Ignacio Mattos’s Last Meal


Ignacio Mattos, Il Buco’s Uruguayan chef, takes a little trip north of his homeland for a last meal in the Brazilian jungle. He plans to take his sweet time, putting off his own demise for at least six hours of swimming, napping, frolicking, and of course, eating.

Tell me your fantasy last meal. I would love to be in Brazil. The meal involves the place. Friends of my wife rent this house, a small colonial with a waterfall and a natural swimming pool. It’s kind of in the jungle, so you have to have a good fisherman and bring whatever other ingredients you need. We would have some grouper grilling on an open fire and eat traditional Brazilian food, like black beans with cilantro and manioc flour.

What is that? Oh, you know, it looks like sweet potato—yuca! They grind it into a kind of meal—it looks like polenta—and then toast it with traditional flavors like palm oil. It gets a little crispy.

Sounds good. I’m in love with that kind of stuff. I miss it. I’m sure if I were there for a while, I would say my last meal would be Italian food, or Spanish, but right now I’m wishing I could go there.

Understandable. What else would you eat? I will do a chimichurri, Argentine-style—garlicky, with parsley, dried oregano, pimento, chili flakes, and olive oil. We’d have a salad, just something simple, and we would make some easy flatbread that we could grill. Oh! A huge rib eye—the whole roast on the bone. We would cut pieces off the edges as it cooked, because we wouldn’t want to wait for three-and-a-half hours. It wouldn’t be a sit-down meal. We’d all be doing our own thing, not being polite at all. We would be drinking tons of caipirinhas—in the middle of the swimming pool. We’d mix it up with some beer, and probably at night we’d have wine. We’ll start around noon. It’s like a marathon. You could go off and get a nap, then come back and eat some more. That should be the perfect way to die.

I support that lifestyle wholeheartedly. And there’d probably be some blood sausage, if someone could bring some, and I’d like some sweetbreads too. There would be old samba playing. Not reggaetón. I’m sick of reggaetón. So sick.

Heh. What about dessert? Fruit from around there, that you could just pick. Papayas, mangoes, guavas, bananas.

Anything else? How about, if I don’t die, someone could bring bottarga di muggine from Italy, and in the morning I would make some fried eggs with it for breakfast. That would be beautiful.