A couple of Sundays ago I read an on-line article by Anna Stoessinger. Anna is a writer who works in advertising and who, at the age of 36 was diagnosed with stomach cancer. When she received her diagnosis, she immediately thought about dying young and missing out on a half century of life with her new husband. After chemotherapy she received the news that she would have to have all of her stomach and part of her esophagus removed. Anna and her husband embarked on a 10 day journey of last meals before her surgery. Mostly they dined on gourmet things I hadn’t tried (or couldn’t afford even if I was inclined). They dined with great gusto.
If I received news that I would be giving up my stomach and most food (she will be able to eat only very tiny amounts several times a day) I would concern myself, of course, with dying young and not getting to live a long and happy life with my Sweet Cheeks. But, honestly, I’d be pissed about the meals I was going to miss. Although I am not a gourmand, by any means, I do love good food. So I thought about some of the meals that I would like to have in my final eating days.
I would start with a pecan roll from the Cops and Doughnuts bakery in Clare, Michigan. It is a real place, I am not making this up. I had a pecan roll there – my granddaughter had the freshly baked cinnamon roll. Each was roughly the size of my head and I nearly wept with joy at the first bite. I would drink several cups of their fresh stong coffee, joke around with their friendly staff, and move on.
I would have to have barbecue – lots of it. I smoke some meats at home but for my final dinners I would go to Texas for brisket and red hots, Kansas City for ribs, and North Carolina for pulled pork.
I would have seafood – lots of it. Grilled halibut, blue crabs, grouper, and some crispy bluegill fillets. I would need crab cakes and broiled shrimp. And I would have to try raw oysters – because it would be my last chance. I would have ceviche and smoked salmon.
I would have my favorite soups – my own killer chili, fresh clam chowder, my gumbo, and roasted red pepper soup.
I would have butternut squash, creamed spinach and sweet corn. I would eat dark sweet cherries and drink apple cider and eat fresh blueberries by the pint.
I would have chocolate, of every shade and fat content. Butter pecan ice cream, and amaretto cherry ice cream. And just because they are my favorite guilty pleasure junk food – I would have Cheetos – the crunchy ones, not the wimpy baked puffy ones. But I would not waste many of my last bites on junk foods.
Food is an important part of our lives – it is more than nourishment – it is a part of the social fabric of our existence. From the baby shower held in our honor before we are born – to the requisite dinner after our funeral/wake/memorial service, every stage of our life is celebrated with food.
But given the choice of eating or spending years with my beloved, holding my grandchildren, and loving my sons – I would put on my big (well, they would certainly be bigger after all that food) girl panties and head for the hospital on the appointed day. And I would consider myself lucky, as did Anna.