A few years ago, when the great state of Texas published the "last meals" of its death-row inmates, I developed a morbid fascination with the final selections. And, being Texas, there were plenty of menus to peruse.
Alas, the site was discontinued, but my obsession with last meals continues. (The info. lives on at http://www.deadmaneating.com/dmearch.html)
In the last two weeks, I've consumed more than my share of "last meals" before my intense chemo protocol begins. My friend Melanie, a nurse in the hematology department at the City of Hope, warns that I may develop an aversion to eating. Food will no longer be a pursuit and a pleasure.
My last meals have included tender filet mignon and succulent lobster at JJ's Steak House in Pasadena. Pizza with crust as thin and crisp as a cracker at La Maschera. Oolong marinated see bass with ginger soy at PF Changs.
But my favorite foods remind me of why I love Los Angeles: It's teeming with inexpensive but extraordinary ethnic foods that just aren't available in Ravenswood, West Virginia. Last weekend, I had one of my all-time favorites, Vietnamese spring rolls at the Golden Deli Restaurant in San Gabriel.
Jonathan Gold, the food critic for the LA Weekly, first immortalized this popular treat more than a dozen years ago in his LA Times "Counter Intelligence" column. Since then, hardly a year goes by when he doesn't mention the spring rolls.
The New York Times even waxed euphoric about these crispy creations:
For the uninitited, Vietnamese spring rolls come with a plate of crispy romaine lettuce, sliced cucumbers, fresh mint and bean sprouts. Wrap the roll in the lettuce, throw in the assorted veggies and dip in a fish sauce. The result is a heavenly blend of flavors and textures that's impossible to beat.
My Vietnamese manicurist believes that the Golden Deli is not the best and observes that "A lot of Caucasians eat there." But, truth be told, I can't imagine a better spring roll.
Cap it off with a cup of French-pressed coffee, and I could die a happy woman.
(If I have time, I'll share a few more of my favorite foods in pre-treatment blog posts. Please share yours with me too.)