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I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a brown egg. I’m sure I’ve never eaten a green one. I’ll take two, with a slice of ham.

While my darling daughter has chosen to go somewhere other than Portland State University, we loved how the Portland Farmer’s Market was right in the school’s quadrangle.

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Portland, Oregon.

Quote of the day: “Probably one of the most private things in the world is an egg before it is broken.” —  M.F.K. Fisher

Daily gratitudes:
Things that make me laugh
That irises are finally blooming
Letting go of the past
Carmen Miranda earrings
Contemplation

Please send some healing energy in the direction of my beloved cat, Mr. Man. He seems to be ailing, and I have not been able to get ahold of the vet yet, but I am worried.

A light(ish) shared lunch of collard greens, iced tea, and chocolate peanut butter pie was a little pricey and a little yummy. Russell’s Smokehouse on Larimer Street in Denver is a front for Wednesday’s Pie and the Green Russell speakeasy.  The smell of barbeque is delectable, and they have their own homemade hot sauces, of which this was one, on the table.

Denver, Colorado.

Quote of the Day: “Perhaps our eyes need to be washed by our tears once in a while so that we can see Life with a clearer view again.”  —  Alex Tan

Daily gratitudes:
Herds of cows when they have their heads together plotting
How awesome Kelsea looks in her black cocktail dress
Big oranges
Mustaches
That particular green in the trees that means spring is here.

It’s Bacon!

Would bacon each day….keep everybody away?

I suppose that would be true if I were to emerge from such a bacon experiment either dead from cardiac arrest or weighing 300 lbs. (The former is more likely than the latter.  At least I’d be more enthusiastic about the former than the latter.) But the experiment is tempting. I mean, what if you just DID such things?  Took every year of your life and made it an experiment?  Sort of like Jackie’s Lollipop Tuesdays, except a Lollipop-a-Day. The people who know me best will think that this concept is right up my alley. Others will be conservative and skeptical — doubting Thomases, if you will. (And I must ferret out the origins of that expression.)

But my little sister (yes, you know who you are, P) accidentally tuned me into” liking” the “Bacon is Yummly” page on Facebook (you can see why we’re sisters), so every day – at least once a day – these bacon recipes appear in my feed. (Feed – how appropriate.) So, I got to thinking.

I love bacon. I’m a Southern Girl. I was raised on bacon and grits. And don’t you yankees go getting all self-righteous on me because you were raised on scrapple and mush – I mean, eewww. I pity you and it was no better for you than bacon and grits.

E-Bro still (as older brothers do, thirty years later) loves to tell the tale of how I’d eat a half pound of bacon for breakfast. Hey, I was a dancer. Back then, before I grew hips and Kelsea, I could eat anything and not think twice. I only wish I could reprogram my body to think that way now.

But you hear about people all the time who do this kind of thing – the guy who ate nothing but McDonald’s for a year (blargh). And look at Jared, the Subway spokesman!

I’m spending some time these days contemplating diet and weight loss. I’ve heard that if you lose your emotional baggage, you lose your physical weight. Being the weird spiritual me that I am, I’d buy into that. I know it takes work. I’ve proved that to myself with the weight I lost last year. And honestly, I can feel some shadow of that working around me now. But my soul tells me it’s more than that. It’s a harmonic convergence of elements, which of course, includes diet and exercise. But it also includes joy and pleasure and gratitude and peace and satisfaction of the tastebuds.

Bacon is experiencing an immense resurgence in its popularity.  It’s now one of the coolest kids in school.  When you google ‘Bacon”, you come up with 150,000, 000 hits. You can visit the archives of bacon-related poetry at http://baconhaikus.wordpress.com/ – yes, every day, a haiku about bacon.  Unfortunately, the author seemed to stop posting back in 2009, but perhaps someone will take up the torch. There are literally hundreds of bacon blogs and sites out there, and I could spend weeks reviewing them all to come up with bizarre products and recipes…but I will leave that pleasure to my fellow bacon devotees who might have a bit more time on their hands than I do these days.

