Ordered by: Curtis Johnson
Date of Meal: 8/11/1992
Meal: Scrambled eggs, bacon, toast, jelly, butter and strawberry milkshake
Participants: Eric, Nikki, Mark (Meal 4), Jim
Clockwise from left: Eggs (1 doz), strawberries*, Haagen Dazs strawberry ice cream (1 pint), Tuscan whole milk (1/2 gallon), bread (1 loaf), Smuckers grape jelly, Breakstone’s whipped butter, bacon (about a pig’s ass worth), shredded sharp cheddar cheese*
*not part of original request
First, can we say how much we miss Kat? 3 meals already! I promise you, though, she’ll come back. This is like those sitcoms where one of the cast goes on maternity leave and they have to film around her while she’s gone. Ok, Kat’s definitely not pregnant—that was just an analogy. Not. Pregnant. In the meantime, my friend Nikki has been dying to guest host a meal, and she’s a fantastic cook, so I figured I would be the bigger person and let her.
To briefly introduce Nikki, I’ve been drinking with her and Ashish and a few other friends once a week for the past 3 years. It’s kind of incredible, really. Nikki has distinguished herself in the kitchen on multiple occasions—her family runs a kosher meat business, so she has actually cooked a bunch of bone-in rib-eyes for her Super Bowl parties. She is the definition of a gourmand, and loves her food, so the purpose of this blog was not lost on her. Of course, she’s also one of the most indecisive people imaginable, so for the last two weeks I’ve heard every day about each new meal she has selected to cook (and why). I guess since I know I’ll be eating all of them, I don’t ever have a preference. Anyway, I like when other people choose my food for me—whatever, I don’t have to explain myself. I just wanted to know what we would be eating. But even up to the eleventh hour (apropos) she was vacillating between steak, eggs, and meals with cigarettes, until I finally got her to settle on what drew her in with Mr. Johnson…but we’ll get to that.
When I showed up at Nikki’s place, I found that Mark (you’ll remember him as “The Octopus”) and she were excited about a phone call Nikki had received from a company telling her she “was guaranteed to have won” one of three grand prizes in a contest she didn’t remember entering. Now, by this point hopefully you all are thinking the same thing I was thinking: how can I pretend to be a Nigerian prince in the next week before this train runs out of gravy?? Nikki, however, was running around talking about how she probably won a 2011 Ford Explorer with a moon roof and Mark is telling her not to give the guy her bank account number or email address. Seriously guys, I’m not here to talk about white collar crime…
But we’ll get back to that, because there are a few other fish to fry.
You’ll notice a few things that seem a little off in the ingredients. I won’t even address the deviation from “prison brand”, since there have been a good number of words about that. No, let’s talk about cheese and strawberries. I don’t even think diners put strawberries in their strawberry milkshakes, let alone penal institutions. Mark’s justification was, “Well, I’m sure back in the day this is how they would have made it.” Right, back in 1992, when the world was a purer place. As for the cheese, I tried to put my foot down.
Eric: He didn’t even order cheese.
Nikki: He meant cheese when he said scrambled eggs. That’s how eggs come!
Eric: That is not true at all. Scrambled eggs come with just eggs. You have to ask for cheese, like the other prisoners have (cf. Vernon Sattiewhite, 8/15/1995). When you order eggs from a restaurant you have to pay extra for cheese, don’t you??
Yeah, I lost that battle, and here’s why:
If I’ve learned anything from this blog, you don’t argue with someone (guy, girl, whoever) who waves a knife as they talk.
And here’s the kicker. I offer to start cracking eggs and Nikki goes, “Is it ok if we put milk in the eggs?” Seriously? That’s where you’re worried about the rules? I ASTERISK You! Of course, when I say yes to milk, she says, “Ok, there’s Half n’ Half in the refrigerator.” Now let’s get back to Nikki’s cooking for a second.
Robert Frost’s most famous poem speaks of two roads and which he would program his TomTom to take. When it comes to Nikki and food, I’d say she chooses the one that’s more caloric. When the recipe calls for milk, use creamer. When the recipe calls for vegetable oil, use butter. When the recipe calls for butter, use some kind of rarefied hippo fat. All female readers, please take another look at the picture above and begin directing your death threats to @nicklespqd. Oh yeah, and she may have won an SUV. So I’m putting creamer in the eggs and feeling even worse that I skipped the gym. Meanwhile, Nikki thought that 2 lbs of bacon was probably enough for us, and she’s brown sugaring some of them (not to be factored in the meal, she gave me that much). And she bought whole milk. At this point I’m thinking this meal might actually be my last.
