One of the quaint rituals of our criminal justice system is that we generally give prisoners facing death the right to choose their last meal. With roots in superstition (symbolized forgiveness that would prevent the condemned man’s ghost returning), religion (an echo of the Last Supper) and guilt, the tradition has a peculiar hold on our imaginations.
Last meals can range from the ordinary (Virginia murder Teresa Lewis’ fried chicken, buttered peas, apple pie and Dr. Pepper) to the symbolic (Iowa kidnap/murderer Victor Fegurer requested a single olive with pit in the hope it would grow into an olive tree), to the downright silly (Velma Barfield’s bag of Cheez Doodles and Coca-Cola). One last meal entered culinary history: the Hangtown fry. A condemned man is said to have requested this omelet as his last meal in the hopes of holding on to a few more days of life because eggs and oysters—exceedingly rare in Gold Rush-era California—had to be shipped 150 miles from San Francisco to Hangtown (Placerville).
With the onset of Comic-Con I wondered what certain superheroes, if captured by villians, would ask for as their last meal? Here are some speculations:
Aquaman would definitely not ask for fish tacos. And ceviche would be out.
Demon-spawn half-blood Hellboy explores the nurture-nature debate. Is his true character good, sweet and mild (as he was raised by adopted father Trevor Bruttenholm) or is it that of his blood (half demon and half witch)? Befitting this central issue, Hellboy’s last meal would almost have to be sweet and sour pork.
In Spiderman 3, Peter Parker—the world’s first teenage superhero—pretty much turned emo. As such maybe his last meal would have been the tears of children, or a bag of chips. Frankly, eating is probably just too damned much work for an emo teen who just wants to go in the corner and cut himself.
V from V for Vendetta. V also stands for “vegan,” or at least “vegetarian,” and might well order a Portobello mushroom mousse, one like Amanda Cohen’s from Dirt Candy in New York. Of course given V’s Guy Fawkes visage—and heritage—wouldn’t there have to be an explosive element to his last meal? Maybe the fennel compote Cohen pairs with her mushroom mousse could be done, with a little molecular gastronomy magic, such as pop rocks.
Considering Tank Girl’s punk nature, the fact she frequently finds herself in trouble for random acts of sex, and the fact her boyfriend is a mutant kangaroo, it would stand to reason her last meal would combine all of these: kangaroo meat Thai’d down in a blazing hot green curry sauce.
The darkness of Caped Crusader Batman, the Dark Knight, is as inseparable from his secret identity as billionaire magnate Bruce Wayne. His last meal would surely reflect that duality. It would have to be something rich, dark and not unlike Mario Batali’s signature beef cheek ravioli dish at Babbo. But maybe Batman would want it taken another step with the ravioli made of squid ink pasta—what could be darker—and the black truffles replaced by righteous white ones.
I’m no superhero, but I’d be happy with that as my last meal on this planet.