But I will tell you that Colorado – as proof of its coolest-state status – is hosting a Bacon Festival in Keystone from June 24-26.  The festival provides attendees with access to over 3000 pounds of bacon.  I (and hopefully Kelsea) will be up in the mountains that weekend for Donkey Derby Days, so we may try to leave early on Sunday to pig out at this event.

I’ll look bacon in the face and tell it that I don’t have the Rocky Mountain Oysters to eat it every day in a recipe. Honestly, such a challenge would likely involve burning down my house, as my propensity for spawning kitchen disasters is well known. (In fact, I am afraid to use my brand-spanking-new oven. I don’t want to dirty it, even with the self-cleaning function, of which I am highly skeptical.)

But the idea of it … the ecstasy of it … the return home to that place of infinite energy and skinniness … might it not be worth a shot?

Mmmmmm.

Bacon.

I will masticate upon it.

Mr Moose and Pan Prepare For Bacon Onslaught

do I really want my coffee to be “rich, thick, syrupy and heavy with chocolately and earthy undertones”?

Can’t I just get a good ol’ cuppa joe?

Photo title:  Thomas’ Lobsters

Anegada, British Virgin Islands.

Quote of the day: “There is no love sincerer than the love of food.”  —  George Bernard Shaw

Many people of the current generation (whatever that is) likely haven’t seen the classic Katherine Hepburn/Spencer Tracy movie “Woman of the Year”.  Amazingly, it’s one of those that I’ve never seen in its entirety, only in snips and bits.  It’s a strange movie, painful and poignant and funny and frustrating, and in the end, happy.  I love watching Heburn and Tracy, moreso because of what I know of their real-life relationship.

But here I have started by digressing.  My point is: if you’ve never seen the movie, and don’t want to, I understand, but it’s worth seeing one segment:  where Hepburn attempts to make breakfast for Tracy.  After putting 4 scoopfuls of coffee in the bottom of one of the old-style (well, then it was perfectly modern) percolators, and a teacup of water in the top, she gamely and cluelessly tries to figure out how to open the stove burners.  Finally and noisily succeeding, she tries to make waffles.  Seperating the eggs is beyond her, so she gives up on it and mixes them all together in the batter.  The waffles, once in the waffle iron, poof to an oozy four-inch height, the coffee bubbles up like lava from the percolator, and the toast is continuously popping out of the toaster, into the air, and onto the floor.  She finally gives up in tears. 

Sounds like a typical day in the kitchen at my house.  Except without the tears.

Where has my kitchen confidence gone?  I have talked about this before.  For the last decade or so of my marriage, I was constantly told that I was incapable of doing anything right.   I actually started to believe it.  It will take a long time for me to realize that it’s not true, that the dynamics behind that belief are complex, multi-faceted, and have very little to do with me.  A dear friend is onto me, though, and is vigilant about not letting me continue with this kind of talk and attitude.

But still…I have issues in the kitchen.  Which is why the kitchen scene from “Woman of the Year” so resonates with me. 

Back in my college days, when staying with my boyfriend at his house in the Bronx, I was on my own one morning and needed breakfast.  He had one of those old gas stoves – I’d never seen one before, but he’d given me basic instructions before he’d left that morning.  I confidently set out to cook some bacon and eggs.   However, I had considerable difficulty lighting the stove.  So much difficulty, in fact, that I filled the entire apartment with gas.  At some point, I realized that there was so much gas in the apartment that if I were to light another match to try to light the stove, the whole place would probably go up in an incendiary ball.  At which point, I opened all the windows, laid down, and tried very hard not to be sick.  I never did get any breakfast.

As I’ve said before, I’ve gone through phases of cooking well and phases of cooking like a three-year old.

I made some stellar mussels the other day – and it was my first attempt at mussels.  I was so proud!

But then again, I made steaks for Kelsea and myself the other night, and they were awful.  Tough, flavorless.  Perhaps it was the meat, but I’m more inclined to think it was me. 

I suppose the reason I’m thinking about this again is because I have to prepare party food for an Open House for work for Friday night.  In my tiny kitchen, with about a yard of counter space and my itty-bitty oven, this task is particularly daunting.  Pat used to do the cooking for these events, and he did it so well.  This time, it’s all up to me. 

