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Jimi Hendrix died in an apartment basement of the Samarkand Hotel on September 19th, 1970.  The night before he had dined on wine, tuna fish on white bread and massive quantities Vesperax sleeping pills.  The autopsy revealed that after ingesting the wine and the pills, Jimi choked on the tuna fish sandwich, passed out and eventually suffocated to death. 

Hosting Jimi Hendrix’s last supper would make quite the awkward dinner party.  Do you serve the sleeping pills as a first course or a side dish? Do you force your guests to drink the entire bottle of wine?  Sorry Jimi, the club will have to pass on your last meal. 

Your guitar playing revolutionized music and sadly it all came to an end with a tuna fish on white.

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 “Dream as if you’ll live forever.  Live as if you’ll die today.”- James Dean 

On September 14th, 1955 James Dean tells television viewers across America in a National Safety Council commercial, “remember, drive safely, the life you might save might be mine.” Two weeks later, James Dean has dinner at his favorite restaurant, the Villa Capri in Hollywood.   The Villa is the hottest restaurant in town. The Rat Pack is there almost every night downing martinis — Frank even has his own steak called ‘The Sinatra’ on the menu.  As he does almost every night, James Dean opts out of the festivities in the main dining room and comes in quietly through the back door.  Patsy, the owner of the Villa, knows James is shy and has a permanent table set up for him in the kitchen.  

He also knows that Dean is somewhat of a mystery in the Hollywood community.   Dean is a rising star who’s just finished filming his third picture, GIANT.  His second film REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE will be released next week.  Patsy’s heard all the rumors circulating about the young star.  He’s heard that Dean has a penchant for pornography, orgies, and prefers the company of young men.   But Patsy has trouble believing the rumors. The James Dean he knows is a shy and sweet young man from the Midwest. Dean sits alone at his table in the corner of the Villa Capri’s kitchen.

Patsy gives him a pizza to snack on as the kitchen staff serves him up a plate of spaghetti and meatballs covered in mozzarella.   James Dean is very polite to the staff, but he avoids eye contact and never says much. He finishes his meal, thanks the chef, thanks Patsy and leaves through the back door. 

The next morning, Dean puts on his red jacket from REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE and sets out in his new Porsche 550 Spyder — nicknamed the ‘Little Bastard’ — from Los Angeles to Salinas. He is racing the car in the Salinas Road Race tomorrow.   As James approaches Bakersfield, he’s pulled over for speeding and is ticketed for going 100 mph in a 55 mph zone.  Not wanting to tempt fate and the law, James Dean stays at a consistent and legal speed of 55 mph for the rest of his trip to Salinas.     

Donald Turnupseed, a student at Cal Poly, drives his Ford Sedan through the intersection of route 41 and 46 just as the ‘Little Bastard’ comes around the corner.   James Dean sees the Ford Sedan crossing the road. He slams on the brakes, but there’s not enough space. His Porsche 550 Spyder rams into the side of Donald Turnupseed’s Ford Sedan.   Donald is thrown from his car and James Dean is thrown through his windshield.   Donald Turnupseed dies in 1995 and James Dean dies instantly on September 30th, 1955.

James Dean and The Little Bastard

  The Last Supper 

Pizza

Dinner Salad with Italian Vinaigrette

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Tiramisu

Espresso

The details of the Hindenburg menu are hard to track down. The Nazi Party was humiliated by the disaster. The zeppelin had been a sign of their mastery and dominance of the air. To have the massive airship go down in flames showed the serious flaws in their thinking.

Most records of the Hindenburg were forever sealed by the Nazi Party and have since disappeared. All that is left are first hand accounts and news reports from the time. I have not been able to find the exact recipes, but below are recipes I was able to piece together. Please let me know if you find anything on the culinary experience on the Hindenburg.

Before dinner, quite a few of the guests would have Old-Fashioned Whiskey Cocktails in the smoking saloon. Yes, there was an entire room dedicated to smoking on the highly flammable Hindenburg.

The Old-Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail

Dissolve a small lump of sugar in a little water in a whiskey glass. Add 2 dashes of Angostura Bitters. Add an ice cube, a piece of lemon peel and one jigger whiskey. Mix with a small bar spoon and serve, leaving the spoon in the glass.

None of the first hand accounts went into details of the salad course, other than – they served a salad course in the dining room.

German Potato Salad (Unauthentic for the Hindenburg, but it makes a good potato salad.)

5 lbs. potatoes (do not use baking potatoes because they are too flaky)

1/2 cup diced smoked bacon

3 tablespoons white vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

3/4 cups sliced green onions

1/4 cup chopped chives

Clean and Boil the potatoes until cooked, but still firm. Cut the potatoes into bite-size chunks. In a bowl, combine: the smoke bacon, vegetable oil, white vinegar, sugar, sea salt, ground pepper, green onions and chives. Pour the mixture over the potato chunks, making sure each one is covered. Chill and serve. Is also pretty good warmed.

