Memorial Day Special: Last Repasts

May 29, 2016

IMG_5556I’ve been asked what my last meal would be at least a thousand times, so the idea no longer seems all that fresh to me.  But when my old friend Owen Spann first came up with the idea, it struck me as another brilliant way he’d invented to find out who people really were.

Owen was a genius at making people reveal themselves.  His radio show, on KGO in San Francisco, made him a beloved figure; he was one of the pioneers of sane talk radio. I got to know him when I was a restaurant critic for New West Magazine; he asked me to become a regular on his show and taught me almost everything I know about that particular medium.

There are dozens of books like this one now, but it’s still fun to see what people came up with when pressed for an immediate answer. (I wish I remembered what I said when Owen asked me. Sadly, I don’t.) Julia wanted seafood platters and rare wines. And Yehudi Menuhi thought a glass of goat’s milk in a cave was the perfect way to take off for eternity.

In any case, Memorial Day’s about remembering.  And I am very happy to be reminded of Owen.





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  • Hannah says:

    Whenever I’m asked this, I can’t help but think I’d want something delicious but unpredictably poisonous. Fugu, or fesikh, or certain types of wild mushrooms, or blood cockles (though I eat those anyway despite the danger since they’re so delicious). It’d be nice to enjoy these things without the accompanying fear.

  • Anonymous says:

    Ideally, one should prepare each meal as if it were going to be the last one. That said, I hope it’s not a PB and pickle sandwich on good bread which is really better tasting than you’d think, but not very inspirational.

  • Jane Gagle-Bennett says:

    That was me – the comment about a PB and pickle sandwich. I do want to own up to it.

  • Peking Duck and foie gras on a huge loaf of pecan, raisin, walnut cranberry bread by Balthazar! I love everything very fattening…

  • Joy Kramer says:

    Fresh, wonderful crusty bread with a good bunch of excellent butter and a cold glass of Pepsi (or if I can’t name a name brand, then cola). Lobster and butter would be good, but I can probably eat more bread than lobster.
    : )

  • Sue Story says:

    Goodness me, if I ate the Julia Child meal it really would be my last . That is a lot of food and wine.

  • Patrick says:

    Not just a specific meal, but at a specific place: the anonymous but slightly magical Alsatian restaurant to which our European Union study group was taken in 1994.

    Have a huge table with many friends on hand. Green salad to start, slices of quiche, then platters of choucroute garnie. Plenty of local Riesling. Asparagus on the side, maybe young green beans? Apple strudel and an espresso for dessert, maybe a glass of armagnac as we continue on about the trials and joys of reality. Slowly fade into happiness, slip away to bed, slip away.

    Of course I’d also like to do this kind of thing again before that fateful eve, as well.

  • Maureen says:

    Piles ama ebi spot prawns and Maine shrimp fried in brown butter with lemon.

  • Kay says:

    Foie gras is too morally corrupt for a last meal. I’d hate to go out knowing that I left that kind of a debt. I would choose sharper flavors. Grilled romaine wedge with lemon- garlic dressing and fresh grated Parmesan, warm ciabatta bread, Chinese steamed trout with big slivers of ginger, cilantro and scallions and a crisp fume blanc

  • Momma J says:

    For my ‘last supper’, I’d definitely enjoy an entire meal of shrimp, crabs, oysters, and clams! I’ve had to avoid shellfish for twenty years due to an impossible allergy, so why not go out fully enjoying a meal by the ocean?!
    Crazy Crab on Hilton Head Island is my destination!

  • Lauren Ritchie says:

    Last meal could be the last meal I had today at my sisters house in Nyack
    Clam bake with mussles, lobster, clams , crusty french bread to soak up the broth
    and fresh cherries!

  • Liny says:

    I think my last meal would definitely be of a lighter variety. I love food but sometimes I get so caught up multitasking my life that I forget to eat, and that’s why my last meal would be something light that I sit down and thoroughly savor every bit of subtle flavor that goes into it. Nothing that would overcome my taste buds and send me into a food coma though!

    The first thing that popped into my mind was a simple steamed egg dish, with scallions. My mother made it quite a lot when I was younger but not so much anymore, but I suddenly had a craving for it a few days ago.

    I would also love a good cold bowl of soba. Soba doesn’t sit in as much as pasta, it always leaves me with a refreshing “ah” feeling. The first time I had it was in the high heat of a Japanese summer, my host mother had set out a bowl of soba to eat in order to cool down the body.

    I have strong memories attached to food, so it best be a memorable meal, nostalgic even!