I’ve been trying to come up with a fairly simple menu, which so far looks like this:

Fruit  (no cooking required – yippee!)
Cheese and crackers  (ditto)
Veggies with Ranch dressing (double ditto)
Devilled Eggs
Spicy Garlic Shrimp
Bacon Jalapeno Poppers
Guacamole & Chips
Artichoke Bread
White Trash Puff Balls (!!!!)
Chicken Wings
Greek Meatballs with Cucumber Sauce
Lemon Bars
Brownie Bites

That sounds like a lot.  Hopefully it will be enough.  But you can see how it might feel a bit intimidating.

On the other hand, planning for this sort of thing is exactly what I do best.  So the shopping list is made, the cooking tasks are listed, and I’ll be going to the store this afternoon or tomorrow morning.  And after that…

Well, we’ll just have to hope for the best.  And perhaps have some Alka-Seltzer handy.

(Note that this piece was inspired by the above image, which was yesterday’s Visual Prompt #840 from www.easystreetprompts.com.  Thanks for the inspiration!)

Crabs.  (Not the STD, so get your mind out of the gutter.)  They’ve played a role in my life for almost as long as I can remember.  Of course, the main reason is because Cancer is my birth sign.  My favorite piece of jewelry as a tween was a gold crab pendant – I believe my family secretly thought this was most appropriate, as I was a rather crabby child.

I’ve gone in and out of astrology phases for most of my life.  I’m out of one now, though if there are astrology fans out there, I highly recommend Rob Brezsny’s Free Will Astrology (http://www.freewillastrology.com/horoscopes/).  I don’t know where he gets his stuff, but he’s been amazingly accurate in his more esoteric predictions over the years for me. 

The sign of the Crab is supposedly the least clear-cut of all the signs of the Zodiac in terms of defining characteristics.  In fact, many of the personality traits displayed by Cancerians are somewhat contradictory.  We are solitary, yet sociable; down-to-earth yet psychically intuitive; tough but soft.  The description of Cancer being the sign of a homebody has always amused me, but as I contemplate the concept of home more and more in relation to my own sense of wanderlust, there may perhaps be some truth to it.  We are imaginative, cautious, creative, moody, loyal, untidy, romantic and difficult.  And sometimes clumsy.  See what I mean about varied and/or contradictory?

Moving away from the metaphysical, I have memories of numerous crab-related incidents in my life – I’ll share a few choice accounts:

On our very first trip to Topsail, our neighbors invited E-Bro and myself over for a crab boil one night, and our Father wouldn’t let me go.  He didn’t want me to have the experience of a live crab boiling to death screaming in a big pot of water.  I remember being furious.  Clearly, it still rankles.  Regardless, for many years, crab burgers were our traditional first night supper at Warren’s Soda Shop when we arrived at Topsail.

The first time I had Blue Crab was with E-Bro and wife #2 (I think) in some shack in Maryland.  It was a little old wooden place right on the water, with newspapers on the table and some big grizzled man behind the counter.  I was puzzled by the crabs, and made a real mess, but I loved them.  Absolutely loved them.  Until the middle of that night, when I discovered that they did not love me back.  That lack of love lasted through the next day, which was, most unfortunately, a travel day.  I’m not sure I’ve had blue crabs since, but I still recall the taste and experience with great fondness.

I ventured into new crab territory one night somewhere in Florida at Joe’s Stone Crab.  I had driven to the coast from Orlando, poked around for the day, and thought this sounded like a good spot.  It was.  I ate at the bar, and the stone crab claws were delicious.  Having made friends with the manager, we went off to shoot pool and have cocktails at some alligator-themed bar that could only be reached by boat.  And he was a perfect gentleman.

E-Bro introduced me to soft-shell crabs at the Crab Pot in Surf City. 

