In Just One Taste, the third installment in my culinary romance series, the kitchen crew of trendy Manhattan eatery, Market, plays a time-honored chef game. After a long, arduous dinner service, the chefs kick back, have a drink, and ask each other this question: if you knew you were going to die tomorrow, what would you ask for as your last meal?
I have a gorgeous coffee table book based around the Last Meal game. In My Last Supper, food writer and photographer Melanie Dunea went down a list of world famous celebrity chefs and got them all to play. The answers are sometimes astonishing, often touching, and always illuminating.
The Market crew in Just One Taste gives interesting answers, too, proving once again that what we like to eat says a lot about who we are as people. Many chefs fall back on the delights of childhood as a comfort against imminent death; others take the opportunity to name foods they’ve never tried, not wanting to waste their last chance for culinary adventure. When the game progresses around the table to Wes Murphy, my hero, his answer is strawberries dipped in chocolate . . . because they remind him of the heroine, Dr. Rosemary Wilkins, whom he never expects to see again.
Of course, we know better! But you get the idea. It’s not about taste, alone. The combination of berries and chocolate has a specific meaning for Wes, evoke a certain memory and emotion—the last memory and emotion he’d want to savor if he were going to his death the very next day.
Personally, I find my answer changes depending on my mood. My sister left for an extended trip this week, and I miss her already—so at the moment, I think I’d be inclined to remember the warmth and fun of Sunday mornings when we were kids. My father would cook us “French pancakes,” crispy, buttery crepes rolled around sweet-tart jam and sprinkled with powdered sugar, and we’d wash them down with cold glasses of milk. Shoot, now I’m hungry!
So what would you choose for your last meal? I have an autographed set of my Recipe for Love novels for one of you!