HALLIE EPHRON: The State of Texas, always the leader in these kinds of things (sorry Debs), just eliminated 'last meal' request of prisoners about to be executed.
Apparently the request of a vicious white supremacist killer was the last straw: two chicken-fried steaks with gravy and sliced onions; a triple-patty bacon cheeseburger; a cheese omelet with ground beef, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and jalapenos; a bowl of fried okra with ketchup; one pound of barbecued meat with half a loaf of white bread; three fajitas; a meat-lover's pizza; one pint of Blue Bell Ice Cream; a slab of peanut-butter fudge with crushed peanuts; and three root beers.
The final insult? He refused to eat it.
Now issues of death penalty aside, please, what this story got me thinking about was:
What one thing would I order up if I knew it was my last meal?
Easy answer: Chinese soup dumplings.
The best ones in Boston these days are in Chinatown at the (cramped, noisy, worth the wait no matter how long) Gourmet Dumpling House (on the menu they are the Mini juicy pork dumplings). And whoever's in that kitchen really knows what she's doing.
These little tender noodle-wrapped packets of savory pork and ginger are served in their steamer. The soup is IN the dumplings, so you have to carefully ease the dumpling off the steamer rack and into a spoon, tear a hole in the dumpling, ladle over it a bit of vinegar and soy dipping sauce, and slurp your way into heaven.
What's your final request?
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I regret to disclose that I've actually thought about this.
It's so sad that I really can't decide.Because how would anything taste good? And I completely understand the guy trying to take his last bash at the system by making them provide a raft of food. Good for him. Hey, cheaper than feeding him for the rest of his life, right? The whole thing is horrible.
(Did you have those dumplings at The Royal East Restaurant? I agree, yummy.)
But if you're making me answer :-) : strip steak, grilled on charcoal, crispy on the outside and rare on the inside, with blue cheese melting on top. And french fries and green beans and lemon souffle for dessert. (But its still sad.)
Or, I'd be happy to have those dumplings with you.
RHYS BOWEN: Everything high cholesterol/high fat that I've been avoiding! I seriously don't believe I could swallow a last meal knowing what was going to happen to me. But maybe a few oysters would slip down. A lobster? Or skip the meal and have three desserts?
JAN BROGAN: Wow. I've never thought of this. But those dumplings sound awfully good. Using Rhys logic - which I applaud - they might not be high cholesterol/high fat enough though. I think I'd want lobster - but only if they could assure me it was right off the boat (I'm spoiled ) oysters, and eggplant rollitini. Roasted Broccoli. an Apple Fritters from Back Door Donuts in Oak Bluffs and New York Cheesecake. I think there's a good chance my heart would stop before they actually executed me.
And not for nothing, but couldn't the state of Texas just put a limit on the last request meal instead of banning it completely?
LUCY BURDETTE: First of all, no wonder the man couldn't eat the fried okra--he had them put ketchup on it??? Completely ruined...just hot sauce on mine please. And I like the idea of BBQ, maybe a few slices of Pepe's pepperoni pizza from New Haven, CT, mashed potatoes and turnips and gravy, a big piece of yellow sponge cake with chocolate icing and a glass of milk...and dumplings with Hallie!
DEBORAH CROMBIE: In my Southern incarnation, I think I might go for a fried oyster po-boy with coleslaw. (Ketchup on fried okra? Not even going there.) In my across-the-POND replication, I might have had the perfect last meal the other night. Fresh artisan bread dipped in olive that smelled GREEN and tasted heavenly, then steamed fresh mussels in garlic, cream, and white wine sauce.
And for the main course, roasted pork belly, which I don't think we even get in the US because people think it's too decadent, although I suspect it's not nearly as bad for you as a MacDonald's hamburger. (This is pork with the crisp crackling left on, and the rest of it melts in your mouth.)
Oh, and then, you might guess, shared Sticky Toffee Pudding. Probably a very good thing I don't get to eat like that very often!
ROSEMARY HARRIS: I had dinner at Paul Bocuse once and as I recall the food just kept coming and coming - so I can understand wanting to have a long, long last meal if only to be on the planet a little longer. Three bottles of champagne, caviar, cheese and crackers and foie gras (which I haven't had in years and don't even know if they still make.) And creme brule. I'd probably be so sick after all this that I'd want to go.
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: How about some sashimi of that puffer fish that will kill you if not prepared correctly? I mean, what the hell...
If I had to choose a last meal, I'd probably ask for a Proustian one: the taste of my memories. So German sauerbratten with Syracuse salt potatoes on the side. Sliced tomatoes with vinegar and crispy fried okra. Wash it all down with a Pimm's Cup and for dessert? Maine blueberry pie. Oh, and on the soundtrack while I ate? Puccini's Turandot.
Hmm. Maybe I shouldn't wait until it's my last meal on earth to do this...
HALLIE: Definitely, don't wait! Bring on the fugu, if it's your heart's desire! Because tomorrow... well, you just never know, do you?
What would be on your table for your last supper?