His description of them as “a giant bug in a sandwich” was rather off-putting, but that’s what older brothers do, right?  And then they make you eat the thing that sounds so disgusting. (And that’s a whole other post.)  But in this case, it was heavenly and is now on my “last meal” list, an evolving project which can be found here

Further explorations into soft-shell crab preparation followed – Shaw’s Crab House in Chicago does an excellent soft-shell saute.  I, on the other hand, do not.  I know this because I tried to prepare them myself once.  By the time I got through cleaning the buggers, there was almost nothing left, and what was left did not taste very good.  Given my history of culinary faux-pas, I expect this was my fault, but I will allow that they might not have been fresh enough, seeing as how I got them in Colorado, which as we know, is over a thousand miles from the ocean.  Interesting, as I come to think of it, that my last kitchen disaster also involved crab, only in the leg form.  Hmmm.

I have learned a very sweet fact about crabs, one which makes me hesitant to indulge my taste for soft-shells:  Before mating, the male ‘cradles’ a soft-shell female in its legs and carries her for up to several days while searching for a private spot, where he guards her during her final molt, at which time they mate.  After mating, the male resumes cradling the female for several more days until her new shell has hardened.  (Source: www.chesapeakebay.net)  Isnt’ that nice?  He doesn’t just hit and run, or roll over and snore — there’s foreplay AND cuddling.  The female, on the other hand, when in her molting state, will kill and devour any other male crab that comes along.  I know there’s a message here, but I’m not quite sure what it is.

The sand crabs at Topsail provide a constant source of amusement.  Blending in with the sand (hence the name), they are a favorite plaything of children and dogs.  Kelsea and I watched Hanky, an adorable white lab, chase one in and out of its hole for almost an hour.

Kelsea and I also witnessed some kind of bizarre mud crab rave when we were walking on a little pier in Emerald Isle last year.  We tried to capture it on film, but it doesn’t really come across.  Imagine balancing on a rickety wooden structure above one thousand black crabs, listening to their little claws click in anticipation of their attack upon your toes, and you’ll get the picture.

Caribbean crabs are much more laidback, which I guess is to be expected, given the culture.  They chill on the beach with you and watch the sunset.

There are over 6,000 different species of crabs in the world.  The smallest is the pea crab, which can be less than 1.5 mm.

The largest is the Japanese spider crab, which can reach 12 feet from leg tip to leg tip. 

One of the most unusual is the coconut crab (related to the hermit crab).  Found in the tropical islands of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, they are 3-feet long, weigh up to 40 pounds, climb tress, and eat coconuts, which they break open with their incredibly strong claws.  Not what I’d necessarily want to confront on a desert island, but they are considered an endangered delicacy.

Well, I suppose you, like I, have had your fill of crabs now.  I sincerely hope that this serving of facts sits well with you.  Have a lovely day.

 

Coffee cups seem to have a curious aura about them for some people.  I am one of those people.  Are you?

As I was cleaning out some stuff from my former house last week, I found a particular box that contained things that I have kept with me since I left home at 18.  I’d been wondering, in idle moments, where they were.  The box holds things that I used to display on a small wooden shelf – where the shelf went, I have no idea.  Among the contents are numerous dried roses from forgotten special moments, a small empty bottle of Moet and Chandon from a perfect date in Boston, a can of Florida sunshine given to me by a boy I dated over Christmas break the year before I came to Colorado, a small oval still-life that my Mother bought me at an art show at Northgate Mall back when it was still a strip mall, a wooden vase my high-school chemistry teacher made for me, because he was fond of me and he said I tried the hardest and did the worst of any student he’d ever had, and a rust-colored pedestal pottery coffee mug that I stole from the first restaurant in which I worked.

I never particularly liked the mug, but it was one of two that I liked to have coffee from when I worked there.  I can’t recall the other one – I just know that there were two.  When it was time to leave the restaurant for the first time, when I moved to Boston, I wanted a reminder of my time there, so the mug joined me on my journey.  I didn’t use it much in freshman year, since I didn’t have access to coffee in my room, but it was with me like a talisman, reminding me of the place and time that I cast off the unfortunate bonds of my rather snooty school and came into my own.  It did see its fair share of coffee – and mold – in sophomore year, when I had my own little coffee pot.