Vinaigrette Herb Salad Dressing (Authentic to the time period and German, but no proof that it was actually used on the salads on the Hindenburg. Either way, it’s a good dressing.)

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons vinegar

2 tablespoons dry white wine

1 tablespoon prepared mustard

1/2 small white onion, minced

2 small gherkins (i.e. pickles), drained and chopped

1 tablespoon capers, drained and chopped

2 hard boiled eggs, finely chopped

1 tablespoon minced parsley

Combine oil, vinegar, wine and mustard in a bottle and shake vigorously until well blended. Combine onion, gherkins, capers and hard boiled eggs in a bowl and pour dressing over them. Season with salt and stir in parsley. Let chill for half an hour and serve over greens.

The rest of the dinner on the Hindenburg is pretty easy to make.

Due to limited cooking and storage space on the Hindenburg, most of the food on the zeppelin was not very glamorous for a luxury liner. Sandwiches, cold cheeses and canned meats were the typical fair on board. It’s probably why everyone stuck with the whiskey cocktails.

Light up your smokes, kick back with an old-fashioned whiskey cocktail and enjoy the ride.

The Hindenburg Promotional Poster

The Last Supper Club is a monthly dinner party that explores the last meals of the rich, famous, infamous and some poor individuals that fell victim to some bizarre mishaps.I believe that what you eat defines who you are and where you are at a specific moment in time. If you are running late for an appointment, you might grab a granola bar or a quick hot dog. If you are having a romantic dinner at a fancy restaurant, you might eat a steak. A meal is a snapshot of your character.

The Last Supper Club explores some amazing food and some amazing stories. It’s a reminder to enjoy every bite because you never know what may happen next.

Da Vinci’s The Last Supper

hindenburg.gif 

“In the future, air travel across the Atlantic in a dirigible will be commonplace.” 

“A Day on Board” from the Airship Hindenburg Advertising Brochure:What a wonderful night’s rest you have enjoyed after your first day on board! The soft murmur from the distant engines seems to have lulled you to sleep. Now the sunshine is streaming through the windows and you take your place in the dining saloon for a breakfast of crisp appetizing rolls and aromatic coffee. Already, the free and easy companionship of ship-board travel is in evidence. The enjoyment of airship travel makes people sociable, friendships are being formed. You finish breakfast and walk to the windows. Down below, you see the long shadow of the airship passing swiftly over the sparkling foam-crested waves of the blue Atlantic, and the joy of experiencing this wonderful achievement in modern travel surges through you. No people are confined to their cabins, for as yet no passenger has ever been sea-sick on board a Zeppelin Airship. Even in storms and squally weather, the ship’s movements are quiet and steady except for the slight shock of the first onslaught. There is no noise beyond the distant murmur of the engines and the sigh of the wind on the outer hull. No dust, no soot to trouble you, the whole atmosphere is one of tranquility and peace. The air is delicious and fresh, in fact you seem to have been transported into another and more beautiful world. For a long time you are content to watch the marvelous cloud formation or the effect of the wind on the sea and waves beneath, and then perhaps you recline in a comfortable chair to read, join a party in a game of bridge, or chat with some new and interesting friends. Occasionally someone will call from the windows, and you will join your fellow passenger in witnessing the passing of a great liner far beneath, her rails lined with waving passengers, or the inspiring spectacle of a man-of-war or destroyer flotilla. Mid-day arrives as if by magic. After dinner, smokers retire to the smoking saloon. Gradually and amidst many distractions and pleasant activities the evening advances and the stars appear. If inclined, you take a shower bath before supper, and then a round of cocktails with some friends in the bar, followed by supper, and to end the day, a game of bridge. As you retire to your cabin it seems a miracle that already you are nearer your destination by over 1,000 miles. 

Eight-year-old passenger Werner Doehner sat in the dining room of the Hindenburg on May 6, 1937. His parents had just returned from cocktails in the smoking saloon.  They ate a traditional German dinner of cheese, salads and sandwiches as they had every night on the airship.  Werner would be put to bed while his parents play cards with other passengers in the bar. With no warning the dining room tilts to a forty-five degree angle.  Chairs, tables and dishes fall across the floor. Everything is on fire. His mother lifts him and throws him out the window, but Werner hits a piece of debris and bounces back. She throws her son again. This is the last thing Werner remembers. He awakens in a hospital weeks later.

Today, Werner is seventy-eight-years-old and lives in New Jersey.  His mother died of old age, but always limped from the pelvis fracture she received on that night.  His father and sister did not survive.

Thirty-five people died on the Hindenburg on May 6, 1937 at 6:25pm.

