When Graham and I moved to this place, we decided to get cable. Well, we decided to get cable and Internet, like real Internet, not the increasingly spotty and idiotically-served Clear Internet we’d been using. Yes it was cheap, but we definitely got what we were paying for, and we figured we could pay more for Internet that actually worked all the time and maybe try out some TV while we were at it.
So far, our Internet is great. I can use it from anywhere in the house, which is a big change from our old place, where even sitting right next to the router didn’t guarantee a decent speed. And we have cable, which I thought would be terrific for getting drunk and yelling at the Food Network, but it turns out that Guy Fieri is just depressing and I’m never home for the Barefoot Contessa.
I still watch cable, just not as much as I thought I would. Netflix is still my primary source of entertainment, and instead of the Food Network, I’ve recently caught up on the new episodes of “The Mind of a Chef.” Season one had been good but I found myself really enjoying season two, particularly the Southern food heritage episodes and pretty much everything April Bloomfield does, ever.
Any time I watch (or read, or write, or think) anything about food, I start planning out my last meal. I’ve been doing this for a long time. And I mean a loooooooooong time. At least ten years. In the beginning, my last meal consisted of things I’d never tried before, and then it became the most luxurious things I could think of, and then it became every single thing I’d ever loved crammed into one impossible smorgasbord. Sometime in the past few years, though, my last meal has changed from all of the above to what I think is an ideal distillation of the foods that give me the greatest comfort and evoke the greatest memories. And this is the version of the meal that has stayed the longest, and that I hope is the best possible one, at least if I were to be forced to have it right now.
So if you ever receive an invitation from me that seems a bit out of the blue, or that carries with it a bit of urgency, please RSVP if you can. This is what we’ll be eating:
Served on my grandparents’ old backyard patio – or maybe a fantastical combination of both of the backyard patios of both of my grandparents! – in late summer or early fall in St. Louis. Still warm outside and everything’s still green, but there aren’t any more mosquitos and we can still play washers until late at night and listen to the cicadas dying out.
Peonies and irises to remind me of my childhood home. Roses and tomato vines to remind me of my grandparents.
Fried catfish tossed from the fryer onto tables lined with newspaper, served with lemon wedges, chunky tartar sauce, and (sorry!) a bottle of ketchup. Hush puppies because everyone else likes them but my own cornbread for me, plus some of the drop biscuits my mom makes that have uneven, crunchy tops and soft, floury insides. Butter and honey on the side.
Barbecued pork ribs that my dad makes, and ears of corn on the cob wrapped tightly with salted butter in foil and placed on the grill, then unwrapped and sprinkled with fresh chopped chives.
Handfuls of fat summer green beans, blanched until just tender and then tossed with some warm red wine vinaigrette with lots of shallot and Dijon mustard. Some roasted broccoli, sweet and nutty and just charred on the ends. Collard greens braised with bacon and onions, finished off with a splash of vinegar.
My own garlic mashed potatoes made with full-fat cream and lots of butter. Ice cold carrot sticks dipped in creamy Caesar dressing. A devilled egg dusted with paprika.
A cooler full of ice and bottles of Budweiser and Schlafly Pale Ale. Sun tea jars in the refrigerator full of tea, poured over lots of ice with some simple syrup for sweetening. Bottles of Mexican Coke. I’d probably only have half of one but they’re pretty good.
For dessert, an Oreo Blizzard from Dairy Queen. A big bowl of perfect strawberries with fresh whipped cream. A dark chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Even a cheap one from the grocery store is fine. A spoonful of crème brulee.
Grand Cuvèe Champagne.
A short macchiato.
Someone else cleans up.