I drank more coffee that first semester in college than I ever had before or ever have since.  By the time I came home for Christmas break, I was drinking three giant styrofoam cups full before 9:00 a.m.  So over Christmas, I went cold turkey. It was awful – I had horrible withdrawal headaches, and was about as bitchy as my parents had ever seen me, which is saying something.  I hope I apologized to them about that before they died.  I think I did.

Over the years, I had favorite coffee cups. There were two, one blue and one green, that I bought from a man curiously selling pottery in the middle of the woods by the Eno River.  A large brown one was purloined as a memento from the first catering company I worked for.  I took it to my last big company, and brought it into my very first meeting.  One of the women in the room said, immediately and loudly, “That is the biggest coffee cup I have EVER seen!”  I wasn’t sure if I should be pleased or embarrassed – you know how nervous you can be on your first day. And to me, it was a pretty normal mug – it’s not as if it were the size of my (albeit small) head.

Some people at work had their own mugs that they kept at their desk, but others would just take whatever mug came to hand in the communal kitchens.  I have always cared what mug I was drinking from – the size matters, the shape matters, the color matters, the design matters – it serves to enhance or detract from the coffee experience (or the tea experience, which is a different story, to be covered in a different essay.)   A mug that was appropriate for one morning’s cup will not necessarily be the right mug for the next day – or even for the afternoon.  Based on the casual consumption of coffee from random containers, I suspect this is not a feeling that everyone shares.  What essence does the character of a mug impart to the coffee, or to the experience?

I’ve always liked coffee cups with saucers.  I borrowed one from my favorite spot on Anegada some years back.  Last year, the cup fell from my wet fingers to shatter on my countertop.  I was devastated, but the need to replace it gives me a good excuse to go back.

The Captain and I liberated a cup and saucer from a special restaurant in San Francisco.  We shared them long distance, trading off who had them.  He was going to make a special travelling box for them, but he died before he could get to it.  I suspect they went off to some thrift store someplace with the rest of his things – no one else knew their significance.

I rescued an old mug from a little hotel on Jost van Dyke.  I felt as if it were my duty to do so before someone else did, as the place had been taken over by new owners and the special mugs were going to be replaced by something generic.

My father had his favorite coffee mugs – kind of oatmeal colored pottery with a wide handle.  He had two of them.  I don’t think I ever asked him where he got them, but he had his coffee from them every morning.  E-Bro took at least one of them home with him after our Mother died.  I was very pleased that he wanted them.  So I suspect that my Dad had the same sensitivity to drinking vessels as I do.

I’ve always had an affinity for the old-fashioned standard thick, white, chunky coffee mugs used at greasy spoon diners like the Busy Bee Restaurant in Brookline, Massachusetts.  I guess that’s consistent with my affinity for the 1940’s era, which is when the Busy Bee most likely opened.

When I moved out of Pat’s house, it felt like I was evacuating before a fire or flood.  I didn’t really pack.  I just took things more or less at random in a state of semi-shock.  I left behind several mugs that had meaning to me, and many that didn’t.  I have very little room in the cottage, and don’t need a lot of things – or a lot of mugs.  In fact, I don’t often drink coffee these days – tea sometimes, but usually at coffee shops where I like to work.  Even then, the mug is important – none of those crappy paper to-go cups for me.

As life goes on, I will surely accumulate more mugs, and not always by stealth.  And each will, most certainly, hold not only copious amounts of coffee (or tea or tequila), but some unique sense of place, space and time that speaks to me with every sip.

I’m looking forward to those sips.

One of the humorous, questionable advantages of having an older brother is that he always remembers your “classic” moments.  E-Bro loves to recount the tale of how, one summer morning when I was in my early teens, I asked him how to boil water.  I don’t think he’s stopped laughing yet.

But it’s true.  Although I admit that I learned a lot about how to make bacon and eggs that summer, a dish which became my signature breakfast through senior year of high school, I couldn’t cook anything else.  The kitchen was my Mother’s for dinner and my Father’s for baking.  Mother wasn’t a gourmet cook.  Her cooking was basic, normal, pretty good.  Nothing she was particularly proud of – it was a have-to-do, not a want-to-do.  The repertoire included such things as Spam, pot roast, chicken and dumplings, creamed chipped beef on toast, county-style steak, the ubiquitous canned/frozen veggie, and a hunk of iceberg lettuce with carrots, olives, etc. for salad.  When she wanted to drive me out of the house, she would make sauerkraut and sausages, naturally one of E-Bro’s favorites.

