The end of the world is slated for this Friday, December 21, and Chinese restaurants are fully booked.
They are promising a wonderful atmosphere and are dubbing the special evening the “Last Supper."
We can already imagine the hordes of young people who will spend the evening in a bar – downing alcohol to help them face the end of days – or perhaps at a special doomsday concert.
The concept of the last meal, in general, fascinates. So much so that there is an American website specialized in this very subject and dedicated to tracking down what death row prisoners had for their last supper.
A survey of 247 death row inmates by Cornell University found that 20% of them chose not to eat at all. It’s understandable that when you don’t have much time left, you might prefer to spend it thinking about certain things, and not eating. The rest of the prisoners described menus that can be characterized as high calorie, high in protein and highly greasy. Over 80% of them wanted meat, two out of three wanted fried food. Almost none of them chose vegetables, spaghetti or pizza.
While death row menus are quite depressing, Melanie Dunea, an award-winning photographer, had the ingenious idea of asking 50 of the world’s most famous chefs the same question, as well as who they would like for company, and who they would like to cook their last meal.
She compiled these chefs’ last meals into a cookbook called My Last Supper: Fifty Great Chefs and Their Final Meals.
When it comes down to issues such as food, probably no one can offer a broader insight than world-famous chefs. White truffle, the finest beluga caviar, and $300-a-pound otoro tuna are some of the chosen ingredients.
The truth is that what these chefs would like their last meal to be has nothing to do with death or life, but rather with desire. After all, they are the people on top of the pyramid when it comes to utmost culinary pleasure. They should know what makes up a perfect meal.
Anthony Bourdain, a famous New York chef as well as a best-seller author, was invited to write the preface for the book. Bourdain is convinced that if you had to predict someone’s last meal, it would most likely be their favorite childhood meal – a simple daily dish, to be eaten with one’s family.
If that’s true, then this book will definitely not fly off the shelves!
But actually, the book shows that more than half of the chefs would go for the finest sashimi, Japanese raw fish, and Black Sea caviar. Most of the time, they would like another world-class chef to prepare their last meal. French chef Alain Ducasse, is the most popular, since he is the only person in the world who owns three 3-star Michelin restaurants.
“Only good food and love”
The ideal last meal of Tom Aikens, the Michelin-starred British chef and one of the cooks on Iron Chef UK, includes “roasted foie gras seasoned with coarse sea salt and cracked black pepper and eaten out of the pan with toasted sourdough.” Next dish would be “seared Scottish scallops, sautéed in a hot pan in the best olive oil money can buy, and served with sauce vierge.” Well, that's for starters. For the main course, he’ll have “either fresh Dover sole cooked in brown butter with capers, lemon juice, and parsley; or a beautifully aged piece of marbled, four-week-old beef, grilled or roasted in the oven till pink.” He’d also like to have “a simple green salad on the side, with French dressing, and some thick-cut chips that have been cooked in duck fat and sprinkled with Malvern sea salt or fleur de sel.”
The menu of Anita Lo, a second-generation Chinese from New York and one of the very few female chefs in the book, came up with goodies such as Peconic Bay scallops, sea bass, otoro tuna, beluga caviar so fresh that “one feels it bouncing in the mouth”, blue crab cakes and cuttlefish sub sauté with garlic and lemon juice, and Hudson River foie gras.
As for French chef Daniel Boulud, his ideal meal is in the Hall of Mirrors, in the French palace of Versailles, with Alain Ducasse as the chef and foie gras terrine, lobster, game bird such as partridge or pheasant, and of course, a cheese course.
Naturally, the ones who can still imagine themselves savoring a good meal and good drink at the end of the world are the ones who don’t believe in such a thing. After all, it’s those trivial daily little wonders that give people the courage to face doomsday. Just like the Chinese proverb, “Only good food and love are to be lived up to.”