Last Meal


Tomorrow, or the day after, or 50 years from now, you will have your last meal. I will, too.

I just hope I don’t see it coming.

I hope the last meal sneaks up on me like a stranger in a bar: an unexpected thing, perhaps good, perhaps bad, perhaps completely forgettable. Most of all, I hope my last meal doesn’t seem like a last meal.

It’s not the “last” part that bothers me. I don’t mind the thought of death, the muscles of my jaw going taut, drawing my mouth permanently closed, preventing me from taking another bite. I don’t mind the thought of my tongue rotting away, tastebuds unused and withering. I don’t mind staring at the end: as long as I can say a few goodbyes, I’ll be able to eat, no problem. Then again, as my waistline will tell you, that’s never been a problem.

No, it’s not the “last” part of the last meal that’s tricky. It’s the meal itself.

For a vegan — even a casual one — I’m notoriously nonchalant about my eating habits. I’m not picky, and I don’t require variety. I could eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner all year long. Maybe longer.

For a meal to be a last meal would make it seem significant, and I’m terrible when it comes to legitimately significant things: birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, funerals. To imbue a meal with significance — a simple plate of food? I’d be paralyzed.

How would I choose? What would I choose? Would I go light, so I could face my end comfortably? Would I go heavy and gluttonous with a big blowout? Would I throw ethics to the wind and wrap it all up with a steak and a cigarette? The most likely options include:

  • Tomato sandwiches
  • Mac and cheese
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Gumbo (vegan, prepared by my husband)
  • Ziti (baked, also prepared by my husband)
  • A giant bowl of Vietnamese bún with lemongrass tofu from Tan Dinh
  • My grandmother’s blueberry cobbler (which would require some work with a spiritual advisor, since she’s been gone for nearly 30 years, and no one bothered to write down her recipes)

But who the hell knows? Faced with so many choices, I’d probably just forego the meal and meet death on an empty stomach.

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