A Dinner to Die For

By Luci


Suppose it is the end of the world and you can eat one final food – what would it be? Why not throw a dinner party with that theme? Ask your guests to name their choice of a final food. But, in order to cover all courses with different kinds of foods, limit each guest to a particular category such as fish, fowl, vegetable, etc. You may then design a menu around their choices or ask each guest to come with their dish prepared appropriately. You don’t need an end-of-the-world prediction. Make it the last meal of astronauts on terra firma before a two-year stint on the space station or what you would take to a desert island. However you do it, the evening is guaranteed to be lively, entertaining and possibly, downright hilarious.


I first did the dinner on 12/21/12, the date the Mayan calendar predicted the end of the world. I asked different guests to name a food in different categories: seafood, fowl, meat, starch or grain, vegetable, fruit, dessert. For some categories, I asked more than one guest for their choice. Don’t be afraid of bizarre choices. For a choice of meat, one guest said “hot dogs”and the other said “Beef Wellington.” I gasped!! But what a hit!!! Served together, hot dogs and all their fixings along with an extremely elegant Beef Wellington provoked riotous laughter and wonderful conversation.


Add additional touches as appropriate. Since this “end of the world” was based on the Mayan calendar and Mexicans celebrate with piñatas in mid-December, I hung a large black piñata in the shape of a parrot and filled it with candy. The evening ended with guests taking turns swinging at it with the stick that accompanies the piñata, trying hard to miss the other guests as the stick bounced off Mr. Parrot. Finally it broke open with a shower of colorful candy for guests to take home. Use your imagination for a fitting finish to the evening’s end.


The dinner was a huge success. With some heavy-duty pondering, guest’s requests were fitted to a written menu meant to amuse. It was printed on gold paper placed inside 8½ by 11 black card stock folded in the middle, the outside flecked with gold paint. Please note the pun in the title of the menu, “Fare Well.” 


THE END OF THE WORLD

FARE WELL MENU

A Feast of Foods To Die For









TO START

Let’s toast to a happy hereafter with

Champagne

And celebrate the earth’s bounty from land & sea & air

Shrimp Cocktail

Pheasant Sausage with Parmesaned Crème fraîche

Smoked Duck with Caramelized Pear

To end our start, let’s finish with life’s vital force

Heart Beat Soup with Bloody Beets


TO END

You will need burial garments and casket

Nathan’s Dog in Blanket of Bun

Wellington’s Tenderloin in Pall of Puff Pastry

Coffin to Inter Pomme de Terre

Plus a final resting place

Cemetery Salad & Deadly Drizzle

After your death by pie

Apple and Pecan Pie with Pralines ‘n Cream Ice Cream


These are the food categories given to guests and their choices.

APPETIZERS

Seafood

Shrimp cocktail. Purchase or prepare shrimp. Purchase a cocktail sauce (we like Heinz original); add a little light cream and some finely chopped thyme. Put a funny face on each shrimp with eyes and mouth of cloves or black peppercorns.

Fruit and Fowl 

Kabob of smoked duck and caramelized pear. Make or purchase smoked or roasted duck and cut into small chunks. Cut Bosc pears into same-size chunks; sauté in butter with small amounts of light brown sugar, cinnamon and ground coriander until edges are brown. Skewer the duck and pear together on an attractive pick.

Meat

Sausage. Pheasant sausage with parmesaned* crème fraîche. Purchase pheasant or other sausage. Cut into coins and  top with a dollop of crème fraîche blended with grated parmesan cheese.

*I believe this neologism is justified because we add parmesan cheese to many things because it beefs up taste with its umami character.

SOUP

Vegetable

Beets. Make a soup with roasted beets, a few aromatics (celery, onion) sautéed in a generous amount of butter, and a good, home-made chicken stock). Garnish with fried sage leaves or sour cream.

MAIN

Meat

Hot Dog with Fixin’s. Nathan’s hot dogs on bun with mustard and relish.

Meat

Beef Wellington. The perfect contrast to hot dogs is this elegant preparation of beef tenderloin covered with a thin layer of mushroom paté, all encased in puff pastry. Make or purchase.

Starch or Grain

Baked potato (Fr. – pomme de terre). Make it look like a part-open coffin with person inside. Cut the baked potato lengthwise about 2/3 up from the bottom, reserving both shells. Scoop the flesh from the shells and mix with butter, sour cream and goat cheese. Stuff the bottom shell with this mixture, mounding one end higher to suggest a head. For the lid of the “coffin,” cut off 1/3 of the upper shell with scissors for the open part where the raised “head” is. Cover the stuffed bottom shell with the remaining 2/3 of the upper shell. Add green pepper “eyes” and red pepper “mouth” to the “head.”

SALAD

Salad greens

Baby arugula. Make a “cemetery” salad: Spread chopped baby arugula in a thin layer on a large rectangular platter. Peel apples, then cut thick longitudinal slices (one for each guest) and trim them to resemble gravestones. With a sharp knife trace on different slices a cross, star of David, or RIP. Stand the apple slices up in the arugula. They will stand nicely if the bottom of each slice is fairly thick. For the deadly drizzle (aka dressing): sherry vinegar and walnut oil.

DESSERTS

Pastry

Apple pie. Make or buy your favorite. I mixed apple slices with cinnamon, coriander and a touch of cardamom, added pecans and dotted the pie generously with butter before baking.

Dairy  Dessert

Pralines ’n Cream Ice Cream. That’s an easy one. Just buy it.






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