Dear Mr. Gold:

I hope you are in good health. But if the end were near, which restaurant would you let cater your funeral? (Hopefully Chinese.)

—Richard Kurzer, L.A.

Dear Mr. Kurzer:

Preferably Chinese? My corpse isn't cold yet, and you're already dictating what will be served at the funeral? My living room is pretty big, but it's going to get crowded with all the dim sum carts rolling through it. And then there's the eternal dilemma of whether there are enough offalians around to warrant getting the blood cubes or the steamed bowels, whether the sesame balls have been too long out of the fryer and whether the woman pushing the hamper of doufu fa has already run out of syrup. These are the questions that will haunt me in my grave, I fear. Also: If the food is really good, I'm going to regret having died in the first place.

A big array of Chinese cold dishes might work better (Chang's Garden for Shanghainese or Shu Feng Yuan for chile-red Sichuan), or an endless table heaped with Korean panchan. (From Banchan à la carte up on Western? Why not?) The nicest — and saddest — funeral I ever attended was accompanied by a half ton of mezze from Marouch.

But who am I kidding? In my family, funerals are occasions to stuff down truly heroic amounts of deli, and when I have to go, I will die as I lived: seen off with Langer's pastrami.

LANGER'S: 704 S. Alvarado., L.A. (213) 483-8050,

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