Honeycombers reports that on June 16 and 17, Netflix will be renting out Singapore’s OverEasy cafe and hiring Singaporean chef Bjorn Shen to cook up traditional prison food with a gourmet flair and serve it to whoever drops in, free of charge, as a promotion for the upcoming season four of Netflix original Orange is the New Black, which will release on June 17.
It is a common misconception that prison food is simply a worse version of “normal food,” like something one might be served on an airplane or in a 1940s middle school cafeteria. Actually, though, prison food is very distinct; one could say there is a prison cuisine.
For example, one of the better-known and more controversial prison food delicacies that you normally have to commit a terrible crime to gain access to is nutraloaf, a soft, bland, slightly nutty combination of meat, beans, grains, undercooked vegetables, and definitely no spices. The page linked to above has an actual nutraloaf recipe, if you want to try it yourself (not recommended). Basically, the ingredients are mashed together into a loaf and then cooked in an oven until they are no longer toxic before being served with a side of water. As the name suggests, the food is meant purely as a source of nutrition and is intentionally made by prisons to be totally tasteless.
Misbehaving inmates are often sentenced to eat no food but nutraloaf for up to 21 days — a punishment that Politics and City Life says has proven to be very effective. Forcing it on anyone, even prison denizens, has often been seen as cruel and unusual punishment, though, and Mashable reports a number of lawsuits have been filed against prisons in the past for trying to pass it off as a legitimate food.
Shen and OverEasy Cafe’s “gourmet prison food” version of nutraloaf will retain the usual unappealing appearance, but they are not taking the opportunity to strike fear of prison into the hearts of attendees by feeding them the awful crap they would be forced to eat behind bars. Instead, Shen makes it clear that his food will be much more delectable than that cooked up for prison deviants.
“Since this is not real prison, I’ve made this dish look and feel like a Nutraloaf, but taste much better. Mine’s made of mushrooms, cheddar, quinoa, pumpkin and nori.”
Yeah, that sounds a lot better than the prison food variation, which consists mainly of dry hamburger meat, spinach, unsweetened applesauce, and bread crumbs.
The prison food-inspired menu also includes an appetizer meant to mimic the plain defrosted corn-off-the-cob that might be served in prison. Luckily for attendees, this corn will be a bit fresher than the “real thing” and will be tossed with “spiced butter, jalapenos, cheese, and real lime.”
The nutraloaf will be served as the main course before the prison food parade is wrapped up with dessert, a pudding made from coconut and rice and sprinkled with almond crumble. The dish is supposed to look like prison gruel, but odds are is will taste about 100 times better.
The menu says that everything will be served with “old pipe flavor” drinking water, which you can assume will be on tap.
To amp up the prison vibe, the food will be served on drab plastic trays and no silverware will be given to attendees, reports the Mashable piece. We can only assume that means plasticware will be used, or else eating that “gruel” is going to be quite a spectacle.
Lunch and dinner meals are available at the prison food eatery and they are both free, but it is highly recommended you make reservations if you want to try it. Seats will probably go very quickly. Have you seen Orange is the New Black?
[Photo by John Moore/Getty Images]