The irony of my first job being that of cook in a restaurant was not lost on me.  I worked the grill/deli side of the restaurant, occasionally venturing into the salad station downstairs in the fancy French part when the need was dire.  But as a grill cook, I learned to make a few things well: grilled cheese, pastrami sandwiches, cole slaw, chicken salad – nothing complicated, but enough to survive on.  And I sliced my hand to the bone on my 18th birthday, while demonstrating (most impressively as it turned out) what NOT to do when the meat slicer was running.

Moving onto college, my first important college boyfriend still stands by his accusation that my chicken-in-wine (one of my Mother’s special recipes) gave him food poisoning.  That was the first time I ever tried cooking for a boyfriend.  Come to think of it, I didn’t risk it again for probably six years.  Really.

I still stayed in the restaurant world for work.  After two and a half years in a pizzeria, I can make a mean pie. And I toss a mean dough.  Always a useful skill.  (I also severely burned my arm on the inside top of the pizza oven during one lunch rush.)  I basically survived on pizza, as I had convinced myself that I couldn’t cook.  At my apartment, I managed to boil artichokes, and eat peanuts out of the shell in bed.  That was pretty much how it was when I met Pat. 

Once we moved in together, he tried to help me understand that I COULD cook, I just WASN’T cooking.  He actually taught me a lot about things like not measuring and not following a recipe exactly.  I guess he taught me to relax in the kitchen, and in our pre-kid years, we enjoyed cooking together.  While I did have some notable failures, such as forgetting the baking soda in the banana bread, I reached a point where I felt confident in the kitchen.  (Though never with baking.)

But after Kelsea was born, and I was working so much, the kitchen became Pat’s domain.  In one of those many bizarre power plays that contributed to the downfall of our marriage, I let him convince me that I was an incompetent cook.  Any confidence that I had gained in the kitchen vanished, along with any joy in cooking.  It was just more work to me, and I didn’t like it.  I still experimented sometimes when things were still okay in our marriage, but the worse our marriage got, the less I wanted to be in the kitchen.  Maybe I’ll take that to the Red Couch for analysis sometime.

Then, I moved out.  And in my own little kitchen, with the basic implements that I remember my Mother having, I am pretty clueless.  I still love my cooking magazines and cookbooks – I like the idea of cooking.  I have limited counter space.  I still lack confidence, even though I now have time.  Being on the Atkins Diet (still working well, by the way), limits my culinary options fairly significantly – perhaps simplifies them would be a better term.  But I do try. 

Honestly, it’s a joke with Kelsea and me.  We reached a peak of lowness last weekend, when I attempted to broil pork chops while boiling water for crab legs.  Sounds like two simple and distinct actions, doesn’t it?  Well, the cottage is equipped with high ceilings and a smoke detector as sensitive as a bipolar woman with severe PMS.  Between some kind of grease build up on the broiler unit (from roasting chicken – and don’t tell me to clean the oven, because the last time I did that, I got a chemical burn on a very delicate body part, and so am gun-shy about repeating the process without body armour) and the steam from the crab legs, the smoke detector went off.  Permanently.  We opened the window in the kitchen, with Kelsea fanning the smoke away from the smoke detector with a full-size flag of Ireland.  We also opened the kitchen door, accidentally loosening the Mexican porcelain sculpture suspended from the kitchen ceiling, which fell with a splendid shattering crash to the tile entryway, spewing little pieces into the lawn.  Kelsea’s arms gave out, just as smoke started belching from the burners on the stove, so I turned everything off, and waved my sweater in front of the smoke detector until it stopped.  The pork chops and crab legs were overdone and Kelsea and I were done in.

I’m not ready to figuratively throw in the towel, but clearly my current strategy is not working.  Wait, I don’t even know what my current strategy is.  But tonight, as the chicken is roasting away, I have defeated one nemesis.  I took the battery out of the smoke detector.  Talk about living dangerously.

