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Frame: In Cold Blood

November 12, 2010

I have a theoretical problem with the concept of a planned “last meal.” I guess if you are in prison eating mush all day, any food is an improvement, but I have a lot of questions about what kind of restrictions are put on that last meal.

-Can you request a specific restaurant, or is the prison kitchen making your shrimp, french fries, and garlic bread, a la the last meal requests of Perry Smith and Richard Hickock of In Cold Blood infamy?
-On that note, can you request a specific person to make your meal? A celebrity chef, perhaps? What if John Wayne Gacy’s requested fried chicken just HAD to be made by Pat and Gina Neely?
-Do last meal requests ever get vetoed? What if you ask for some exotic ingredient, or clementines in July- is someone really going to come back to you and say “pick something else?”
-Where do you eat the last meal? Do you have to eat it in your cell? Can you have candles or some mood lighting?
-Do you get real silverware? I assume, if you are in the position of having a last meal, you probably haven’t seen a real knife in a while. But what if you order steak, like Ted Bundy? Do they make you struggle with a plastic knife?
-Is there a price ceiling on your last meal? And if so, what is it? $50? $25? Not great for someone with a hankering for caviar, truffles, or foie gras.

Then there are the last meals that aren’t planned, like Julia Child’s french onion soup, or John Belushi’s lentil soup. I really hope my last meal isn’t soup, but I guess it’s better than Michael Jackson’s spinach salad or Cleopatra’s figs.

And of course, there are the gangster last meals- the  meals that you are pretty sure are going to be your last meal, even if you don’t know for certain you’re about to go down in a hail of bullets. Bonnie and Clyde had spam sandwiches before they were ambushed, Ma Barker is said to have had beef stew. Tony Soprano had onion rings before the screen faded to black, and while I can’t seem to find the facts on what Al Capone ate, it was probably some form of pasta.

And finally, there are the gangsters that will actually give you, the gangstered, a heads-up on what could be your last meal, such as one lesser-known femme fatale. “That’s Vinny, my ex-boyfriend,” this lady mobster once said to her love interest as they sat in a restaurant. “He’s going to poison your food.”

Eat up!

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