The artist Julie Green has been working for more than a decade on her series titled The Last Supper comprised of painted china illustrating the final meal requests of death row inmates in the United States. The menus, gleaned from newspaper clippings and websites humanize a sect of society typically disregarded by the general public. Green paints the menus of The Last Supper series with mineral paint on appropriated dishes she collects from shops and stores. The plates range from delicate white porcelain to heavy cream crockery and the foods from each menu inform the choice of dish, “For dinner food, a heavy plain plate would be appropriate. If the meal is lasagna and shrimp, that might call for a fine porcelain plate.” Gazing from one plate to another, a culinary portrait of the United States begins to emerge. The most beloved menus from each region are singled out to be the last earthly delight of a condemned inmate. From tamales and enchiladas in Texas to boiled crawfish in Louisiana, the regional menus give a sense of the ethnic background of each prisoner.

Julie Green, Mississippi 23 July 1947, 2011
Cobalt mineral paint on kiln-fired ceramic plates, 22.8 x 22.8 x 2.5cm
Fried chicken and watermelon served to a 15-year old and a 16-year old boy.

I examined Green‘s series in an essay titled ‘Last Supper’ in the September issue of Ceramics Monthly. She graciously provided a recipe for the blog and of the dish she stated the following:

“Emotions surrounding capital punishment are often complex and conflicting. I will choose a simple menu, perhaps the saddest of all the final meals because it was served to a 15-year old and a 16-year old boy.”

Last Supper, Ceramics Monthly, September 2011, p.42-45

 

{Fried Chicken Legs}

Recipe provide by Julie Green, “This is close to grandmother’s electric skillet fried chicken recipe, adapted from Marilyn’s Deep South Fried Chicken on Allrecipes.com”

Yield: 2 servings

1 cup shortening
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 or more chicken legs

Heat the shortening in a large, cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. In a brown paper lunch bag, combine the flour, salt, and pepper. Shake two chicken pieces in the bag to coat, and place them in the skillet. Repeat until all of the chicken is coated and in the skillet.

Fry the chicken over medium-high heat until all of the pieces have been browned on both sides. Turn the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 25 minutes. Remove the lid, and increase heat to medium-high. Continue frying until chicken pieces are a deep golden brown, and the juices run clear.

To serve with watermelon: Select a melon that makes a hollow sound when thumped, and has strong variation between dark and light stripes. Slice and serve cold.