20 June 2020

Weekend Cooking: One Last Lunch, ed. by Erica Heller

Review of One Last Lunch, edited by Erica HellerHere’s a book that has a little something for everyone--not only us foodies but also anyone who dreams about having "A Final Meal with Those Who Meant So Much to Us."

One Last Lunch, edited by Erica Heller, is a collection of about 50 short pieces written by chefs, actors, writers, comedians, and more as well as friends and relatives of well-known late-celebrities. The concept is simple, a variety of people were asked to imagine they had one last meal with someone who meant a lot to them or who influenced them.

If you had been asked, whom would you invite to lunch? What would you talk about? Where would you eat? What would you eat?

I wasn't too surprised by the number of people who wrote about meals with immediate family, for example, Erica Heller and Kirk Douglas wrote about their fathers and Malachy McCourt and Rick Moody wrote about their siblings. Others imaged meals with their mentors (Sara Moulton chose Julia Child), friends (Richard Lewis picked Jonathan Winters), and acquaintances (Bob Balaban picked Groucho Marx).

For me, One Last Lunch is the kind of book to read piecemeal and out of order. I started with names I recognized, either the person writing the story (Caroline Leavitt, Kirk Douglas, Benjamin Cheever) or the person invited to lunch (Paul Newman, Marcella Hazan, Lou Reed). Some stories are about a real lunch and some about an imagined meal; some pieces are essays, some are plays, and some are lists; all are short, intimate, and engaging.

Food and drink, of course, play a big part in the essays, but so do conversation, memory, and thoughts about the afterlife. One Last Lunch will make you think and will make you smile and cry.

Thanks so much to the Abrams Dinner Party for sending me a copy. I’ve read maybe a third of the pieces and am looking forward to the rest.

Shared with Weekend Cooking, hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader (and Baker)


rhapsodyinbooks 6/20/20, 6:27 AM  

This sounds great. One of my favorite stories is about MLK Jr. planning what he wanted for supper although he was killed before he could have it, and it's a great story (retold by Taylor Branch in "At Canaan's Edge"). Thus I know it would be fun to read the stories both real and imagined in this book. Thanks for writing about it; I hadn't known about it!

Mae Travels 6/20/20, 6:46 AM  

Wondering: who would you choose? I would want to eat with Julia Child!

be well... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Tina 6/20/20, 7:37 AM  

What a wonderful concept for a book. That is one I would also read out of order. Off to check the library again! You always turn me on to the coolest books.

gluten Free A_Z Blog 6/20/20, 8:00 AM  

Certainly a very intriguing idea and though provoking. I would choose my kids and grandkids.. Sounds like an interesting read. Thanks Beth

Jackie McGuinness 6/20/20, 8:27 AM  

I'm off to the library as well to find this!

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 6/20/20, 9:03 AM  

I hope I can find a copy of this book.

Deb in Hawaii 6/20/20, 12:05 PM  

I received this one but haven't delved into it yet so I'm glad to hear you are enjoying it. ;-)

Claudia 6/20/20, 12:10 PM  

I immediately thought of people I would invite! Reminds me of a book that came out awhile back, My Last Supper - 50 Great Chefs and their Final Meals. That included their dining companions of choice and location.

Marg 6/21/20, 6:30 AM  

This wounds like a really nice book to dip in and out of!

Laurie C 6/21/20, 9:00 AM  

Sounds like a nice collection! On Father's Day, I was already thinking of my father, of course, so I wonder what having one last meal with him would be like. I know we wouldn't waste any time talking about the food, no matter how delicious it was, because he was as far from a foodie as you could possibly be! :D

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