What's Real Prison Food Like? 'Orange Is The New Black' Nailed The Ick-Factor
By all accounts, I'm a foodie — and I don't care who knows it. I love great food, so all that talk about prison slop meals on Orange Is the New Black Season 3 kinda freaked me out. I had to find out what prison food is really like — and it ain't pretty. Prison food is so bad that some inmates have even filed lawsuits over it. Yikes. It's no wonder Red threw a fit about having to serve it, and that some of the Litchfield inmates began requesting the TV-dinner-like Kosher meals.
From Red to Piper, complaints about Litchfield's food fills a lot of Season 3 and fuels a few of its many storylines. Real-life inmates aren't crazy about their prison meals either, but it's not like they have much of a choice of what to eat. "The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) gets a daily budget of $2.25 to feed me three meals. What kind of quality of food do you think that can buy?" wrote Tito David Valdez Jr. for the Inmate Classified while serving time in California. "And it doesn’t matter what the menu says, whatever mystery meat it is, it all tastes the same — it’s processed in a prison somewhere in the state, made especially for our salivating taste buds."
So, what exactly is on the menu? Here's a taste of what real inmates are stuck with eating in prison. I'm sure Red would definitely not approve.
1. Trays Of Random
According to a 2012 certified menu from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, inmates receive trays filled with totally random ingredients. I mean, some stuff sounds at least mildly pleasant, like Chicken Cacciatore, Turkey Cutlet, Fish Fillet, and meatloaf. But, I don't know what to make of the others — what do you do with bologna, salad dressing, and three slices of bread? I don't like the sound of that sandwich.
Meet the prison punishment meal that is so bad and reviled that it has caused inmates to sue, calling it just too cruel. It's so gross that BuzzFeed made a video (above) earlier this month, introducing the disgusting loaf to civilians and recording their reactions.
If the Nutraloaf is turning you off, you can be like Chang and work a little DIY food magic. A forum called Prison Talk has a mighty long discussion about recipes you can make when you're behind bars. Daniel Genis called himself the Jailhouse Gourmet in a column for Slate . "With time I learned to disassemble the entire hotpot and mount the heating coil on a roast beef can with a whole [sic] punched in it," he wrote last year. "My own personal prison grill."
4. Kosher Meals
Much like in OITNB Season 3, Kosher meals are better maintained (for prison) and actually are pretty tasty (for prison), according to an article in Thrillist. In 2013, The Columbian reported that the Clark County Prison in Washington and other jails began noticing a trend of inmates going Kosher — and they sincerely doubted it was because they had an epiphany to convert to Judaism.
5. Wait Until The Holidays
Apparently, some jails get decent meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas. An anonymous man in federal prison told Forbes, "On Christmas Day there was a holiday meal served, consisting of a Cornish Game Hen (whole), vegetables, dessert, etc. which was also very satisfying."
6. Pruno, A.k.a. Prison Wine
Of course, there is something called prison wine, because where there's a will, there's always a way. According to this illustrated recipe on Thrillist, this drink is made of fruit, more fruit, sugar, ketchup (ew) and bread (for the yeast, also ew). It's then fermented in a bag for about a week and seems to taste just as gross as it sounds. But, hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.