Prison Spreads 101: Prison food, culture and recipes
Ionia is a prison town. That is its primary industry. Most of the thousands of inmates incarcerated in them come from some miles away in southeast Michigan, where Detroit is the hub. The distance makes for a severe reduction in family visits and programming, which ultimately increases recidivism — that is, it increases crime. And Ionia is not unusual. In the s, with mass incarceration accelerating, a new prison was built in rural America nearly every 15 days.
Between and , the majority of prisons were built in small towns; about new prisons were put in rural counties. Before , only 36 percent of prisons were in rural America. But that was then. Today, in an era of increased scrutiny on mass incarceration and strained state budgets, prisoners are paroled more frequently and receive shorter sentences.
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Between and , at least 89 correctional facilities in 25 states were shut down. Even communities that have long been home to a prison are pushing back, including northeast Philadelphia, where the House of Correction has stood for years. Officials want to build a new prison to replace it, but the impassioned skepticism of local residents is postponing plans. All this raises a pressing question: How do you detach a community from its dependency on the prison economy, without doing undue harm to local citizens?
Is it even possible to wholly extract these forbidding fortresses from their intended purpose? After all, they were designed to be a place that nobody wants to be in. Puzzling out a way to find a new use, especially in rural areas and small towns, is a critical challenge for 21st-century planners. In Stockton, adults could see their local lock-up becoming a community college. Kids who attended the meeting want it to become a water park.
An interesting experiment in prison reuse is playing out in New York, where Governor Andrew Cuomo is recalibrating the corrections system. Early in his administration, he traded on his popular support to begin the process of closing prisons, and so far, 13 adult prisons and numerous juvenile facilities have been shuttered. This was tricky to do. She is on a mission to help communities move beyond their identities and limitations as prison towns — and that includes digging into the emotional history of historic and intergenerational prison towns.
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The Art of Gourmet Cooking in Prison
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Bake for 45 minutes, or until the squash is tender and a knife easily pierces the skin and flesh. Sautee until the onion is translucent and the garlic begins to slightly brown, about minutes. Add in diced tomatoes, and simmer on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixtures thickens into a sauce. If using dried herbs add them in now while your sauce is still thickening. Set aside. Stir until kale leaves are wilted. Turn off the heat and set aside. If sharing or serving as a side dish you can scrap the noodles into a separate bowl. Garnish with spicy chili peppers, parmesan cheese or herbs.
Cover with aluminum foil and place the halves, cut side up, in a foil-lined shallow baking pan. If your knives aren't sharp enough, just wrap the pumpkin or squash in foil and bake it whole. Bake for roughly 45 minutes, or until you can pierce through with a knife, with a little resistance. Slice and peel, then largely dice. Simmer gently, covered, until all the vegetables are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Just before serving, stir in the cilantro. The stew should be thick and very moist but not soupy; add additional stock or water if needed. Adjust seasonings to your liking. Serve in bowls. Add garlic and continue to cook until onion slightly brown. Add the shredded beets and cook until they have lost their colour. Cook in the oil before adding the onion and garlic for a heartier version of this soup! If you need it to be wetter, add a little water; if you need it to be drier add a little white flour.
If you beat up the dough too much the bannock will be tough! Put the dough in the pan and spread it and flatten slightly to the corners. A knife should come out clean when poked if done. Pop it out and place on a cooling rack immediately. Crumble over the apple mixture. Share link DOI :.
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Photo courtesy of Karla Diaz. To date, Diaz has received over recipes from prisoners in California. Most of them are extraordinarily precise, and get inventive in their cooking techniques: "I use a six-by-six paper box, a An inmate from Tehachapi State Prison described using a towel to insulate cooking items: "Add two 16 oz. There's a recipe for menudo, a traditional Mexican soup, that substitutes in pork rinds, chili lime-flavored Corn Nuts, and a package of tortillas.
Another recipe, for tacos, uses the flavor packet from a chili-flavored Top Ramen package to add spice to refried beans and instant rice. There's one for makeshift sweet and sour pork, which combines pork rinds with a sauce made from jelly, Kool Aid, plus one Top Ramen seasoning packet and a healthy dose of imagination.
The most common recipe Diaz receives is for something called "spread. Sandra Cate, a professor of cultural anthropology at San Jose State University who has studied the culture surrounding spread and wrote a paper on the subject in , described the meal as an alternative to a jailhouse diet that's typically "bland, monogamous, and insubstantial," and said it reminds inmates of their life on the outside.
Cate's paper, published in Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture leans heavily on interviews conducted by her husband, Robert Gumpert, who has spent the past nine years working on a portraiture project based in San Francisco County jails. He goes into jails and offers to take portraits of inmates in exchange for their stories—and often, they wanted to talk about food. Back when jails were more permissive about microwave use, Gumpert said, he met an inmate who made Chinese-inspired spread by frying noodles in mayonnaise in the microwave.
According to his research, inmates make this kind of food for a variety of reasons: Food in the jail cafeteria is bland; mealtimes are awkwardly early dinner in the San Francisco County jails is delivered by 4 PM and inmates get hungry at night; eating spread reminds them of the food they ate on the outside. But it's also about having control, in an environment where everything else is decided for you. According to Gumpert, you can go to nearly any jail or prison, in any nearly country in the world, and find its inhabitants making their own version of spread.
I've seen it in Mexico, in Asia," said Gumpert. One place where it doesn't seem to exist is Denmark, where inmates are allowed to prepare their own meals. Last year, Linda Kjaer Minkea, a law professor at the University of Southern Denmark spent 13 months interviewing prisoners in a Danish maximum security prison to evaluate the "self-catering" system , and found that not only did inmates appreciate the opportunity to make their own food "according to their taste and cultural diversity," but cooking was correlated with better behavior in the prison, and greater self-esteem among inmates.