So who else watched the Werner Herzog Death Row documentary on Channel 4? Me, obviously. Not just because I have an unhealthy fascination with serial killers but because I am morbidly interested in what people choose as their final meal. Surprisingly, the programme didn’t really hone in on this crucial topic. It dealt with, y'know, the more pressing matters of what crime had been committed and inmate’s thoughts, feelings and such like. Pffft, just tell me in minute detail what you want to eat!
I feel vindicated in my food obsession when I think of the whole practice of a final supper. Prisoners aren’t asked ‘What song would you like to listen to? What TV programme? What sport would you like to play?’ They go back to basics, to the root of satisfaction, to the ultimate primal urge… food.
Creepily, I have put a lot of thought into what my final meal would be. It has changed over time. In my early teens it was a salt and sugar fest. A loaded burger with every topping you could imagine – enough cheese to finish off a small dog, bacon, bbq sauce, nachos on the side, onion rings, thick greasy fries, helped down by a lard ridden milkshake and some sort of doughnut fest for afters. I was in the stage of being brainwashed by too much American TV (blame Nickelodeon), my favourite being 'Kenan and Kel' and therefore my idea of what was a normal consumption of burgers was drastically modified. As I grew into my late teens and became more health conscious my final supper plans became more sophisticated. I wanted Italian artisan style breads, with antipasti platters and sorbets to cleanse my palette. My empathetic side must have been developing as I realised most people on death row probably felt pretty nervous and therefore smaller portions sizes would be better so they could snack, dwell, snack, vomit with fear, snack.
As I near my mid-twenties, my death row meal has changed again. I want the salt hits again but in the more mature form of a rich sauce to accompany a decadent duck dish, with some heavily garlicked potatoes, I want a cheese course and I want the strongest heaviest cheeses with biscuits that pack about 500 calories a bite as they’re so butter laden. Then for the grand finale – my dream dessert. You’re probably imagining some sort of Guinness World Record size Scone Monster. But no, my ultimate fantasy pudding is a melt in the middle chocolate pudding. It all began with that M&S advert. It was back in 2005, 01:42 on this clip - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4jvF9Q2QC0 . That advert, according to Wikipedia – “led to a remarkable 3,000% rise in chocolate pudding sales, something that has not recurred since”. It was one powerful symbol, a fork gently but decidedly ploughing through the centre of a moist, slightly wobbling chocolate pudding to unleash a warm river of chocolate goo whose force pulls in the dollop of cream that is resting on top and they mix together to become the most formidable of combinations. It was an oddly sexual image, a chocolate volcano of epic proportions, and it seemed to grip the nation. Zombie like chocolate lust took over the UK and we just couldn’t consider anywhere but M&S for that filthy chocolate hit. This image has had a profound effect on me and when I succumb wholeheartedly to my food fantasies (often on a Sunday afternoon when I’m losing interest in a book/film/conversation) I just let that image wash over me. I personally don’t think I would have been quite as courageous as that lucky fork holder in the advert. I would probably have tentatively poked a hole in the top to see if it really was the right consistency of gooey inside and then scooped a half forkful up and nibbled slowly to savour the taste … then thrown caution to wind, picked up momentum, finished it in 2 minutes and then spent 20 minutes rolling about on the sofa going ‘I’m soo full.. but it was gooood… but I’m fulll’. Pathetic I know but I am predictable.
Anyway.. that would be my death row pudding.
For those of you who are interested in what actual people on death row have had for their final meals, visit this website - http://www.ranker.com/list/top-10-most-elaborate-final-meals-in-death-row-history/john-barryman. Robert Dale Conklin’s choices are interesting. John Wayne Gacy – a serial killer who has fascinated me for a while because he dressed up as a clown (and I have a fear of clown outfits) so he became SUPER scary serial killer material - decided he wanted a pound of strawberries. Odd. However for the majority of cases; burgers, pizzas, fried chicken and fizzy drinks feature heavily. Hmm does fast food cause murderous tendencies!? Could this be a blog post!? Probably involves basing what I say in actual science... so maybe not.
http://m.guardian.co.uk/ms/p/gnm/op/sXzNSjPONVGr5iLRAfqL-dQ/view.m?id=15&gid=artanddesign/gallery/2012/apr/27/photography-death-row-last-meals&cat=most-read - another website just brought to my attention with morbid pictures of death row last meals.