Floyd Cardoz is a busy man, so by the end of a long round of phone tag, Tabla’s executive chef had had plenty of time to think about what he’d request for his last meal on earth. Though it sounded like the answer had come to him without much pondering at all. But then, childhood favorites tend to stand out, don’t they?
So, we finally speak. Did you decide what you’d want for your last meal? Yes. My last meal would be in India. I come from a state called Goa, which is known for its seafood. Particularly this shrimp curry, which is coconut-based, and made with okra and green mango. It’s served with Goan rice, which is a fat-grained rice, and reddish-brown in color. It looks almost like wheatberries.
Oh, so it’s almost round. Right. And on the side, I would have pomfret rechad. It’s a whole fish stuffed with rechad masala, a mixture of chiles, vinegar, garlic, and cumin. Pomfret is a flat fish, with white flesh and a mild flavor.
How is the fish cooked? It’s panfried.
And this whole fish is a side dish? Or another big dish? Well, it’s a big dish, but it’s traditionally served with the curry.
And what would you drink? Oh, what would I drink? Hmm, I would drink a nice zinfandel with that. Robert Biale’s Black Chicken—that’s the name of the wine. That’s what would work for me.
And would the meal be eaten in a particular restaurant or be cooked by a certain person? Would you cook it yourself? It would either be my mom who would cook it, or a cook we had growing up, Ermine. She was the best cook ever.
But no one could be a better cook than your own mother, right?
Oh, no. No one. Well, maybe me.
Yeah, I guess maybe you. But my mom wouldn’t want me to die afterward.
Ah, yes. That’s the tricky part. But don’t think about it too much. Are you interested in dessert?
Of course! I would have dulce de leche ice cream from Argentina. It’s gotta be from Argentina because they know how to make it the best—extra creamy. If you’ve never had the real thing . . .
I haven’t. Oh, man, you have to go there. I wish I could eat this all right now!
I’m with you.
Floyd Cardoz’s new cookbook, One Spice, Two Spice (written with Jane Daniels Lear, from William Morrow), includes a recipe for Goan shrimp curry, which can also be found on Eat for Victory (villagevoice.com/blogs/food).