Thursday 31 January 2013

Elizabeth David on Death Row

In Elizabeth David's French Provincial Cooking (1960) the author reports an episode originally recorded in George Musgrave's A Ramble Through Normandy (1855):

He watched a couple (on their honeymoon, he thought) on board the river steamer at Rouen consuming a midday meal of soup, fried mackerel, beefsteak, French beans and fried potatoes, an omelette fines herbes, a fricandeau of veal with sorrel, a roast chicken garnished with mushrooms, a hock of ham served upon spinach. There followed an apricot tart, three custards, and an endive salad, which were the precursors of a small roast leg of lamb, with chopped onion and nutmeg sprinkled upon it. Then came coffee and two glasses of absinthe, and eau dorée, a Mignon cheese, pears, plums, grapes and cakes. Two bottles of Burgundy and one of Chablis were emptied between eleven and one o’clock.

If I ever find myself on Death Row and  invited to choose a last meal I think this would do for me as a pre-oblivion blow-out.  Or at least what Musgrave calls 'the precursors', up to but not including the endive salad. Things seem to start all over again with that 'small roast leg of lamb' so I'd opt simply for black coffee and a digestif  before taking the long walk, enjoying a final, guiltless, high tar cigarette.

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