For foodies around the world the idea of having a last meal is harrowing. It’s an existentialist conundrum that is enough to drive gourmands mad, a certainty that can’t be evaded, a halt to pleasure and taste.
In every issue of Monocle we ask personalities to tell us how they would spend their final repast. Although the interviewees can choose their own restaurant and could easily spend a fortune on a feast, most of them end up opting for a small, cosy gathering of family and friends, eating dishes that are not only tasty but also take them back to memorable places and moments in their lives. After reading many of these interviews I decided to taste our own medicine and asked myself what my last meal would be.
It’s not an easy question. Besides selecting who to invite (family and friends, of course), it’s a puzzle that left me with the imbarazzo della scelta – the awkwardness of choosing.
Would I start with a delicate white truffle risotto? Or a mountain of deep-fried plantains and empanadas smothered with guacamole instead? Would my grandmother’s rabbit stew make the perfect main course or should I get her to make the brigadeiros for dessert? Would I be allowed to have more than one main course?
I pondered this for days but was still unable to find an answer. The barbecue ribs at Shorty’s in Miami that I chose one day were quickly crossed out the next by Casa Lucio’s huevos estrellados in Madrid. And the plans to have an exotic fruit sorbet for dessert (a selection of níspero, borojó, tamarind, mangosteen) were quickly melted by gianduja fondant gushing out of a moelleux au chocolate.
Thinking about a last meal puts you in touch with mortality, the stopping of the clock, the last breath. It’s a daunting thought, a philosophical debate better left out of table talk and dinner discussions. I don’t know when my time to go will be, nor do I know if a light elevenses or a tasting menu will be the last I eat, so it’s better to treat every meal as if it were the last. There can be no final word when it comes to choosing your last meal but after undergoing this rhetorical experiment I know that from now on I’ll enjoy every bite to the fullest, whether it’s a cheese toastie or a Kobe beef fillet.