The last supper
What would yours be?
SSome of us, granted, think about it more than others, and while I have never dwelled too much on my demise-like anyone else I would rather it be much, much later rather than sooner-the fact remains that we should never rest on our laurels, because apart from income tax, death is the only other certainty. And though many of us will dodge the dubious honour of being privy to the proverbial last meal, there are some of us who won't, which beggars the question, incarceration or not, on the penultimate day of your life, if you knew that death was waiting in the wings, what would your last meal on earth be?
Lawrence Russell Brewer ordered a gargantuan meal that included two chicken-fried steaks, a triple patty bacon cheeseburger, one pound of barbecued meat, and a meat lover's pizza, and then elected not to eat it.
If you are unfortunate enough to be a check-in-only guest of the Malaysian government, then the question of a lavish last meal is moot since your meal budget has been set at a sum not exceeding RM7.50, which won't even suffice for a cheese burger and fries, traditionally the final meal of choice amongst inmates on death row. American prisoners, untrammelled by budget constraints, have had a tendency towards perverse choices: condemned Texan Lawrence Russell Brewer ordered a gargantuan meal that included two chicken-fried steaks, a triple patty bacon cheeseburger, one pound of barbecued meat, and a meat lover's pizza, and then elected not to eat it. That in turn sullied the pond for other prisoners because it led to the abolition of special last meal requests in Texas. Holocaust genocide mastermind Adolf Eichmann eschewed food in favour of a bottle of Israeli wine, which does lead one to wonder whether he was making the ultimate ironic gesture.
If however you are fortunate enough not to be behind bars, then 'last meals' can get quite extravagant. Five-time best restaurant winner El Bulli wound up its final season with a resounding bang, serving diners a 40+ course dinner that encompassed pistachio ravioli with mimetic peanuts, oyster and bone marrow tartare, and Parmesan frozen air. And it goes beyond restaurants. Chefs have been playing 'my last supper' since Jesus was a boy, and in the book of the same title by Melanie Dunea, world class chefs like José Andrés detail their final meals on earth, often in mouthwatering detail, and they are unfailingly irresistible. His would be the recreation of a barbecue he once experienced at an old mill in Tazones, a village in northern Spain, at which there would be warm tortillas, potato omelettes, piles of percebes, llampares and centollos, (gooseneck barnacles, snail-like molluscs, and giant spider crabs respectively).
Juan Mari Arzak in turn details his last meal as including ortolan or becada-for their forbidden fruit novelty-a flower of egg, and tartufo in goose fat with chorizo and dates. Gordon Ramsay's choice of a classic roast dinner with Yorkshire pudding and red wine gravy may ooze comfort but it's disappointingly pedestrian. Call me greedy, but neither a little warbler nor a slab of roast beef seems adequate enough a gastronomic sendoff for so momentous an occasion.
Stomach space wasted on bad food is a travesty that should be punishable by starvation
Most of us in reality will not know when it's our turn to go gently into the good night, and in that respect it is my unwavering belief that we should always dine as if it's our last meal on earth. Stomach space wasted on bad food is a travesty that should be punishable by starvation, ergo if I have the luxury of picking my last meal, I would make sure it's a feast that would accommodate all my culinary desires.
To that end, I will be feasting on a meal that will include a sea urchin cappellini (easy on the pasta, don't hold back on the uni!), panfried foie gras, lashings of truffles on the fluffiest omelette conceivable, the best tonkatsu ramen money can buy, the har meen of my childhood, kway teow th'ng from Soon Yuen in Penang, and crispy vegetarian goose from my favourite vegetarian restaurant. The list keeps morphing-the only constant is change, remember?-but it is certain that come my time, I may foil lady death and actually die from overeating, but it will be with a huge oleaginous grin on my face, and in the final reckoning, that's as much as anyone can hope for. Care to take a page from my book?
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