I sporadically write around prison food top top this blog due to the fact that food is integral come the society of correctional institutions. For people who room confined, the work is structured around breakfast, lunch, and dinner times. The helps rest the monotony. Unfortunately, many prisoners complain the their food is S.O.S. (the very same old shit). Potatoes and bread seem to be constant staples of sinner meals. The food is generally bland to accommodate the assorted dietary limitations that prisoners may have.

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among the technologies in jail/prison food is dubbed “Spread.” ns heard about this years ago when I began corresponding v prisoners. Recently, I read a fascinating article detailing the various facets of making and sharing spread out inside a particular county jail in California. Sandra Cate (2008) composing in Gastronimica: the journal of Food and also Culture explains the objective and process of make Spread:

Finding their jailhouse diet bland, monotonous, and also insubstantial, inmates in the California penal mechanism invent alternate meals. “Spread,” the share term for these creations, defines the inmate-created foods most frequently built roughly a single ingredient, instant ramen noodles. Start with this noodle base, the inmates concoct variations that approximate their favorite foods on the outside, regularly those with distinctive flavorings and textures.

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The rest of the article addresses the reality that Spread offers inmates v an opportunity to “create community” in ~ the jail together they share their food through others. Over there is a reciprocity connected in the Spread procedure but that is racially delineated. Black inmates share with various other blacks and also white inmates v whites. Spread likewise affords a certain status to the inmates who have actually the resources to bought to do the food. So over there is an economic stratification come the process as well. The inmates value the chance to feel some manage over your surroundings by managing what they eat to an extent. They often find themselves hungry in ~ night because dinner service starts at 4 p.m. Spread out is a way to quench that hunger.

What I discovered most fascinating around the post were the actual descriptions of just how inmates created their Spreads and the ingredients that they used. Below is an instance of a cooking recipes from one inmate called Alexander who offers step-by-step instructions for making his Nacho Spread:

I got four or 5 bowls. Start off v your two top Ramen noodles in a little bag. Put hot water in them, yet don’t placed too much. Mix them about until you get that quite feel, like it is smooth and the noodles cooked. Mix in a bag of hot chips (Hot Cheese Crunchies), adding an ext water if the cheese crunch sucks up several of the water. Keep this ~ above the side. I don’t like beef jerky, but if you like it friend can add it in at the moment.

Pour two packages of Jalapeño Cheese Squeezer (“squeeze cheese”) into a bowl, mix it v a cool amount of milk, enough so thatit will certainly spread, so you can spread the over your nachos. Rip open up a package of chili beans and pour it into an additional bowl. Chop increase a continual or warm pickle into tiny dice pieces.

You currently have, in different bowls, noodles, cheese, chili beans, andpickle. Litter the cheese and also beans into the microwave and also let themwarm approximately a nice, wonderful temperature, in ~ least five minutes. Make sure you watch them in case they overboil. If castle overboil, open the microwave door, mix lock up, and warm castle up around three an ext minutes. Take them out, run to every little thing table she at. Lay down a flat bag. Placed tortilla chips or Doritos down first. To water the noodles through the warm chips over that, climate the beans, however slowly, making sure there’s a rim of nacho chips roughly the spread. When I obtained the bean down, ns pour the pickles, ’cause I gained them slice and also dice. Ns pour the pickles nice and also rice over it, then i pour the cheese on peak of that. As soon as I gained the cheese on height of it then it’s cool, and also that’s what ns be calling my Nacho Spread.

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I recommend reading the entire short article (PDF) come learn much more about the role that food plays in jail/prison society and likewise to see an ext Spread recipes. You can additionally read around other innovative jail cooking creations here.