Famous Final Meals from Death Row
by Ty Treadwell
All the Right Ingredients
'Last Suppers: Famous Final Meals from Death Row' is one of those quirky books that will either turn your stomach or leave you hungry for more. Most of the condemned inmates requested uncomplicated meals that would never be listed in the Healthy Heart Cookbook. Little wonder. I can confirm the validity of Treadwell's research because I worked as a food consultant within the American Penal System for a number of years. It was during this time that I met a remarkable prisoner who should have featured in the book but didn't because it was published prior to his conviction. Carmine 'The Garrotting Gourmet' Rossi, convicted of strangling and dismembering a club DJ because he included a Neil Diamond record on his playlist, was a bon vivant who ingeniously turned his final meal request to his own advantage. Having shared cell-block recipes and degustation delights in San Quentin's Bistro Botulism, Carmine and I became friends, and in the evening prior to his sentence being carried out, he asked the Warden and me to share his last hours. The mood was sombre when we entered his dimly-lit cell and after discussing the weather and enquiring about Rossi's plans for the future, the Warden asked what he'd like for his final meal.
"I can have anything I want?" Carmine said.
"Sure you can," the Warden replied softly. "Every condemned man has that right."
On hearing this, Rossi smiled triumphantly, opened a recipe book he'd stolen from the prison library and said, "I want this. It's a Chinese dish… tofu with sesame oil and a hundred-year-old egg."
"But we don't have an egg that's one hundred years old," the Warden stated.
"Well you'd better start preparing one now 'cause I ain't goin' nowhere till I eat. So, Warden, tell the doctor to call back in about a century and Gordy, blow the candle out when youse two leave."
Rossi is now the prison's chief librarian and submits regular culinary articles to Penitentiary Petit Fors magazine.