December 5, 2013

5 Famous Dead People I’d Like to Have Dinner With & What I Would Serve.

I love feeding people, all sorts of people for all sorts of reasons.

Here are five souls I’d like to have sitting around my table for a few hours one night—they just happen to be deceased.

1) Jesus

Everyone wants to have dinner with Jesus, except maybe Judas, but  if he liked, he could swing by for dessert afterwards and discuss his mistakes over a glass of Prosecco.

What would I serve Jesus?

I know he wouldn’t be picky, gladly accepting whatever I had to offer, and I also know that the last proper meal he had was The Last Supper, which would be pretty hard to measure up to (not that he’d be judging), so I think I’d go with simple fare; loaves of bread, fish and wine.

Sure, those are predictable choices, but I’d want Jesus to feel comfortable. So, more specifically, perhaps a good sourdough, roasted trout served on a bed of fresh tarragon with a little squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil, and an unpretentious table wine, maybe something from the Italian Alps.

2) Anais Nin

I love Anais Nin, she was sensual and bold during a time when women were expected to put up and shut up. She reminds me of Frieda Kahlo, another love, and in fact, I’d like to offer up this meal to both of them.

People think Nin was French, but she was born to Spanish Cuban parents and raised in France, and of course, Kahlo was Mexican. That heritage, combined with their, no doubt—lusty appetites, gets me thinking tapas.

I imagine setting a table with a blood red cloth and silver candelabras dripping with old candle wax. We would have ceviche, deviled eggs, chorizo braised in sherry, firm, fat olives with the pits still in so we could chew on them speculatively, fresh anchovies, bread in sticks the size and shape of knitting needles, marinated tomatoes, garlic cloves and artichoke hearts and wheels of the best Manchego cheese.

This meal would be washed down—not with Sangria, but with whiskey, and the room would be filled with the smoke of a thousand cigarettes.

3) John F. Kennedy (and all the deceased Kennedys who care to partake)

I chose Kennedy, not so much for the historical interest, though that is compelling, but for his Nantucket connection. I too, hail from the East coast, and whipping up a big mess of Massachusetts comfort food for someone who can really appreciate it makes me happy. Plus, since he hasn’t (presumably) had it in a while, it would taste extra delicious.

On the menu; A classic clam bake. There’s nothing quite as grand as filling a big pot up with lobster, potatoes, white wine, kielbasa, shrimp, corn and of course, clams and letting it bubble and boil it’s way to succulent deliciousness.

Along with the main dish, we would have New England clam chowder with a pinch of saffron to smarten it up, grilled swordfish kebabs speared with bay leaves, and raw Blue Points piled on mountains of crushed ice with just a dab of extra spicy cocktail sauce.

Despite the Kennedy reputation for being American royalty, I would insist we eat on picnic benches with citronella candles to keep those pesky mosquitoes at bay, and drink “Newkie Brown” aka Newcastle Brown Ale, which, though not from the colonies, does hail from England, and as such, should appeal to his ancestral self.

4) Chris Farley (and Phil Hartman)

It’s not often that you find Chris Farley and Jesus on the same list, but I’m a rule breaker like that.

Why Chris Farley? Well, obviously he likes to eat and also obviously, he’s insanely funny and seems like he’d be about the easiest person in the history of dinner parties to cook for. Phil Hartman has to come to keep Chris occupied while I’m slinging food, and also because I just really miss him. With all the characters he does, he’d be as good as 10 or 20 guests.

Farley and Hartman both achieved great fame and fortune during their too-short lifetimes, and as such, were doubtlessly treated to meals the likes of which I can’t even imagine. As with the last Supper, I wouldn’t even try to compete.

I’m going with a pizza party. This party would happen at my house, in front of the TV. We’d have Chicago deep dish and New York pie, with ice cream sundaes for dessert. For drinks, 2 liter bottles of Coke and shots of Quervo, no salt or lime. And if I catch anyone in the bathroom doing blow, don’t worry, I won’t tell.

5) Geoffrey Chaucer

I’m a writer, so this list wouldn’t be complete without a literary figure, and Shakespeare seems too obvious. Plus, if Chaucer’s in the house, there will be mead, which I’ve never tried, but suspect I would like.

Chaucer was born in England in the mid 1300’s into a well-to-do family, and spent time in both Italy and France. He was accustomed to the finer things, and I would’t want to disorient him.

I envision a grand feast complete with stuffed goose, roasted quail and rabbit. I have never cooked any of these things, but for Chaucer, I will—as long as I find someone to hunt them fairly and in the wild. I don’t think the taste of a farm raised animal would sit well on a 14th century nobleman’s palate.

To start, a fine broth, just to warm the belly, and then an intermezzo of apple sorbet, which would be quite novel given Chaucer’s lack of familiarity with refrigeration. We would have hunks of rustic bread to sop up savory juices and for dessert, plain fruit as a counterpoint to all the rich food.

As we dine, I will pick the great man’s brain about this quote I found in a 15th century cookbook; “Take halfe a chykonys & putte hem in-to a porte, then putt there-to a gode gobet of freysshe Beef & lat hem boyle wyl: putt there-to Percely, sawge, leuys, saurey, noyt to small hakkyd.”

It’s doubtful I’ll ever get a chance to indulge in my culinary fantasies, but it never hurts to dream.

And who knows, maybe there exists a plane on which people from across the ages can meet and sit, eat and drink and compare notes about the pleasures of the tongue.


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Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: Flickr/Chris Booth





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