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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Weekend Cooking- An Excerpt from The Execution of Noa P Singleton

This post is part of Beth Fish Reads' Weekend Cooking.  If you have anything related to food, cookbook reviews, novel or non-fiction book reviews, recipes, movie reviews, etc., head over to Beth Fish Reads and add your post. Or, if you want to read food related posts, head over to read what some interesting people have to say about food!

Elizabeth L. Silver's debut novel, The Execution of Noa P. Singleton, unravels the story of woman who has been on Death Row for ten years in Pennsylvania for the murder of a young woman and her unborn child. (My review is here.)

It's a dark tale, and the story is revealed in Noa's words and letters that the murdered woman's mother Marlene writes to her dead daughter. Slowly we find that things are not exactly as they appear to be, but can we trust either Noa or Marlene's words to be the truth?

We learn a lot about what it's like to live in prison, specifically on Death Row, and at the end of the story, Noa tells us about ordering her last meal. She wants to order hers from a fancy restaurant.
I'm pondering chicken parmesan, a thick New York strip steak (medium well), or a three-course meal from Le Bec Fin. Yes, if the system worked the way it should- truly granting us a proper last meal- then I would have someone get for me from Center City Philadelphia. After all, isn't that why we overspend at expensive restaurants? We want to feel good about ourselves, despite the fact that the food we are eating costs no more to make than a tightly sealed plastic carton of drumsticks from your local grocery store. We celebrate events at fancy restaurants; we introduce friends, future spouses, in-laws. We propose in them, we divorce in them. We tell our world we are pregnant in them. What we don't do in them is request our final meals. I mean, wouldn't we all go back those special-occasion restaurants if we knew it would be our final meal on the outside? Of course we would. We'd waste no time at KFC or McDonald's; we'd go straight for Stephen Starr or Gordon Ramsay and tea at the Plaza.
Noa also talks about what other inmates have ordered for their last meal.
Over the past few weeks, I've learned that one inmate requested steak with A.1 sauce, jalapeno poppers with cream sauce, onion rings, and a salad with cherry tomatoes, ham chunks, shredded cheese, bacon bits, and blue cheese and ranch dressing. Lemon iced tea and coffee to drink and ice cream for dessert. Another wanted four fried pork chops, collard greens with boiled okra and "boiling meat", fried corn, fried fatback, fried green tomatoes, conbead, lemonade, one pint of strawberry ice cream, and three glazed donuts. Others in coalescence: four buns with lots of butter, lots of salt, and two slices of banana bread. Nine tacos, nine enchiladas, french fries, a salad with ranch dressing, beef fajitas, a bowl of picante sauce, a bowl of shredded cheese, six jalapeno peppers, a strawberry cake with strawberry frosting, and there it is, the sixteen Pepsis. 
This is my favorite, though. One man, who had no final request, asked that a vegetarian pizza be purchased and donated to a homeless person for his his last meal. The prison officials refused. 
I enjoy reading books and finding passages that fit in the Weekend Cooking meme, but I have to say that this was a first for me- reading about inmates' last meals. Maybe I find this interesting because my dad worked at a maximum security prison for many years.

Have you read any non-food books that had interesting food passages in them? Let me know in comments.


  1. Wow. As I'm reading those passages, I'm thinking if I knew that was it, my very last meal, would I even be able to eat. Not sure....

  2. I'm with Paula -- I was thinking that I would likely have no appetite. I wonder what I'd want if I knew it was my last.

  3. That's definitely an unusual topic for Weekend Cooking! The last meal is a really odd tradition when you think of it.

    1. I did think it was a unique topic for Weekend Cooking, and it is a strange tradition.

  4. Interesting and unusual topic! I have to admit I was annoyed to hear they refused to donate the pizza. Talk about uncalled-for narrow mindedness.

  5. Well, I've never contemplated my last meal, but I agree with Paula, too... not sure I'd be able to even eat it!

    It's fun to find food passages in novels.

  6. Yep, really weird idea. And why on earth would the authorities run around to get special food together?? One of life's many mysteries

  7. The excerpts are very good, very detailed. What an interesting book...I had not heard of it before. One of the many things I love about weekend cooking, being introduced to new books, foods and ideas.

  8. I have this book up on deck here. Now I'm looking forward to it all the more.

  9. Great quotes - the book sounds really good!

  10. Wow, I don't know if I could eat either, but I guess after years and years of prison food, I might want one last taste of old favorite foods.