Sunday, January 17, 2016
Imagine you have one meal left in your life. What do you eat?
I love talking about food because it is one of the only socially acceptable things we all share. We all need to eat for sustenance, just like animals. But sitting and sharing food humanizes us. It is what bonds families, communities and cultures. We can sit with perfect strangers, eat and start conversation with a million intimate directions. If you had one meal left, what do you eat? Ask that of new acquaintances or over a family meal and watch the conversation start to flow. Chefs love the subject. Check out My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals by Melanie Dulnea, a beautiful collection of pictures and chefs’ reflections on the question.
What if that last meal is due to a death sentence as a result of a heinous crime?
One recent photography project might suggest that exploring condemned prisoners’ last meals forces us all to confront their humanity. Take a look at Henry Hargreaves’ project, No Seconds, and consider our sometimes disturbing common humanity.
So what would you eat? Does contemplating the question and exploring others’ answers humanize the inhumane? Could it even be a tool or catalyst for discussing the validity of the death penalty?
Me? Beer braised short ribs, duck confit, a Neapolitan pizza with anchovies, capers and prosciutto, a stinky, runny epoisses with baguette, my grandmother’s meat pie, a couple good street tacos with my wife’s refried beans, a slice of my mom’s meatloaf, a raw oyster, some chicken livers and an over-the-top, super-rich chocolate cake with chocolate chips, dark chocolate frosting and dark chocolate sauce drizzled all over with a scoop of dark chocolate ice cream. To drink…some insanely hoppy IPA and a Chateauneuf-du-Pape, maybe some horchatta and some limoncello. If it’s my last meal, I’m going to make it a long one!
What’s your last meal?