Thursday August 21, 2014

The last supper: What would you have?


View from the Cheap Seats is kind of an extension of the newsroom. Whenever our three regular reporters, Calvin Daniels, Thom Barker and Randy Brenzen are in the building together, it is frequently a site of heated debate. This week: What would you choose for your last meal.

Not just the food

What a horrible question to try to answer. Even entertaining the idea that I would know it is the last time I will sit down to a meal conjures anxiety enough to make me lose my appetite.

Let’s say I overcome that, though. Perhaps I have been practicing Yoga and meditation for the several months I have been sitting on death row and have achieved inner peace. I imagine I would initially be tempted to go for comfort food. What immediately comes to mind is my grandfather’s gnocchi with veal in tomato sauce.

This is just about the simplest meal I’ve ever cooked. The sauce has five ingredients, veal, butter, tomato paste, salt and water. The gnocchi is a little more labour-intensive, but very simple as well.

Just the thought of those fluffy potato pasta pillows swimming in that reddish-orange, buttery goodness is very comforting… if you grew up with it. I have to admit, it has failed to impress many people I have made it for who don’t have that all-important familial connection. It is not, for example, something I would want to pull out for a Masterchef audition.

Secondly, I’d be tempted to order a smorgasbord of my favourite things, pistachios, Montreal-style bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon, samosas, beef schawarma, lobster tails in garlic butter, pho, vermicelli Singapore, tandoori chicken, fish tacos etc. But that would just be so unwieldy it would be difficult to enjoy the individual items, much less the whole meal.

Ultimately, I’m going to add a big assumption here. What the heck would I being doing on death row? The reason for this last meal would have to be something more plausible, like maybe there’s an asteroid about to hit the Earth the next day and end humanity.

For me, there’s a lot more to eating than just the food, it’s the whole dining experience. So, for my last meal, I am going to choose to gather a large group of my closest friends and relatives and go out for dim sum. Love the food, love the atmosphere, love the whole process.

— Thom Barker

Comfy reminder

I can’t say if gals do such things, but when a group of guys get together the things up for discussion can be rather diverse.

There are the typical ones, such as who is the hottest gal in an ongoing television series, or how bad the Toronto Blue Jays are actually going to be this year (Felicity Smoak on Arrow, and dead last in their division bad, for the record).

And, yes the conversation of what one might order for their last meal, or a variation of the theme, has come up a time, or two.

I’ll know when I am sick, and it feels like the arrival of the Grim Reaper might actually be a blessing, I can be a ... well a man, and that means being a bit of a suck. Yes, I admit it. I can be a bit ‘needy’ when a cold knocks me down.

At such times I like comfort food. Give me good fried chicken, creamy-whipped mashed potatoes and gravy, and mashed turnips that are seasoned with butter and brown sugar.

I am sure the medicinal value of the meal is about the same as a sugar pill, but the placebo value of a favoured meal cannot be overlooked in terms of recovery either.

But a last supper, maybe not.

Food is often a case of mood, and timing.

I am far more likely to crave a stack of flapjacks, with a side of bacon, for Sunday lunch than any other day.

A meal to watch the Saskatchewan Roughriders, or to take on a fishing excursion, well then it’s spicy chili, with lots of kidney beans, corn, peppers and mushrooms.

While a playoff game where the ‘Riders are losing might seem like the eve of the end, it’s really not, so maybe not chili for the last supper.

For a final meal, give me some prime ham, preferably home-smoked. Serve that up with some sauerkraut, perogies, and pickled beets. It would be a meal to remind me of my farm roots, ethnic heritage and would be just the ticket for one last meal of enjoyment, not fancy, but oh so good.

— Calvin Daniels

Sampling of

This is actually a very tough question seeing as I’ve never actually thought about it before. But now that I am thinking about it, I’d have to have an array of things for my last meal (because you can’t really say an all-you-can-eat buffet).

First off, a nice, big bowl of mac and cheese followed by a beautifully cooked steak with zero fat on it and half a loaf of bread (for steak sandwiches, of course!).

Accompanying the food would have to be a nice, tall, cold glass of coca-cola and, believe it or not, a bag of Spitz sunflower seeds (seasoned flavour only).

For dessert I’d have to have eight scuffles (not seven, not nine, just eight), a bowl of Rolo ice cream and a banana and strawberry smoothie.

I’ll be honest, just writing all of that makes me salivate so I’ll have to cut this short as I now have to go to the store and buy some mac and cheese and a steak… bon appétit!

— Randy Brenzen



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