I’ve been listening to the Table Manners with Jessie Ware podcast, and the hosts always ask their guests what they’d choose for a “Last Meal on Earth” (then they correct it to “Desert Island Meal,” in case the first is too macabre). Ever since I picked up the show, I’ve been angsting and aaaangsting over this question! I’ve arranged (and rearranged) dishes in my head for months, and at last I’ve carved it down to four meals, the fewest I could manage:
1. This is the first one that came to mind, so maybe it’s the purest choice. I’d start with a lovely pizza: a cream base, with pesto and arugula and mushrooms and soft cheese. Then I’d have lasagna – a fancy lasagna – with yet more cream and ricotta, plus various salty pork meats. Mmfff. If I’m dying, then I’m going down as Garfield. And don’t take my pictures at face value, by the way – the single slice is there to represent the entire pan. Anyway, since I have an Italian theme going, my first inclination is to follow up with panna cotta or tiramisu, but I feel like I’d want something colourful and acidic after all that rich cream and bread-type food, so I decided on fruit followed by coffee and tooth-breaking biscotti (a lot of them, not just three sad little biscuits).
2. This is a weird selection. I guess I’m going for Marian-specific comfort food, or family nostalgia, rather than general appeal. I’d start with a big, well-appointed cobb-ish salad, like the ones my sister makes when we hang out, full of chicken and bacon and avocado and cheese. Then I’d follow it with – be still my heart – chanterelle mushrooms fried in butter and added to scrambled eggs. Then, of COURSE, I’d have an entire pie. Raspberry rhubarb, and made by a serious pastry chef who can get the flaky, buttery crust just right. Ideally, I’d resurrect my grandmother for the task. I think this meal would be nicely finished with yet more coffee (or tea) and a vast chocolate tasting platter.
3. This would make a perfect last meal, but it’s also exactly what I’d eat all the time if I had wads of money. Here, I’d go to a really nice Japanese restaurant – my beloved Shiro, or one of the famous fancy ones in Vancouver – and order everything on the menu. A big, over-the-top omakase experience. The goma ae would be key, as would the oshinko, and all the beautiful nigiri arranged before me like an opened box of shinies. Then I’d want to follow that up with at least three pints of Earnest ice cream. These should definitely include the flavours: cookies and cream, and oatmeal brown sugar. I’ll let the third be a wild card.
4. I held off on committing to this one, but honestly, if I was about to die, it’s probably what I’d choose. I wouldn’t waste any time with multiple savoury courses. I’d have a small bowl of tomato soup with a few buttered slices of baguette, and then the real thing would begin. It would start with a carrot cake – and listen, it has to be the right kind of carrot cake – dense and nutty, with a scant top layer of icing. Then I’d go sweeter and richer with a wodge of sticky toffee pudding, like, so full of dates it’s practically indecent. Then I’d want a hard wedge of very, very dense, dark chocolate cake. More bitter than sweet – a palate cleanser, after the sticky toffee. Then a huge, puffy slice of angel food cake spilling over with half-set icing and scattered with raspberries. Then the coup de grace, the pavlova with its marshmallowy give, and the sweetness of the meringue and the tartness of the berries cutting into the cream, fucking hell. And since it would be cruel to leave it there, I’d finish with some cookies to bring me back to sanity and moderation: spiced oatmeal raisin, and ginger molasses.