Death Row and my last meal

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I’m sitting here on death row for some unjust reason. I told them I didn’t steal that old lady’s purse but that rigged jury found me guilty anyway. Even if I did steal the lady’s purse, the sentence totally outweighs the crime. I’m sure that the prosecuting attorney paid off that lousy no good lying witness…just to finger me…and now I’m being asked what I want to eat for my last meal.

cornish pasties 1 (1)


“Cornish pasties,” I whisper without any hesitation. “What?”, they ask. I again tell them, in a slightly irritated tone, that I want Cornish pasties…”That’s pass-tees, not paste-tees. I want them just like my mother used to make them.”

“You need to start with a good pastry recipe. Then roll that out to the size of a plate.” Any size plate will do, but I tell them to use a very large plate since this is my last meal and I intend taking my time eating it.

“Once the pastry is prepared, on one half section of it, you are to place cubes of good tender meat, onions, carrots, and rutabaga. Go ahead and add some diced potatoes while your at it. After all that’s done, salt and pepper everything and add a dab of margarine. Fold the pastry over the ingredients and crimp the edges. Prick the pastry with a fork before baking and brush a little milk on top before you put it in the oven. You’ll need to bake it for a little more than an hour. Oh yes, be sure to bring me plenty of catsup.” I remember, my Mom was always appalled that I would ruin such a wonderful meal with that red stuff. She said the proper sauce was, HP Sauce.



As they head off to the kitchen to prepare my meal, my mind wanders. I think of all those old tin miners back in merry old England that used to carry this very meal with them into the mines (without sauce), there in SW England…Cornwall County, to be precise.

Tin mines are scattered throughout Cornwall.

Tin mines are scattered throughout Cornwall.


It was the perfect meal, a complete meal in a small package. It could be eaten without cutlery and the thick, crimped edges allowed the miners to hold their food without polluting it with toxins.

That Cornish pasty became so popular over the centuries that it has now been awarded Protected Geographical Indication status. In other words, there are specific standards by which the recipe and methods of production must adhere. Only Cornish pasties prepared in Cornwall can actually be called a Cornish pasty.

Wait till the guys in the kitchen discover that one. Yep! I’m going to live to see another day.

If they follow through with this unjust execution, I’m certainly going to miss being able to paint. I remember a painting I did some years ago of a little corner market in St. Austell, right there by Mevagissey on the eastern coast of Cornwall; it was so typical of England, and right there on the wall was a large painting advertising Cornish pasties. Ahhhh!

St. Austell Market

St. Austell Market


“John, wake up. How long are you going to stay in bed? Don’t you need to get a painting done for that show so you can get it shipped off this week?” Awakened and dazed by the muffled sounds of my wife, I stumble out of bed and wash my face.


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John Pototschnik is an Art Renewal Center Living Master
To view his art and bio, please click HERE


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