Well this is it, folks. Curtains. This column is the final
journalistic exploit of my undergraduate career, and it marks the end of my
three semesters at The Badger Herald.

Instead of spouting my usual claptrap about eating locally
or not being terrified of carbohydrates, I decided there would be no better way
to close my career at the Herald than with a last meal. Since my friends have
defined my college career, I decided I would ask them for their hypothetical
last meal menus instead of simply reciting my own. What they came up with says
a lot not only about food, but about the kind of people they are and who they
care about.

Enjoy.

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Josh Herman, Junior

Because I love restaurant samplers, and because I don’t have
to worry about gas, my cholesterol or grease stains on my shirt during my last
meal, I’ve decided to create what I’ll call the “ethnic sampler.” It
would include some traditional Mexican fare — a steak burrito at Qdoba or a
chalupa at Taco Bell. Accompanying this would be a small sample of
Mediterranean Cafe’s shwarma plate and a side of chicken fried rice, the really
greasy stuff. I would wash this down with a good, hearty local brew, like a
Capitol Brewery Wisconsin Amber or New Glarus Fat Squirrel. For dessert, I
would have a chocolate cheesecake and an obscenely large pot of dark-roast
coffee. After a meal like that, no wonder it would be my last.

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Jen Rundquist, Junior

So hypothetically, I’m really sick, and this is going to be
the last time I’m going to consume food. I would gather up all my closest
friends and family, crank open the spigot on a box of Franzia and enjoy a meal.
My “last supper” would take place outside, during the summer with
tiki torches going and a straight-up ’90s-style boombox rockin’ the latest pop
music. I’d get some sushi catered in from Restaurant Muramoto on King Street.
Then we’d all chow down on some Chocolate Shoppe ice cream before I crossed
over. If fate gave me enough time, I might squeeze in a nightcap of Boone’s
Farm before leaving this world full, a little buzzed and completely happy.

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Kevin C. Clarke, Senior

After careful consideration, I decided my last meal would be
a simple cookout with all of my friends, and it would be about much more than
just the food. My friend Craig Mackenzie and I would grill up some
cheeseburgers and hot dogs over an open-faced barrel grill on the Kronshage
Hall grounds. In addition to these grilled delights, we would serve plenty of
chips, baby carrots and Coors Light. We would also offer non-edible necessities
like paper towels, Frisbee, bags, flip-cup and a stereo blasting favorites such
as Journey and Marvin Gaye.

At the end of the meal I would set a Dumpster on fire by
pouring the hot coals into it. We would warm our hands by the fire as we wolfed
down a homemade dessert from Molly Schneider.

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Tricia Kennedy, Senior

My last meal would be a restaurant crawl with my sisters,
parents and friends. We would march our way from the state Capitol Building all
the way to Lake Mendota as we filled our bellies with some of Madison’s finest
fare. Miraculously, every one of these restaurants would offer free margaritas
on the rocks in sugar-rimmed glasses.

I would kick off the night with cheese curds at the Old
Fashioned. They are the best in Madison and a true joy to eat with good
friends.

Then my dinner mates and I would move onto Buraka for a
plate of vegetarian stew with injera bread. I discovered this dish late in my
college career, but it is definitely a must. As Mr. Engelhart would most
certainly agree, ripping the injera apart with one’s hands and introducing it
to the lonely sauce left on the plate produces one of the tastiest parts of any
meal at Buraka.

We would finish off our journey with two scoops of Babcock
Hall ice cream — one of chocolate peanut butter and one of orange custard
chocolate chip — at the Memorial Union Terrace.

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Liz Koehn, Senior

After hours of wracking my brain to come up with the best
bill of fare for my last meal, I decided on a long menu of foods I find comfort
in because of the people they remind me of.

Because my meal would take most of a day, I would quench my
thirst with my favorite daytime beverage, Mountain Dew, and my favorite evening
beverage, strawberry-banana daiquiris.

The solid portion of my final meal would start off with
chips and salsa, a family favorite, and some sort of fruit dish, just to get
all of the healthy stuff out of the way early. I would then move on to the main
course… well, courses. Barbecued ribs would lead the charge; they have always
held a special place in my heart ever since my high school years of spending
hours at Damon’s eating and playing trivia. After the ribs, I would have
chicken tenders and fries, which are so good they require no justification or
explanation.

Before I entered the impending food coma and died, I would
shovel down two of my favorite desserts — turtle cheesecake and my aunt’s
pistachio dessert. The last of these is so spectacular that its absence at a
family Christmas celebration once caused an uproar. It has never been off the
menu since, and there is no way I could leave it off mine.

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Appesh Mohandas, Senior

I think Carl Sandburg was really on to something in the poem
“Happiness,” in which he claims he found the meaning of life in a
“crowd of Hungarians under the trees with/ their women and children and a
keg of beer and an/ accordion.”

The best meals I have had have been notable not particularly
for the food that I ate, but rather the people I ate with. For example, at the
end of my freshman year I went to Frida Mexican Grill with about twenty
friends, and while the chimichangas?gave us fiery indigestion it was the
friends who provided the warmth. Whether it consists of a burrito, a plate of
pad lao or some injera, a truly special meal is not the result of a taste on
the tongue, but the smiles on the faces around the table.

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Mary Brannen, Alumna

For my last supper on Earth, despite being raised Catholic,
I’d probably avoid the whole “body and blood” thing for dinner.
Instead, I would opt for the most delicious foods on the planet, all of which
happen to be available right here in Madison.

I would begin with chips and salsa, which despite its
simplicity is the greatest appetizer ever invented. This would give way to a
heaping plate of Vientiane Palace’s chicken pad lao (with one star on the
spiciness scale). The brown sugar in this dish lends it a unique flavor light-years
away from the more familiar pad thai.

I would wash down my oodles of noodles with Lambrusco, an
inexpensive, sweet, sparkling Italian red wine.

Before I shuffled off this mortal coil, I would enjoy a
scoop of pink bubble gum ice cream, a food that reminds me of sunshine and the
happiness of my years in Madison and elsewhere.

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After reading all of these entries, I was inspired to come
up with a last meal menu of my own. Mine would be a picnic held during August
on the shores of Lake Minnetonka in Excelsior, Minn.

My guests and I would take in a baseball game in the
air-conditioned comforts of the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis during the
afternoon. Then we’d head west to enjoy good food and one another’s company in
the sticky heat of the late Minnesota summer. We would feast on my aunt Dona’s
famous “pickle things,” margherita pizza made by my brothers,
Minnesota sweet corn, ice-cold fresh watermelon, my grandma’s potato salad and
San Diego-style fish tacos made with walleye my Dad and I had caught early that
morning. I would also have pitchers upon pitchers of my grandmother’s fresh
lemonade, a cooler full of Diet Coke and a keg each of 1919 root beer and
Capitol Brewery Wisconsin Amber. For dessert, my guests would have a choice of
my mother’s angel pie with macerated raspberries or her pecan pie, served a la
mode with frozen custard from Adele’s in Excelsior.

To all my contributors, my family and everyone else who
would join me for this last meal, I love you very much. Thank you for
everything you have ever given me, and I look forward to many meals to come
with all of you.

And remember, they’re not empty calories if they are full of
joy.

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Jason Engelhart is a senior majoring in economics and
history. Send your final pieces of hate mail to
[email protected]