Death Row Cuisine: Make Your Last Meal Count!

That big day is finally here. The last appeals have been filed, you’ve met with the priest, screamed into a pillow, and apologized to the families. It’s been a tough week and, if it weren’t illegal, you would be entitled to a glass of wine (or two). Now that all that unpleasantness is over, you are faced with that age-old question: what in the world am I going to eat?

Thinking Outside of the Cell
First, in what season were you sentenced to die? This makes all the difference in the world of food. As you know, the prison, like everything else, changes with the seasons. In the summer it can be a hot and stuffy situation and the smart foodie will adjust. In those hot months, why not abandon the stale surf and turf and potatoes that every death row inmate inevitably chooses and branch out? Try Caribbean. Even if it’s just a simple jerk chicken or Pelau. As you know from your serial murdering, sometimes simple is just what the situation needs. Combine it with a nice watercress salad or half a watermelon to maximize and complicate flavors. Perhaps you have higher ambitions. If that’s the case, consider a Moroccan platter with slow-roasted lamb at the center, an adventurous and stylish meal to punctuate a life that could have been.

Desserts to Die For
There is no sense in counting calories now. Today we will have our cake and eat it too. It’s the least the warden can offer. Unless you have a refined sweet tooth, we suggest Italian (and not just basic Tiramisu). How about Chocolate Torrone, a Cannoli Tarte, or Mango Italian Ice? If you have an adventurous palette, try Italian Chocolate Salami. Imagine being able to escape to a springtime Tuscany of the mind just before the lethal injection. When they ask you if you have any last words, we wouldn’t be surprised if they’re all about the Cannoli Tarte.

Stalk the Local Markets
Let’s assume for a moment that you were lucky enough to be sentenced to death during the holiday season. Fill the other death row inmates with envy by utilizing the local shop’s willingness to special order during this time of the year. Escargot? Um, yes please. Prime Rib is a must if your date is close to Christmas. Stick to the basics, make it big and hearty, and save your creativity for the sides. Fried okra, smoky roasted cauliflower, or a parmesan and garlic farfalle; pancetta wrapped asparagus, roasted brussel’s sprouts with chopped fresh side, rice with pork belly.

Farm-to-Casket in the New South
If you’re a refined Hannibal Lector type then you likely have heard all about the farm-to-table movement, localism, and the move towards a more sustainable cuisine. In that case, the region in which you’re being executed is most important. Based on statistics, you are probably in the American South where food scene is always looking forward. From Nashville to Birmingham to Louisiana, inventive young chefs have elevated Southern food to new levels. We suggest going old school to honor the deep traditions of this region. It’s now or never for you to experience the culinary roots of the area surrounding your cell. You could throw the warden for a loop and order a two-day roast hog cooked in coals buried underground, but we suggest squirrel and dumplings for the novice.

Eat Like There’s No Tomorrow
Go French or Scandinavian. This will be difficult without the ability to research, so use that last call wisely. Ask someone with Google access for some of those rarer foods. We’re thinking lutefisk, blood sausage, or perhaps a renegade spicy sauerbraten. Go big or go back to your cell! Oy Vey! The combinations are truly endless, but your time obviously is not. The main point is to eat like you lived—carelessly and without regard to the norms of society. Whatever you choose: Bon Appetite! And may God bless your soul.