It may be sacrilege, but it looks amazing, right?
I’m going to stand by how I named this picture when I saved it to my computer: “Bacon Porn”
When it came to the milkshake, Nikki started getting the strawberries ready. Little did I know that this required cutting off about 30% of the strawberry, which she called “the bad part”.
I actually yelled at her, “Nikki, we’re in a recession! Unemployment’s at 10%! Give me those strawberry tops!”
Exhibit A. It’s like cooking with Marie Antoinette. I bet she uses a tissue and throws the box out because the tissues “hurt her nose when they’re not fresh.” Whatever Curtis Johnson did, nowhere near this egregious.
But yeah, it looks good.
The Octopus. It looks like he’s about to put it in the blender, but he actually just wound it up on a spoon and shoved it down his gullet.
At this point, Jim, Nikki’s fiancée, came home and declared, “There’s nothing as wholesome as watching two grown men in business casual making milkshakes.”
Your meal is served. Checkout is at twelve.
Jim, who works in media and has held contests, had to break it to Nikki that she was being scammed, to which she responded, “You mean you’re not going to let me go get my 2011 Ford Explorer? I’ll be so pimp! I’ll drive around and pick all of you guys up and drive you everywhere!” Note: she has a car now, and I don’t recall being picked up and even driven to one location. Honestly, I felt like I was in the middle of an “I Love Lucy” episode. Like, how many times do you think Nikki’s identity has been stolen? Will it enter the public domain by 2030, like “Happy Birthday”?
1. What do you think he did?
Jim: What else gets you the death penalty besides rape and murder? (Nothing, dude. Rape probably doesn’t do it, either) Ok, grand theft auto and murder. This screams car theft.
Mark: Cop killer.
Nikki: I think the strawberry milkshake means he got caught up with the wrong people and took the fall. He was a good kid at heart. (she followed this up with a long hypothetical story, but just imagined you asked Bhavi about this guy)
Eric: The milkshake makes me think he’s simple. I think he got angry and shot someone.
My guess turns out to have been the closest. The info wasn’t in our list, but Jim and his trusty google skills found out he had been burglarizing some place and shot someone. Apparently they found him and his accomplice holed up in a convenience store they were holding hostage (brilliant). When he died, he said he didn’t blame anyone for their part, and thanked his mom and aunt for supporting him. Maybe that was the strawberry milkshake talking, Nikki.
2. What are your first impressions?
Everyone really liked it. Even Jim, who isn’t a big breakfast for dinner fan. I’ve never really done breakfast for dinner too much, because I really like breakfast, but at the appointed breakfast hour. This felt like when you go to a diner at the end of a night of drinking, and you’re debating between getting eggs or disco fries. According to some Top Chef show I randomly saw in a previous season (I know, great citation), eggs are a huge specialty in Vegas, so I can see how this could be on someone’s last meal. Hell, in trying to find out about Curtis, I stumbled onto this blog that mentions him among other inmates as proof that some people think breakfast is the most important meal of the day. (9/10 death row inmates agree…)
3. How close is this to what you would have picked for your own last meal?
Jim: Not at all.
Eric: My problem isn’t the food. The food’s good, but when I’m eating my last meal I want a collection of different things. When I’m eating breakfast foods, I don’t want anything that isn’t breakfast-y.
Mark: I’d have been happy to share it with him, but I wouldn’t have ordered it myself.
Jim: Yeah, I’m sure he’d love that. ’Hey, you done with that?’
As with the preparation for the meal, Nikki has her own interpretation of how this question should be answered. She rattled off a list of all the things she would ask for, and I didn’t write any of them down. Fortunately, the day before she answered the same question (unprompted), and I should note that none of the two lists correspond. Do you see what I’m dealing with, here? The list (as dictated to me): ”chocolate chip banana pancakes, eggs over easy, brown sugar bacon, cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, onion and avocado, casear [sic] salad, fried whoopie pie (this just sounds dirty. Someone throw an entry up on Urban Dictionary and use my name in the sentence so I know I led to it), snoopy cake, and warm apple pie…no scratch that, strawberry rhubarb crisp.” I will not define “snoopy cake” because apparently one bakery makes it (I think they only make it upon special request now, too), and certainly nowhere near Texas. So let’s just say if you’re bringing this to her, might as well hard-boil a pterodactyl egg as a side dish.
