Since becoming, last month, the first food critic ever to win the Pulitzer Prize, Jonathan Gold has written about Khmer curries and beef head quesadillas for LA Weekly. When we got him on the phone to ask what he’d have for his last meal on earth, we dared not guess what his vision might include. Turns out, there’s a restaurant in Tuscany that roasts a whole leg of prosciutto, and unsurprisingly, Gold found it.
So, what do you eat when you’re about to die? It’s a restaurant in Tuscany called Hostaria Costachiara. It’s a place where I go with dozens of friends every year. You eat at long tables out in the back, under a rustic semi-roof.
Sounds perfect. What do you eat? They have the most wonderful antipasti—roasted eggplants, beautiful peppers, pickled fish in olive oil, zucchini, beautiful little fish in pesto, fresh pecorino, cured anchovies. . . .
Is it the kind of place that has the antipasti out on a table, or do you order each thing individually? It’s a really long table. You get up and fill your plate, and, for like $6 extra, they have roast prosciutto, rubbed with spices.
Wait, prosciutto? Like, a whole cured leg, roasted? Yeah.
I’ve never heard of such a thing. Jesus. What else do they put on it, any garlic?
I guess. There’s always garlic. After that, you can have some pasta, maybe homemade pappardelle with wild boar. And you drink the house wine. It’s a cheap wine—it’s only a few years old—but it’s delicious. Then the big guy who owns the place brings over some steaks as thick as a fat guy’s arm. These are the real Fiorentina- style steaks. He keeps pictures of his favorite cows and tells you about them. He grills the steaks upstairs in the fireplace, and they’re bloody inside and charred on the outside, and the juices run down your face, and you’re drunk, and your face is greasy, and everything is right with the world. Except you’re gonna die.
Right. That’s a minor catch. Then I guess you could have some torta della nonna, which is a custard-filled tart with pine nuts. And since you’re going to die, you might as well have some vin santo with that. But really good vin santo. And when you’re done, you get in your car and drive across the A1 toward Arezzo, and in five minutes you’re at the Prada outlet. So you can die well dressed and well fed.