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One of my favorite spontaneous questions to ask is, “You can pick anything, from anywhere in the world – what would your last meal be?” It takes people aback and it makes them think about the best taste or the best emotion that they have attached to food. I’ve found that people truly are divided into two camps – the ones who focus on tastes that struck them as orgasmic, and the ones who focus on sentimental foods that their mother made. Perhaps that’s partly dependent on how good a cook one’s mother was.
(bottom image courtesy of www.jgfreedman.com)
Now, for me, if I were on death row and they had to get me whatever I wanted, they’d need some notice, as they’d have to fly some dishes in. And I tell you, I’d be an absolute glutton.
My last meal would consist of (as a start):
Seared Ahi Tuna appetizer from the Blue Crab Lounge in Chicago
Soft Shell Crab Sandwich from the Crab Pot in Surf City, NC
Seafood Pasta from Foxy’s on Jost van Dyke
Fried Clam Strips from the Breezeway, Topsail Beach, NC
Guacamole and Chips from Zamas in Tulum
My very own Better Than Sex Soup (they’d have to give me access to a kitchen)
My Mother’s Country Style Steak (though she’d have to be resurrected to make it, since neither I nor E-Bro have quite gotten it to turn out like hers)
Biscuits and Gravy from Dot’s Diner in Boulder
Shrimp and Grits from the Pink House in Savannah
Kentucky Fried Chicken (original recipe)
(Extra) Pepperoni Pizza from Pizza Colore in Boulder
Key Lime Pie from Rhymer’s in Cane Garden Bay, Tortola
Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes from a now-defunct Chicago restaurant whose name escapes me
A Butternut candy bar
Coconut water straight from the coconut
Veuve Clicquot (Orange Label) Champagne
Special Label Mojitos (it’s okay if I get drunk for my last meal, you know)
Apparently, it’s also okay if I go to the chair weighing 300 pounds. They’ll just need to be sure that Old Sparky is extra-sturdy.
I’m sorry not to have a curry on the list, but I haven’t yet found one worthy.
A few notable last meals received (which, in reality, are not always what was requested):
Dobie Gillis Williams (Louisiana): Twelve candy bars and some ice cream.
James Edward Smith (Texas): requested a lump of dirt (request denied).
Odell Barnes (Texas): Justice, Equality, World Peace (request denied).
Philip Workman (Tennessee): He asked that a large vegetarian pizza be delivered to a homeless person in Nashville, but the prison denied his request. However, many in the Nashville area fulfilled it.
Ricky Ray Rector (Arkansas): Steak, fried chicken, cherry Kool-Aid, and a pecan pie — which he did not eat, because he said he was saving it for later.
Victor Feguer (Iowa): requested a single olive with the pit still in.
If you’re interested in the actual last meals of death row inmates, you can find them here: http://deadmaneating.blogspot.com/. Morbid, but fascinating.
And for lighter fare, check out My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals by Melanie Dunea and Last Suppers: If The World Ended Tomorrow, What Would Be Your Last Meal? by James Dickerson, both available at www.amazon.com.
But in reality, very few of us get to cherry-pick our last meals.
My paternal grandmother died at age 90. The last few months of her life, she ate almost nothing. Except she still loved chocolate. My parents tried to get her to eat something healthy, but at some point they asked themselves “Why?” and gave up the fight. She was 90 years old, for heaven’s sake, let her eat what she wants. And so she did.
I cared for my Mother in her last 10 days or so, and could get her to eat very little, as much as I tried to tempt her. But during her last few days, it was so difficult for her to swallow, she wanted nothing but Dibs – those little chocolate-covered ice cream nuggets that she could melt in her mouth, and then, finally, on the last two days, nothing but orange sherbet. She loved it. When she couldn’t really find the right words, she would just waggle her tongue at me to feed her a spoonful, and then sigh with pleasure. It’s a nice memory.
I hope my last meal doesn’t come too soon. There’s a lot of world to eat out there. But next time you feel the dinner party/first date conversation flagging, try the question – it’ll make everybody think.