
This is something of the way Mitterand, the former President of France, died. I never forgot this article in Esquire about Mitterand's Last Meal:
I'd do something similar, a little more international in terms of food (and no ortolan).
I recently had the opportunity to sit with Andrew Zimmern as his crew shot a sequence for an upcoming Bizarre Foods America episode at Peter Chang's China Grill in Richmond Va; it will be broadcast soon (that is me in the pink shirt, if I don't end up on the cutting room floor). Anyway, the subject turned to how good Chang's is, and I commented I had recently had the good fortune to dine at Alinea, and it is great, but if I had to choose between that and Chang for my last meal, I'd probably go with Chang. Zimmern wasn't convinced (he recently did Alinea for his Chicago show and really thinks Achatz is the likely best chef in America), but he agreed I had a point. It was an interesting discussion; I now have an autographed plate on my wall from him with the inscription "Next time, Alinea".
Ideally it would be like one of the Sunday diners of my youth. I would wake up early and start making the gravy, my grandmother’s meat balls, good sausage and pork brociole.
I would roll out the sheets of pasta and start dropping some balls of seasoned ricotta cheese into what will become ravioli’s. Pound and bread some chicken breasts to be fried later, ah what the hell some nice veal too. Invite all my friends and family over for the traditional Sunday feast. Someone will bring bread and fresh mozzarella from Brooklyn and we will drink cheap wine from gallon jugs. My mom and her brothers will tell the stories of growing up in Newark NJ, my father will tell the grandchildren of his time(s) as a Newark Police Officer, and I will cook and serve my family as I have done so many times over the years.
As the day grows long and the sun begins to set, the sun of my life falls below the horizon, and my time here grows to an end, I would have one last request. I would ask that for my last hour alive I get to spend that with my dear mother in law, because that my friends would be the loooooooooongest hour of my life. :-)
That, my friend, sounds mighty fine. If it's cool, I can stop by, drink some of that sweet, jug wine, eat a lot of that terrific chow, talk to some of your kin in my inimitable manner, and, most importantly, secretly record those last moments with the MIL. Afterwords, I'll send the video to her. I've got a feeling your last laugh might be knowing that the old lady will have to watch that 'four hundred and thirty-five minute' hour again?
Hat's off, old man.
Well, how long can I drag it out? I'd like to order a couple of Maine lobster tails, some Alaska king crab, some durian, a ribeye steak, season-perfect peaches, cherries, blackberries, and raspberries, tomatoes, harvest-ready chiles, some awesome blue cheese, a bunch of fried eggs done perfectly, mashed potatoes, Pepperidge Farms dressing with dried cherries, some pumpkin pie, Gren tea ice cream, some pistachios, and a whole lot of things I can't think of right now.
This sounds super corny I think but I would have 2 options
At home with my parents Southern Sunday Breakfast with my family ( Grits, fried eggs, pancakes, bacon, coffee cake, sweet tea, yes sweet tea for breakfast)
and given the time of year
I'd say friends and family gathered together for the Epcot Food and Wine Fest. My dad has worked for Disney for 34 years and this has always been a tradition.
Strangely enough the food and drink would probably the least important but the people around me and the setting would be paramount.
Let's get my closest family and friends together on a nice Hallberg-Rassy 64 and plop is the Seychelles or Phuket bay or Symi or . . . . . . Somewhere where we can bask in the beauty of the planet and the beauty of the memories of a life.
Is this a fantasy scenario (where local availability and logistics don't apply)? If so:
Setting: A west facing beach in Tahiti (any island will do) so I can watch the sunset (I am checking out at sunset, aren't I?) with me fading away with the last of the twilight.
Food: (in no particular order; imagine if you will, the world's most perfect lazy Susan):
A fresh- out-of-the-water Maine lobster
A bowl of my homemade Chex Mix
A plate of raw beef tenderloin drizzled with newly pressed olive oil
Seared foie gras
My Mom's Thanksgiving turkey stuffing
Mussels in garlic/wine butter
A piece of ABC store Spam musubi
My Grandmother's homemade sour cherry Hungarian strudel
Drink: My body does not tolerate alcohol well, so Iced Fuji water and Mexican Coca Cola.
Misc: A deluxe beach chair, a pack of Eve Menthol Lights and a really nice lighter and ashtray (no plastic need apply).
Company: None; I'm goin' out alone.
Actually, Fuji Water is a very old brand of mineral water in Japan, said to some from a spring near Mt. Fuji. It comes in returnable glass bottles in a plastic case of 24. I haven't seen it in Tokyo in years and wonder if they are still in business. An Internet search turns up nothing...
The venue would have to be my local pub. One for the few South London boozers that hasn't fallen prey to the gastro pub and baby buggy mania.Obviously I couldn't get any of this food there as all there is, is pork scratchings and ham rolls of dubious age wrapped in cling film.
