Wednesday, April 25, 2007

the last supper

having just been to the holocaust exhibition at the imperial war museum had put our bible study group in a rather introspective mood, and on our way to surrey quays on the bus, we started chatting about what we'd like to have as our last meal. in roald dahl's cookbook, dahl includes a whole chapter "hangman's supper", detailing the last meal wishes from inter alios p.d.james, francis bacon and john le carre.

last meal choices usually veer along two main themes - comfort or extravagance. some want to spend their last meals parktaking of victuals which comfort them and remind them of safety, cosiness, log fires and a warm duvet. others prefer michelin starred luxury. i went for the luxury option in the end during our bus ride (and for the record i thought it wasn't fair because i wasn't allowed to choose an amuse bouche, first course, pre-desert, bread basket, apertif, wines for each course, or coffee and petit fours - only one main and desert). i am indecisive at best of times and such a choice in reality would probably have taken me a month to construct a first draft. the short bus ride didn't afford me the luxury of pondering time. i did however, remember two vastly different meals i had in singapore last month with one of my fondest mates M, memories of which i constructed my final feast.

my last meal de luxe would have been like our lunch at iggy's. specifically the strip of wagyu beef which had been seared to medium rare perfection and served with a side of spinach. each mouthful of juicy, marbled beef goodness brought complete ecstasy - the type which made you close your eyes and groan in pleasure because you know it can't be good for your arteries. i chose for my hypothetical final desert, a pear tarte tartin with vanilla ice cream, but at iggy's, they didn't have pear tart, so i went for their vanilla panna cotta with basil ice-cream and sundried tomatoes, which did sound a little odd, but was pleasantly surprised. the ice-cream had a just a hint of basil, so it tasted more herb garden than pesto, and the caramelised sundried tomatoes were like little wisps of cranberry which added a nice chewy foil against the softness of the panna cotta and the creaminess of the ice-cream. i had started my meal with squid ink cappellini with baby octopus which was beyond yummy but had the annoying trait of leaving us with rather black lips. M had gone for the tasting menu which included a lovely dish of sakura ebi over angel hair pasta.

had i chosen the comfort option that day, i would have gone for bak chor mee pok. this is a dish, ONLY to be found in singapore. the malaysian peninsula proffers up some close clones, they are but impostors of this noodle dish as it exists in singapore. bak chor mee pok is a hawker dish of teochew origins which literally means minced pork flat noodles - it is simply blanched egg noodles dressed with black chinese vinegar, chilli paste, soya sauce, oil and a splash of stock and topped with poached minced pork, pork balls, a fried dumpling, slices of liver, shards of fried lard and served with a bowl of anchovy and pork stock which has been simmered for days. M ate hers dressed with ketchup which i thought was a travesty. my dad passed his affection for this dish to me, and introduced me to his favourite stalls and while we do share the love of this noodley nirvana - where we do differ is our opinion on which mee pok man is the best. we just so happen to live where within a 3 mile radius of our house is in public opinion, 3 of the best mee pok men in singapore and i have fond growing-up memories of ringing my parents on their mobiles beseeching them to bring a packet of this home for dinner, eating them out of the polythene bag they were packed in, not bothering with the fuss of proper bowls, conscious that if i had delayed consumption, the noodles would tip past their prime state and that perfect point of peace that comes from eating these noodles would be lost. it was all very important. this dish to me, reminds me of the simple fact that my parents love me, because each time i go back to singapore, my dad gets me a pack of mee pok on his way home to combat my jetlag munchies (and usually a pack for himself too). to die with the certainty that one is loved, that is a good thought to die with.

because i am certain of where i'm going after i die (not because of who i am, but only because of what Christ has done for me), i know that my last meal will be a joyful one - not filled with fear, or uncertainty, or frustration. i'm certain i'm going to be spending eternity in heaven and i'm sure the culinary fare there (if any) will consistently be perfect.. i suppose, in the grand scheme of things, it won't really matter exactly what i'm eating.for my last meal as long as it's a happy meal with people i love and it doesn't involve brussel sprouts.


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