Thursday, December 31, 2015

Diasporic Dining XXXX: Cuisine Brutal or Solitaire?

Clinton Correctional Facility Dannemora (photo: Bubby 1124)
“New York Prisons Take an Unsavory Punishment Off theTable,” ran The Times headline (NYT, 12/17/15). The story delivered a  recipe for a Nutraloaf or “Disciplinary Loaf” that up until recently was served to prisoners in solitary confinement. And the article went on to describe the cuisine thusly: “Pennsylvania prison chefs cooked up a chickpea version, while Illinois included ground beef and applesauce in its court contested recipe, as well as other ingredients that do not usually go together. The version in New York State prisons used a motley assortment of baking staples and hard-to-overcook vegetables, including shredded carrots and unskinned potatoes. It was served with little more than water, to choke it down, and cabbage as a side.” Yum! You’ve heard of Cuisine Brute. What about Cuisine Brutal or better yet Cuisine Solitaire? The Times described how the loaf was used as a punishment for prisoners who had already "lost their other privileges.” And when you think about it, it’s rather an ingenious idea for wardens who have come to the end of the rope, as it were, in trying to come up with torments that can act as coercions—particularly since real torture—like for instance the use of the Iron Maiden—hasn’t been on the palette or palate in penitentiaries since medieval times. But the question is, could such cuisine, which has traditionally occupied the lowest run on the “food chain,” be rehabilitated and enjoyed by normal diners, who are sick of your usual continental menu. Could Cuisine Brutal become a hot item amongst Alphabet City trendsetters who're always looking for something new to sink their teeth into? Who knows in this day and age when rents are skyrocketing it might even get some apartment dwellers to thinking about solitary as an alternative! Becoming a recalcitrant prisoner in a place like Dannemora may actually turn out to be easier than trying to finding an affordable place in Williamsburg.

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