Menu as follows
Amuse bouche: Scotch egg with a pint of Tribute
Starter: Duck heart salad with a Pinot Noir
Fish: Pulpo a la Galga with a glass of Albarino
Main: Steak and kidney pudding with a pint of Timothy Taylors Landlord
Dessert: Plum crumble with custard and a glass of single varietal cider.
Cheese : Various cheeses and pickles and chutneys. Must include Keens Cheddar, Stichelton and Bermondsey Spa and also Mostarda as one of the pickles. Very old vintage port to go with it
Bottle of Laphroig 18 yr old for after dinner. Also a packet of full strength Gitanes for throughout the evening.
Failing that just give me great fish and chips from the newspaper on Bridlington sea front and a flask of tea.
I posted this in another discussion on last meal and $50:
I immediately thought Katz's Pastrami sammich on rye, vanilla egg cream and Junior's strawberry cheese pie.
On second thought: I'd take my old Brooklyn sweetie Gina out for a lobster dinner. $50 would cover her dinner. I'd watch her eat while I have a cup of coffee.
After a lobster dinner Gina was mine for the night!!
What a way to go!!
Starters, put the ball on the tee: A few bottles of different Reposados, a healthy bag of weed, a pack or two of Camel Filters, and a cooler full of iced down, cheap, nearly tasteless, canned beers - Piels, Coors, Schaeffer, etc. (No PBR though as a final sign of indignant, fruitless, meaningless protest.). Way I see it, at a last meal, I want "POP!" not "pairings" - "SLUGS" not "sips".
I similarly think it important to have "loved ones" around. Mrs. Z, and maybe a relative or two, but mostly friends - good time friends. The kinda friends who wanna talk about the time you tried to cannonball from the bed of your truck into the neighbor's hot tub - "Dude, there was so much blood." The kinda friends who shut up when your wife approaches, even though they're only discussing the weather. The kinda friends who bring their own booze and tune their own guitars!
Certainly, not the people in your life who might share some lame-ass story about how cute you were at your First Communion or the time you wore parachute pants to the second day of your Sophomore year. Oh, and, definitely not anyone you have slept with and are not presently married to - no one need to hear some teary-eyed soul plead, "I always loved you SOOOO much" the night before they die, particularly with their spouse within earshot.
As to food, I think that should be a thing of whim. I'll call someone to bring me an Indian spread from Iselin - "Rent a fuckin' truck if you have to . . ."
Another to get a sacka White Rose burgers. "Yeah, man, sure, call your Sister after she gets outta church. She's invited. Just tell her to ask the guys at the counter for the 'Highland Park PD Picnic Package'."
Later, you realize, "You know what else, we need. We gotta send for that old lady from South River who makes those righteous pierogis and tell her to "move them arthritic fingers like she's still only seventy-five".
Hell, I'd just keep going. "OK, guys, let's grab some rebar and use it as sticks to "campfire roast" whole logs of Pork Roll like they're hot dogs, while we wait for the Dim Sum to arrive."
One buddy starts chanting, "PORK ROLL FIRESIDE TASTE TEST!!!! PORK ROLL FIRESIDE TASTE TEST!!!! PORK ROLL FIRESIDE TASTE TEST!!!!" as he stops trying to figure out how to make a bong out of the brand new, Tommy Bahama shirt his wife made him wear and starts jumping up and down.
Two hours later, wiping that wonderful, gold distillate of agave from my lips, I announce, "More food, Gargoyle!" and slap my hands together. "Honey, you want anything on your pizza?"
Since, I'm kinda partial to the foods that are my true kin, in my blood, and the place that has always been my mental home, I spose I'd set this whole thing on the beach I learned to surf at - the beach I always came home to. It's less than a half mile walk from my house, the cops are cool with locals about the noise, my "guests" can sleep there if need be when they pass out, and any of us can get some Atlantic salt on our tongues and in our nostrils all party long.
Moreover, Mrs. Z knows that just outside the North Jetty is where I want my ashes spread - maybe, if someone can scrounge up a cheap case of tequila before sunrise, I'll even help build the pyre and pour that Blanco on it. Go out for real (not like those dreams I have where the Governor calls and apologizes 'cause he had the "wrong number"). How cool would "Here, Man, use the lighter you gave me" be for your last words?
At bottom, shouldn't a last meal be a last party?
Reminds my of the orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally, I wanna say "I'll have what he's ^ having!", although the weed'll likely get me all paranoid while beach sand grits my teeth....
Anthony Bourdain gave me a book called My Last Supper - 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals
These folks answer last meal, the setting, drinks, music, companions, and who would prepare the meal.
I suspect that I would be too upset to eat. Or, perhaps, too unwell.
But, to play along, the actual content of the meal would be unimportant. Eating it with my loved ones would be.
Interesting thought, though - after all these years on the wagon (and as a non-smoker), would I want a glass of wine with the food. And a Calvados and a couple of cigarettes wioth the after dinner coffee.