A Meal That Lasts, A Feeling That Lingers
To say that I enjoy food is a bit of an understatement. I'm not snotty about it, I'm not pretentious, but anyone in my research group could tell you that I've already been to that new restaurant, and chances are, I'd be happy to go again.
I saw a tweet yesterday from @WholeFoods about something called #DarkRye. This is their new online magazine in which they showcase ideas at the edge. They call it a place for "leisure storytelling steeped in a vision of sustainable, decadent, and curious life."
The story that caught my eye was one about an Oregon woman who paints the last supper contents of death row inmates onto ceramic plates. The multi-media #DarkRye exhibit of her story contains a menu of last meals.
Eleven states are represented with last meal requests dating as far back as 1990. As my eyes moved across the first entry — ALABAMA / 13 January 2011 / Declined a final meal request, instead buying a cheeseburger from the vending machine plus a V8 juice, pork skins and a Yoo-hoo drink — to the second — ALABAMA / 04 November 2010 / Did not request a final meal, but had cheese crackers, nacho cheese Bugles, a ham-and-cheese sandwich and a Dr. Pepper from vending machines — to the third — ALABAMA / 09 September 2010 / None — and the fourth — ALABAMA / 12 August 2010 / Vending machine meal of a meatball sub sandwich, a double pork chop sandwich and a Philly cheesesteak sandwich with an orange soda and orange juice--a knot began to form in my stomach.
I felt sick, not because I've experienced vending machine food, but because I was blown over by what it meant to have a last meal.
Normally a person wouldn't know what they were eating was a last meal. What if I did? What would I eat? Would I be satisfied? If I asked for ALABAMA / 10 June 2010 / Fried fish, french fries and iced tea, would they find the specific fried fish I craved? I can hardly do that myself. Would the french fries be the ones I think of when I want perfect, crunchy, comforting french fries or just some mushy, undesirable ones?
I found myself looking for stereotypical foods common to an area — fried okra in the South, guacamole tostadas in Southwest. Fried eggs and steak were frequent choices. Pizza and chocolate cake. A 1994 request for the long-missing Breyer's Viennetta ice cream cake-like thing. Oftentimes, nothing.
Take a look at the menu. Let the realization settle in that these meals have long-ended, that the table has been cleared.
Click here and scroll down to Morbid Curiosity for the menu.