One of my favorite spontaneous questions to ask is, “You can pick anything, from anywhere in the world – what would your last meal be?”  It takes people aback and it makes them think about the best taste or the best emotion that they have attached to food.  I’ve found that people truly are divided into two camps – the ones who focus on tastes that struck them as orgasmic, and the ones who focus on sentimental foods that their mother made.  Perhaps that’s partly dependent on how good a cook one’s mother was.

(bottom image courtesy of www.jgfreedman.com)

Now, for me, if I were on death row and they had to get me whatever I wanted, they’d need some notice, as they’d have to fly some dishes in.  And I tell you, I’d be an absolute glutton.

My last meal would consist of (as a start):

Fresh Mango

Seared Ahi Tuna appetizer from the Blue Crab Lounge in Chicago

Soft Shell Crab Sandwich from the Crab Pot in Surf City, NC

Seafood Pasta from Foxy’s on Jost van Dyke

Fried Clam Strips from the Breezeway, Topsail Beach, NC

Guacamole and Chips from Zamas in Tulum

My very own Better Than Sex Soup  (they’d have to give me access to a kitchen)

My Mother’s Country Style Steak (though she’d have to be resurrected to make it, since neither I nor E-Bro have quite gotten it to turn out like hers)

Biscuits and Gravy from Dot’s Diner in Boulder

Shrimp and Grits from the Pink House in Savannah

Kentucky Fried Chicken (original recipe)

(Extra) Pepperoni Pizza from Pizza Colore in Boulder

Key Lime Pie from Rhymer’s in Cane Garden Bay, Tortola

Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes from a now-defunct Chicago restaurant whose name escapes me

A Butternut candy bar

Coconut water straight from the coconut

Veuve Clicquot (Orange Label) Champagne

Special Label Mojitos (it’s okay if I get drunk for my last meal, you know)

Apparently, it’s also okay if I go to the chair weighing 300 pounds.  They’ll just need to be sure that Old Sparky is extra-sturdy.

I’m sorry not to have a curry on the list, but I haven’t yet found one worthy.

A few notable last meals received (which, in reality, are not always what was requested):

Dobie Gillis Williams (Louisiana): Twelve candy bars and some ice cream.

James Edward Smith (Texas): requested a lump of dirt (request denied).

Odell Barnes (Texas): Justice, Equality, World Peace (request denied).

Philip Workman (Tennessee): He asked that a large vegetarian pizza be delivered to a homeless person in Nashville, but the prison denied his request.  However, many in the Nashville area fulfilled it.

Ricky Ray Rector (Arkansas): Steak, fried chicken, cherry Kool-Aid, and a pecan pie — which he did not eat, because he said he was saving it for later.

Victor Feguer (Iowa): requested a single olive with the pit still in.

If you’re interested in the actual last meals of death row inmates, you can find them here: http://deadmaneating.blogspot.com/.  Morbid, but fascinating.

And for lighter fare, check out My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals by Melanie Dunea and Last Suppers: If The World Ended Tomorrow, What Would Be Your Last Meal? by James Dickerson, both available at www.amazon.com.

But in reality, very few of us get to cherry-pick our last meals.

My paternal grandmother died at age 90.  The last few months of her life, she ate almost nothing.  Except she still loved chocolate.  My parents tried to get her to eat something healthy, but at some point they asked themselves “Why?” and gave up the fight.  She was 90 years old, for heaven’s sake, let her eat what she wants.  And so she did.

I cared for my Mother in her last 10 days or so, and could get her to eat very little, as much as I tried to tempt her.  But during her last few days, it was so difficult for her to swallow, she wanted nothing but Dibs – those little chocolate-covered ice cream nuggets that she could melt in her mouth, and then, finally, on the last two days, nothing but orange sherbet.  She loved it.  When she couldn’t really find the right words, she would just waggle her tongue at me to feed her a spoonful, and then sigh with pleasure.  It’s a nice memory.

I hope my last meal doesn’t come too soon.  There’s a lot of world to eat out there.  But next time you feel the dinner party/first date conversation flagging, try the question – it’ll make everybody think.

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