Last Meals Don't Have to Precede Death, But They Probably Require Friends and Family

Categories: Whimsy

Writing about last meals is nothing new. Food writers have often riffed on the theme. But last meals are usually framed as an end-of-life treat. A thoughtful article in the Sunday Times takes a different look at how we dine and asks: What would you order as a last meal if cancer changed the way you would eat from then on?

The author pens her story just weeks after undergoing a complete gastrectomy and accounts for her last indulgent meals before a surgeon changed her life forever. There were peanut butter and jelly doughnuts, sushi and ice cream. A foie gras and fig torchon, and butter-poached smoked lobster. Just important as the food was her company, the time spent with her husband and family. Loss, and our fear of it, often sharpen our perception. We savor things differently when we're afraid we might never taste them again.

While I read about the author's experiences indulging in the company of her husband, I thought about my own last meals in New York, saying goodbye someone I still miss dearly. It drove home that fact that a "meal" is so much more than the sum of the ingredients on the plate. It's the day's proceeding events, your company, the weather, and endless other factors that take what might have been just another dinner and make it an experience you'll remember for life.

I'll never forget the delectable and tiny beef burrito wrapped in a delicate flour tortilla I ate in Dumbo, or a celebratory parade down Jay Street, toting a paper wrapped Grimaldi's pie. Errant cravings still linger for corned beef and cabbage and a simmering pot of red sauce and meatballs on the stove. Those meals may not have been as refined as a seven-course tasting menu cooked by a chef at the top of his game, but they were no less perfect. And framed with family and friends they formed food memories I hope never fade.

Check out Anna Stoessinger's story if you read anything food related today, and make a point to eat something special with someone you're close to as soon as you can.

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A square pizza from DiFara's made by the great man himself, Dom DeMarco followed by a lobster dinner from the Lobster Wharf in Boothbay Harbor, Maine.


Scott, I'll be in NYC in October and will only have one meal there.  Any suggestions? (My last time was in 2005 and I ate at Bar Americain, Bobby Flay's place; it was great.)


My mother's pimento cheese with Lays potato chips and a classic Coke; eaten with her!

Scott Reitz
Scott Reitz

One meal in NYC? Impossibly hard. You have to give some parameters if you want a recommendation. If you like the star chef thing, Batali's Otto left me feeling fine the last time I visited. But asking a guy for a restaurant recommendation like this is a little like asking me what kind of woman a guy should date.

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