The Last Supper 

A cocktail hour followed by…

An Assortment of Cheeses

Meat, Sausage and Tomato Sandwiches

Salads

A Selection of German Beer & Wines

Ernest Hemingway - 1953

If you feel like dining on Hemingway’s last meal, here are the recipes.  Shotguns are not included.

New York Strip Loin with Garlic-Herb Crust (serves 10)

4 garlic cloves

8 fresh sage leaves

4 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

4 teaspoons olive oil

4 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper

1 (4 to 5lb.) boneless beef loin New York strip roast, fat trimmed to 1/4 inch

In a food processor, chop the garlic. Add the sage, thyme, oil, salt and pepper and process until a paste forms. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place the meat fat side up in a roasting pan. Roast the meat for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Roast meat for an additional 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it stand for 20 minutes. Cut crosswise into 1/3 inch thick slices.

Baked Potato

Large russet potato

Canola oil

Kosher salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Wash the potatoes thoroughly with a stiff brush and cold running water. Dry. With a standard fork poke 8-12 deep holes all over the potato. Place the potatoes in a bowl and coat them lightly with canola oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Place the potatoes directly on a rack in the middle of the oven. Be sure to place a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch the drippings. Bake 1 hour.

Caesar Salad Dressing

1 cup mayonnaise (go light on the mayo, you are only using this for thickening)

1/4 cup egg substitute (you can use real eggs if you are determined to be authentic)

1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons of water

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon anchovy paste or 2-3 chopped anchovies

2 cloves of pressed garlic

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon coarse ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine the above ingredients in a bowl and mix for 1 minute. Let it chill for 2 hours before adding it to the salad.

Be sure to serve everything with large quantities of Bordeaux wine.  As Hemingway said, “Drinking is a way of ending the day.”

Enjoy!

“Every man’s life ends the same way.  It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.” – Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway’s first novel, THE TORRENTS OF SPRING, was published in 1926.  His writing career flourished into the 50’s and in 1953 he won a Pulitzer Prize for the book many critics consider his masterpiece, THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA.  The following year his life’s work was recognized with the Nobel Prize for Literature.  Hemingway was at the top of his game.  But the 60’s were a different matter.  While on safari in 1960, Hemingway was in two plane crashes that left him with a concussion and shattered vertebrae.  On top of his physical injuries, Hemingway refused to acknowledge the changing literary environment.  Henry Miller’s TROPIC OF CANCER was on the top of the bestseller list and the editors were often telling their up and coming writers, “We want more Kerouac and less Hemingway.”  The world was changing and the iconic “Papa” no longer fit.

Hemingway began drinking more and more, and for the first time in his life he was unable to write in that condition. He confessed to his old friend and editor, A.E. Hotchner, “I’m living in a Kafka nightmare.”  In the following weeks, Hemingway became more agitated.  In Hemingway’s final conversation with Hotchner, he incoherently repeated over and over, “I can’t write any more.  I can’t write any more.  I can’t write any more…”

In the spring of 1960, Hemingway was committed to the Mayo Psychiatric Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota for severe paranoia and depression.  After a year-long series of shock treatments, Hemingway had extreme memory loss and was physically incapable of writing.  His wife, Mary, met with psychiatrists in an effort to have him permanently hospitalized.  Her move was thwarted by his physicians who believed Hemingway would not live through another round of electric shock treatment.

On June 26, 1961, Hemingway was released from the Mayo Clinic.  Mary and a friend, George Brown, drove him back to his home in Ketchum, Idaho, arriving on June 30th.  The following day, in an effort to return to normalcy, Mary and Hemingway went to dinner at their favorite restaurant, the Christina.  Their waitress that evening was June Maella, a 20-year-old native Idahoan who usually served the famous writer when he dined at Christina.

Hemingway ordered his usual from Maella that night – a New York strip steak, which was accompanied by a baked potato and a green salad.  Hemingway always substituted a Caesar salad for the traditional green salad.  Maella remembers, “He sat at table five that night.  It is in the corner and overlooks the dining room and the bar.  He could sit there and see everyone in the restaurant.  As always, Mr. Hemingway ordered a bottle of Bordeaux wine with his meal.  I remember he didn’t act any differently that night.  He sat very quietly, I never knew him to be anything but a very gentle man.”

Early the next morning Hemingway arose and quietly went down the carpeted stairway to the basement. He selected a double-barreled shotgun from his collection and loaded both barrels.  He returned to the front foyer of the house.  In the bright light of dawn, Hemingway raised the barrel of the shotgun to his lips and pulled the trigger.

That afternoon his wife announced his passing to the press with the statement, “Mr. Hemingway has accidentally killed himself while cleaning his gun.”

The Last Supper 

New York Strip Steak

Baked Potato

Caesar Salad

Bordeaux Wine

Recipes and more last suppers to follow…