When I saw this large and intriguing book at my favorite monthly book sale a couple of weekends ago, I remembered there was a first book, My Last Supper, published in 2007 that I wanted to buy but never did. It was a highly regarded and popular book so it only made sense for photographer Melanie Dunea to publish a follow-up with “The Next Course”of chefs, listed below.
Both books are a fascinating look into the world of people who have made food their life. All of the chefs were asked the question, “What would be your last meal on earth?” The answers, of course, are as individual as the chefs, from the simple to the exotic. The stunning photographs were shot in various locations around the globe and so breath-taking, you almost want to tear out the pages and frame them. Along with the photographs are the recipes because once you read what each chef would select, you will want to make some of them yourself even if it wouldn’t be your choice of a last supper.
The chefs were asked a few other questions too. Here was the list given to each:
- What would be your last meal on Earth?
- What would be the setting for the meal?
- What would you drink with your meal?
- Would there be music?
- Who would be your dining companions?
- Who would prepare the meal?
After reading through the entire book, here is a quick version of what I discovered:
For the last meal question, most preferred the comfort food of their region or youth. There were some very high-end meal answers, but for the most part many chefs preferred simple, fresh, and familiar. For the setting, most answers sounded like more exotic places involving nature like oceans, mountains, and forests, but home and comfort were also prevalent. The choice of drink was almost always wine. Music was divided between having it throughout the meal or not at all. Dining companions with a last meal was almost always family and friends. As for preparing the meal, it was overwhelmingly that the chefs wanted to prepare their own final meal. Some mentioned other chefs or family members helping, but for the most part, it seems most chefs prefer their own cooking because it was their passion and their life. Some of the answers took up an entire page, others quick and to the point. One chef wanted nothing more than some pure water, a great bread, eaten alone in silence. Another wanted only tea with the Dahlai Lama while sitting in front of the Lincoln Memorial. A well-known French chef said no political talk would be allowed at his table. I’ll have to agree with him on that.
I would love to hear how some of you would answer these questions. I’ll start the ball rolling. Here’s how I would answer, at least at this moment. Who knows, maybe I would change my mind in the future, but at this time I would have to say I would like my last meal to be a full Thanksgiving feast, with all the beloved family recipes and maybe trying a few new ones too. The setting would be here at home with my family, relatives coming over from Finland, and very close friends. Drinks would be whatever people would want and I know there would be a variety. I would say no to music because the best music to my ears is instead hearing family laughing, chatting, and enjoying each other, with the sounds of a baby giggling or even crying, but there would definitely be babies and children. However, I would have to say, if Paul McCartney agreed to come and sing “In my Life” before dessert and then leave, that would be heavenly, but that would be my only exception. Speaking of dessert, I would be specific about that. There would have to be apple pie, pumpkin pie, concord grape pie, and Finnish cousin Pavi’s Wild Blueberry Coffee Cake (that is actually more like a pie), and Finnish cousin Leena’s slice cookies. I would probably prepare most of the meal, but I would love for my girls and the Finnish relatives to help me, and for sure have my daughter Kristina arrange the table setting because she’s so wonderful at making a gorgeous table.
Your turn. How would you answer these questions?