One of the perks of having a food bloggeur extraordinaire for a brother is that you get the inside scoop on food blog trends. The scuttlebutt is that, inspired by the blog Dead Man Eating, which details the final meals eaten by Death Row inmates, Rich spent part of the spring and summer writing an entirely new secret underground blog called Eat Richly: Rural State Prisons Edition. I couldn't figure out the web address but Eric managed to snag a few of the entries using a Google cache situation- nice work, Eric:
Hey web surfers and surfettes, sorry this blog was so hard to find. But it'll be well worth the effort. Basically the deal is this: over the next few months, I am going to travel to prisons all over America and get to have a few bites of various prisoners' last meals, and then I will review them for your reading pleasure. Whoops! Can't blog anymore today, I've got to catch a flight to Birmingham!
Tuscaloosa State Penitentiary, Tuscaloosa, AL
While baby-smotherer Jimmie Ray Scruggs's chosen menu of Fried Calamari, Pepperoni Pizza, Tuna Casserole, and chocolate covered pretzels lacked overall cohesiveness, I must say that the chef did a fine job of bringing the meal together. In an innovative twist, the inmates are the chefs at this rustic gem, and T-Bone is a regular Anthony Bourdain. Don't miss the fried calamari, which is both crispy and tasty, and is so fresh you'd swear they cooked it right on the electric chair! It's to die for!
Darden Federal Prison, Des Moines, IA
Jonas "the Bonus" Janovic presented quite a contrast with Jimmie Ray. Oh, quick note on Jonas's nickname- he saw Con Air in the late '90s and figured that "the Bonus" would be really menacing like "the Virus"; no one had the heart (or the spine) to tell this triple threat child molester/murderer/library book stealer that the name was a non sequitur. As it turns out, Jonas had worked for some time as a line chef at one of the fanciest restaurants in Dubuque, La Vache Folle. With "the Bonus" as my meal designer, I was in for a real treat. We dined on garlic crabs, steak tar tar and foie gras, and shared a bottle of 1988 Merlot. Magnifique! Since Jonas and I were on the same mental wavelength (though not electric wavelength!), I'll let Jonas describe the meal himself-- "My one complaint would be that the garlic crabs were a little garlicky, but at least they were flavorful. Other than that, the merlot was superb- I've always said 1988 was the best year- it was a very dry summer. The steak tar tar had just the right dash of salt to bring out the bouquet of flavors. Finally, the foie gras was so creamy, I think they might have been feeding the geese foie gras themselves!" Move over 'et tu, Brute'- THOSE are some last words!
Spokane State Prison, Spokane, WA
When I was told I would dine with Da'Wayne Buchanan, a 300-lb former Washington State linebacker from Louisiana, I figured I was in for some tasty soul/cajun food. Boy was I wrong! Apparently, Da'Wayne decided it would be a good idea to go on a diet- maybe he wanted to make sure he could fit through those pearly gates! Da'Wayne was in here in the first place for slicing and dicing a 10-year-old girl like a vine-ripened tomato, so it's fitting that the first item on the menu was a modified Cobb salad with vine-ripened tomatoes. The modified Cobb salad was actually surprisingly delicious, but I felt compelled to explain to Da'Wayne that "despite what Dr. South Beach might tell you, bacon is an important counterpoint to the avocado, and I read an article in the Science Times saying Dairy's not even that bad for you." For the entree, Da'Wayne chose a delicious cut of organic salmon. Though the warden's wife Margie, who was a really nice lady, offered to fillet the salmon, I chose to eat the whole body including its head (that's how they do it in CHINA- jowls and all!). Well something set Da'Wayne off, and maybe it was the overwhelming smell of death from the fish head (we'll never know), but we had to cut short this marvelous meal. Though the food was very tasty, obviously the experience left something to be desired- let's just say this was no Last Supper!
Chino State Penitentiery, Chino, CA
Today's dinnermate was Rico Manuel Gabriel Noriega Diaz Gomez Lopez- what a mouthful, almost as much of a mouthful as those grande burritos at the Chino cafeteria! It turns out that Rico read this blog before meeting me, and was very excited that I would be reviewing his meal, almost as excited as he was when he choked his 94-year-old grandmother to death with a bicycle chain! He chose a predominantly Mexican meal, not only because it is the food he was weaned on, but because he felt Eat Richly: Rural State Prisons Edition was lacking in Latin American options - good call, Rico. The aforementioned burritos were tender and tasty, and the salsa piquante drizzled on top had just the right amount of kick. The guac, on the other hand, left much to be desired. Especially considering that California is the land of the avocado, the Chino chefs were very stingy with their 'cados, making up the remainder of the volume with some sort of translucent liquid that I hope was water- I told them to hold the sodium pentathol! But all was forgiven when we finished the meal off with some flan that would make Jason Congdon weep like Dan when he loses to me in Wii Tennis. It was to die for!