I’m a voracious reader and while I was enjoying the book My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals by Melanie Dunea, I started thinking about my last supper. Having had so many amazing opportunities to travel to legendary far away cities, in 34 countries, I realize that many of my choices are from foreign lands.
The book is a collection of beautiful photos and interesting insights and stories of 50 chefs from around the world. I appreciate that each chef’s answers to the set of standard questions are in themselves a joy to read. As travelers, we know that we often have beautiful memories of meals abroad, and in listing my favorites, it is without a doubt that my travels have influenced my choices.
I admit it is a difficult task to pin down a subset of my favorite culinary items, and upon reflection, I took quite some liberty in assuming, as one chef did, that the meal could, in fact, last for many days. It would be a continuous celebration of great food, exquisite wines and intense conversations with my loved ones who would be part of the event.
The questions the author asked are as follow:
– What would be your last meal on earth?
– What would be the setting for the meal?
– What would you drink with your meal?
– Would there be music?
– Who would be your dining companions? and Who would prepare the meal?
While I share my answers, I invite you to think about your last meal on earth.
What would be your last meal on earth? My last meal on earth would not be a 2-3 hour meal, but during a weekend, a continuous tasting event, with lots of time in between feasts to rest, take walks, watch sunsets and sunrises and have long deep conversations. I would start with a light morning snack of fresh fruits from around the world, dark espresso with chantilly lace cream, and the fluffiest of croissants, hot and fragrant. A mid-morning spread would include Eggs Benedict, fingerling potatoes cooked in olive oil and basil. Lunch would include Waldorf salad, blanched asparagus covered in slivered almonds and, lastly, tiramisu.
As my French friends have taught me, no afternoon is complete without the apéro ( informal term for having an aperitif). It would need to include a large variety of olives, Jamón Serrano from Spain, bruschetta from Italy, pimento de Padrón and a variety of drinks.
Dinner, well, dinner would be, again, a tasting event, to allow my guests and I a bountiful culinary explosion of tastes. My mother’s ragout de pattes de cochon (pig’s feet stew), sweet lobster claws from New Brunswick, Canada, paella de mariscos (seafood), sushi from Japan and a charcuterie board loaded with the best pâtés and cheeses from France and Quebec, Canada would have the prime location on the buffet table.
As for desserts, there would be an equal variety of sweets from various countries. I would include baklava, dark chocolate mousse, tarta de Santiago, a sinful but super simple dessert of dark chocolate cookie wafers covered with lightly sugared whipped cream, my Mom’s donuts and my grandmother’s sucre à la crème (a brown sugar and cream fudge). Ouff! That is quite a weekend of “degustations”!
What would be the setting for the meal? The setting for the weekend buffet would be in a countryside old home with a large wraparound porch, tables set out in the field of wildflowers, with beautiful soft lit lights hanging from the trees. In late August when the days are getting short and the sunsets fiery red and orange with tinges of dark purple. People would mingle on the porch, in the field or under the trees.
What would you drink with your meal? As far as drinks are concerned (not counting the apéro), there would be lots of red wines (Australian Syrah, Argentinian Malbec, Napa Valley Merlot and French Bordeaux), champagne, mimosas, Cinzano, Resoli (a liqueur from Cuenca, Spain) and of course, my favorite Licor 43.
Would there be music? Absolutely. As much as there is variety in the food, there would be variety in the music. Classical music, opera, hits from the 70s and 80s, a flamenco concert with dance and gypsy music, and during the sunsets, a single violinist and my best friend Monica playing her harp.
Who would be your dining companions? There would be a subset of the guests staying for the duration of the weekend including my family members and 10-12 close friends, while the other guests would come and go as they pleased.
Who would prepare the meal? I would likely want to spread the joy of cooking so family members and friends could take turns.
Now, what would be your last meal?