4. What are the strong elements? What are the weak elements?
Everyone agreed that the whole meal was pretty strong. The milkshake, bacon, and eggs were probably the best parts. Now for the dissension.
Mark: One weak element is the eggs. I don’t like eggs. I don’t really eat breakfast.
Nikki: What do you mean? We go to brunch all the time.
Mark: Oh [confused look].
Eric: So you order eggs even though you don’t want to eat them?
Mark: Well I guess I don’t hate them, but I don’t like them. Maybe this is a recent thing.
Eric: I think all we’ve learned about you is that you don’t think to improve your situation. You just eat whatever life throws at you.
Nikki: I think that defines Mark well.
5. How does the meal work as a whole? Are there any unexpected surprises in the pairings?
Nikki: This is perfect! I love this meal. (of course someone who defaults to cheese in their eggs would say this)
Jim: I like the milkshake. It’s kind of an out-of-the-box thing to order.
Eric: I’m going to throw out a bit of a curveball and say jelly and butter on my toast. I don’t usually eat jelly at all, but I really like this. It doesn’t hurt that the bread is excellent (i.e. not prison brand)
6. How satisfied are you after the meal?
All were satisfied. Have you ever left a diner after eating eggs and not been satisfied?? Don’t be naive.
7. Is there anything you’re craving after this?
Nikki: A cigarette. (Note: she was dying to pick a meal that ended in a cigarette, because she morally objected to Texas penal rules that refuse this request due to prison policy)
Mark: A nap.
Eric: Jesus, nothing. Do you realize how much fat I just ingested??
8. Was there anything missing you would have liked?
Mark: More cheddar (ASTERISK!!!!)
Mark: Yeah, this is missing some kind of potato.
Jim: Home fries.
Eric: I could have used some Tabasco. I always eat my eggs with Tabasco sauce.
Mark: Even salsa would have been fine.
9. What does this do for your state of mind? Do you feel more at peace?
Nikki: I’m very happy! The milkshake put me in a great mood.
Mark: 40 seconds ago I felt really morbid. Like, 40 seconds earlier I was thinking, I feel really morbid. (yes, these were his actual words)
Eric: Eh, I’m fine. This was nice.
10. Ready to die??
Nikki: Not really. (I had to explain at this point that of course none of us are ready to die, but how would we feel knowing that this meal was our last) I think this meal would make me go, ‘Please don’t kill me because I want more milkshakes and bacon.’ I think it reminded me of the joys in life.
At this point Jim was looking up the different options for dying in states with capital punishment, and Mark had gone to the kitchen to forage some more. As for me, it was a great meal, and certainly had a decadence to it, but it carried no finality. I would probably eat this meal while on vacation somewhere. Somewhere not at a Texas penitentiary.
Probably a bunch of individual ones, like the end of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Mark learned that he can stand up to brunch menus and have lunch instead—that’s why they have the lunch option, I believe. Jim learned that he’s going to have to put the parental permissions on their house internet in the future before their combined credit score plunges. We all learned that we’re going to have to wait for Jim to be away on business before we pull a Sawyer on Nikki. Nikki learned that when you really win a prize, they actually have to tell you what prize you won right away and send you an affidavit (and not ask you to come to Tarrytown on a weeknight for a 90-minute “award ceremony”). Actually, I’m not positive that she learned this. And I learned that unless I rule with an iron fist, I’m going to wind up eating lobster and caviar the next time an inmate orders a tuna fish sandwich.
Finally, for any of you whose mouths started watering at the mention of Nikki’s amazing rib-eyes, she has a Kosher meat delivery company with some of the best tasting steak you’ll ever eat. Screw Omaha, these steaks are delivered fresh. Check out http://www.nykoshersteaks.com/ and follow them on Twitter @NYKosherSteaks for great recipes and other beef news. Hey, I don’t shill. If there’s anything Nikki knows, it’s amazing food—the girl puts creamer in eggs!