Thursday, May 6, 2010

Prison food - If they can call it that.

When reading up on ramen recipes, I stumbled upon vast resources for recipes created by and for prison inmates.

While I realize that obviously prison is meant to be a punishment, the idea of some of these recipes makes me wonder which is worse - the incarceration, or the food?

We shall see...

First, I'll cover something called "spread." From what I gather, spread is a combination of every kind of food you can obtain from a vending machine, mixed up and used as a dip for chips or crackers. Sounds horrid, but I've eaten Mulligan Stew (aka Booyah), so how bad could it be, right?

So I grab a "recipe" from, contributed by KConnor56:

"The Spread:
The main ingredient is Top Raman soup. Use 1 soup per person (if you put alot of extras, 2 soups for 3 people), crunch up the noodles & throw in the spices from the little packet. Don't worry about mixing flavors (it's all good). Pour noodles & spices into trash bag. Now comes the fun part you start adding all the stuff you like, cans of tuna, hot sauce, flavored popcorn, spicy cheetoes, corn chips, (don't use potatoe chips), basically you throw in anything you can get. Then you add enough HOT water to cook the mess, tie the trash bag closed & let it cook. You spread a newspaper (AFTER it's been read) on a table & open up the trash bag & everyone grabs a fork & you all stand around this spread eat & talk. If you cook this for a guy on the outside he will probably leave you."

Love the last part. Not so much the spread, though. Ick. Here's an example of what spread looks like (and a visual of what it tastes like, if you catch my drift):

Photo courtesy of Hubpages

After that horrifying experience, it was time to move on to less vomit-inducing fare.

There's Frito Pie, which I actually quite enjoy here on the outside, when the munchies hit.

Canned cheese dip
Canned bean dip, or just canned beans
Hot sauce

Throw the cheese, beans, and hot sauce into the bag of Fritos, and you're ready to go! Actually pretty good stuff, even if it does end up looking like dog food.

Next there's prison "cake," not the quintessential cake with a file baked in, but one that could be made in a cell.

"Cakes" made for fellow inmates are usually layers of crushed cookies and candy, and aren't so much a cake as a pie.

Oreos or other creme-filled cookies
M&Ms or chocolate candies
Peanut butter, marshmallow fluff, or jam

The cookies are separated from the fillings, and then crushed to make a crust. The filling is then mixed with the peanut butter/jam/fluff, and layered on this, with the chocolate candies as a topping. Sounds good, if not diabetic coma-inducing. But I guess a sugar high is the most one can hope for in prison.

Speaking of inebriation, there's also "hooch" or cell-made wine. Also called juice, pruno, jump, brew, chalk, buck, or raisin jack, among other unique and unusual names.

While obviously against the rules, prisoners find all kinds of ways to ferment sugary liquids into something resembling a beverage. Curious as to how this would taste, I decided to make some hooch of my own.

Since I am impatient, I added a bit of yeast to mine to speed up the brewing process. My hooch is sugar-water, straight up, fermented in an old vinegar bottle. I didn't get photos of my process, but here's what it looks like:

Photo courtesy of scott28.

Yup, that's a balloon on top. The balloon has a few small holes poked in it, to allow the resulting gases to escape, while not letting in any outside bacteria, yeast, or fungi. Not that food safety is really of much concern to many of these guys.

After a couple weeks, the balloon deflates, and then you know your hooch is ready to get you crunk!

I tasted it, thinking that the stink would make me gag, but it really just tasted like semi-flat, watery, skunky beer. But damn, was it strong! Mix that with a little kool-aid, soda, or juice, and it's party time till the guards come along.

Now that I'm full of all kinds of things that could barely be called food, as well as a substance that might be regrettable in a few hours, I'd better call it a day.

If this doesn't deter you from crime, I don't know what will!