Skip to comments.Dining Critic Tries Nutraloaf, the Prison Food for Misbehaving Inmates
Posted on 08/27/2010 10:42:05 PM PDT by LibWhacker
JUSTICE IS BLAND: I eat Nutraloaf, the all-in-one "disciplinary loaf" served at Cook County Jail
Inmates at Cook County Jail are allowed three privileges: television, books, and food. The staff has no compunction about denying its most difficult residents either of the first two, but under the Constitution, correctional facilities cant withhold food. Nothing in the Eighth Amendment, however, says the food has to taste good. This is not the Four Seasons, says Tom Dart, the Cook County sheriff. Inmates who are injuring people in jail will get their nutritional needs met, but we will not cater to their culinary desires.
Nutraloaf, a thick orange lump of spite with the density and taste of a dumbbell, could only be the object of Beelzebubs culinary desires. Packed with protein, fat, carbohydrates, and 1,110 calories, Nutraloaf contains everything from carrots and cabbage to kidney beans and potatoes, plus shadowy ingredients such as dairy blend and mechanically separated poultry. You purée everything into a paste, shape it into a loaf, and bake it for 50 to 70 minutes at 375 degrees. Eat two a day and, boom, all your daily nutrients, right there. If you want the recipe, ask me.
Or just get yourself tossed into Cook County Jail, where an inmate who causes serious food-related problems buys himself a one-way ticket to Nutraloafopolis. Get caught making homemade hooch in your cell toilet? You get Nutraloaf. Hurl food at a guard or stab someone with a spork? Nutraloaf. Of the jails 9,000 inmates, 21 have endured the Nutraloaf program since it began in June. One beggedNo! Anything but Nutraloaf!and another went on a hunger strike. Both men, and virtually every other Nutraloafer, straightened up enough to get back to the usual diet of oatmeal and processed bologna.
In July, I took the afternoon off from my job as Chicago magazines dining critic and drove to 26th and California to dine on Nutraloaf. Cook Countys stridently gray-brown cafeteria would never be mistaken for Naha, and the dishs presentation aims less for the wow factor than the break-your-spirit factor. An employee from Aramark Correctional Servicesa branch of the Philadelphia-based company that also provides fare for college dorms and NFL stadiumspresented me a Styrofoam container sagging with a blunt ginger-toned mass roughly the size of a calzone and with the appearance of a neglected fruitcake. It had nothing else in common with either.
The mushy, disturbingly uniform innards recalled the thick, pulpy aftermath of something you dissected in biology class: so intrinsically disagreeable that my throat nearly closed up reflexively. But the funny thing about Nutraloaf is the taste. Its not awful, nor is it especially good. I kept trying to detect any individual elementcarrot? egg?and failing. Nutraloaf tastes blank, as though someone physically removed all hints of flavor. Thats the goal, says Mike Anderson, Aramarks district manager. Not to make it taste bad but to make it taste neutral. By those standards, Nutraloaf is a culinary triumph; any recipe that renders all 13 of its ingredients completely mute is some kind of miracle.
I ate two-thirds and gave up, longing for any hint of flavor, even a bad one. That night, my stomachs rebellion against the loaf was anything but neutral. I felt so full and lethargic that I skipped dinner and the following breakfast. And lets just say I finally had a lot of time alone to catch up on my New Yorker reading.
Even though inmates in several states, including Illinois, have sued over Nutraloaf, alleging cruel and unusual punishment, correctional departments everywhere are introducing their own versions of the disciplinary loaf. None of the lawsuits have been successful. Were not trying to dump Tabasco sauce on their tongues or anything like that, Dart says. It just tastes like nothing. In other words, they found a loophole: Nutraloaf is not cruel; its just unusual. Soon it may cease to be either.
On the one hand, it sounds like something out of a dreadfully dark, dystopian SciFi novel.
On the other hand, it should become standard fare (24/7/365) for inmates in Guantanamo Bay.
I just outfitted a survival bag for my personal plane and I purchase a box of mainstay bars. They are basically the same thing. I ate one out of curiosity and it’s not half bad.
I LOVE that idea!
Especially if they were made with pork by products.
I do believe this was invented in military messes many years ago.
My first wife beat them to it...
“Nutraloaf is rowdy prisoners!” /Heston
Make our prisons more like the Japanese Prisons and feed them this stuff and we will be starting out on the way to making this country better in no time.
Excellent! My idea was to feed all prisoners organ scraps, oatmeal, and a vitamin pill, but this is virtually the same.
Looks better than fruitcake.
Looks a bit burnt around the edges, but at least that will give it texture.
Frank Zappa talked about something called “Confinement loaf”
on his 1988 album Broadway the Hard Way. Same thing?
Dining Critic Tries Cornbread, the Prison Food for Misbehaving Presidents
She served it in bowls and my father, who has a high metabolism and will eat anything, asked what it was and she said, "It is Glump Stew."
Nobody touched it.
We had Kentucky Fried Chicken that night.
Make it freely available everywhere and to everyone. Those who don't need it won't eat it; those who refuse to eat it because it's not tasty... well, they clearly don't need food assistance. Unlike food stamps, it can't be used as cuirrency in underground economies... nobody is goign to trade freely available nutraloaf for crack or cash.
Our food was so bad on the Princeton, that we would steal “C” and “K” rations from the grunts. On one Pacific crossing, we got SOS for breakfast, chicken a la king for lunch and chop suey for supper, EVERY SINGLE DAY.