This week's New Yorker has an article about a new coffee-table book by photographer Melanie Dunea, called My Last Supper . The book features fifty of the world's greatest cooks, all answering the musical question, "If you were to die tomorrow, what dish would you choose as your last?"
The answers were, as was to be expected, typically top chef: duck, caviar, and foie gras all rate mentions.
Bleh, I say unto thee. That stuff is all too highbrow in the way of feast fare for me. Personally, I don't know what the f--er, foie, gras is.
If I were aware that my next meal were to be my last, and that I was being given the privilege to choose whatever I wanted, from any period in time, rest assured, I'd choose carefully. And I think that, mental sentimentalist that I am, I'd make my selections based not only upon food that had a specific delicious taste, but even more so, a specific cozy memory.
I'd start off my meal with hot and sour soup from Ruby Foo's, washed down with a cold cosmopolitan or two (but did any of you seriously doubt that one?) I'd also try to work in a few dozen olives of all shape and sizes (to satisfy the Greek in me), as well as a few luscious slices of cheese.
For dinner, I'd have baked stuffed shrimp, coated in Ritz crackers, the kind that mom used to make for my father, when I was a kid. Every so often, on a Friday night, Mom would cook dinner for Dad after the kids went to bed, and invariably, there would be a few shrimp left over. Being the oldest, I was called out of bed, and allowed to sit at the grown-ups table, to eat what was left. I'm not sure if it was the late night thrill or the knowledge that I was getting something the other kids weren't, but they tasted better to me than anything else in the world.
I'd probably also have some Maine lobster, as well. Lobster always brings back memories of father's days with my dad stretching back over thirty years. And, it tastes good in your beard, even hours after you've eaten.
To go along with the seafood, I'd pick au gratin potatoes and my mother's homemade broccolli casserole, staples of every Thanksgiving that I've ever had.
And for dessert...I think, strawberry cheesecake would top things off quite nicely, thank you very much. There's just something so soothing about cheesecake. I think I could even face certain death knowing I had some in my belly.
But I'd want one more thing, besides all this. One more special request.
I'd probably have to clear it with the big guy, I suppose. But it'd be worth it, if I could wrangle a special clearance.
More than anything, a few hours later, in the twilight of my life, I'd like to enjoy one last twilight snack.
And I'd want to eat it somewhere special, too. Down in my grandmother's living room, sitting on that naughahyde couch of hers. Nana sitting beside me, clinking her crochet needles as she worked away on an afghan.
Lord, give me one last cup of tea with her, filled with milk and sugar; with just a few slices of toast, covered with peanut butter, okay? I'd give up everything else for that.
She's got to be up there, working away in heaven's kitchen. Wherever I end up going, whatever journey I'm on, can't I just have one more for the road, with my Nana?
Then, I think, I could truly die a happy man.