For Food Art we have to do a presentation on a history of an address, and since my final is going to be about last meals, I thought I’d do a prison. While putting together my presentation about Tamms Correctional Center (the only closed maximum security prison in IL and home to the former state execution chamber), I came across a lot of references to Nutraloaf (or Nutri-Loaf, Behavioral Loaf, or Discipline Loaf - you get the idea). Each state has its own recipe, but the basic idea is that it needs to be tasteless and unpleasant to eat for three meals a day while still providing all the nutrients somebody needs to stay alive. Usually this is used as punishment or for behavioral modification, so it’s not supposed to be pleasant. Normally, inmates are served “regular” food (although by their accounts, it’s still pretty bad). Nutraloaf is for special occasions and it’s considered safer since no utensils are needed. There have been lawsuits in multiple states about whether or not serving Nutraloaf violates the 8th Amendment (cruel and unusual punishment). So far no court system has judged in favor of the inmates or the human rights groups that have filed suits on their behalf.
So obviously, I thought it’d be fun to make Nutraloaf and try to get my classmates to eat it. It was ridiculously easy to make (I’ve posted the recipe I used below), and I am not opposed to any of the particular ingredients, except maybe the canned spinach which did smell pretty foul. Mash it all up, cook it for 40 minutes and presto - all your necessary vitamins, carbs, and protein. It did smell kind of odd, but not in an unpleasant way.
However, once it came out of the oven, it smelled a little like dog food. After cooling, I cut off a 1 by 1 in. square thinking surely I could choke it down. Nope. Not happening. I made the mistake of smelling it first and started gagging. I fed some to my cats to see what they’d do (they ate that shit up). I broke off a tiny piece and started chewing. It honestly wasn’t that bad at first, but then the dry heaving started. It just got worse. It’s still worse and I’ve drunk a whole cup of water and almost a whole beer. I still want to serve it tomorrow, but I probably also need to bring a chaser or some mints or some shit. Regardless, it’s a pretty good incentive to stay out of prison.
More taste tests here and here.
Recipe (note: this is the vegan version - look up the AV Club taste testing for the meat one)
4 oz Canned, Chopped Spinach
4 oz Canned Carrots, Diced
8 oz Vegetarian Beans
Open and drain all vegetables well.
4 oz Applesauce
1 oz Tomato Paste
1/2 cup Potato Flakes
1 cup Bread Crumbs
1 T Margarine
1 tsp Garlic Powder or Flakes
Combine drained vegetables. Gradually and gently blend in remaining ingredients until well combined but do not over beat. Mixture should be stiff but moist enough to spread. Each loaf should weigh 1 1/2 pounds precooked weight and be scaled to insure proper weight. Place mixture into a loaf pan that has been sprayed with pan release and lined with filter paper.
Each loaf should bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit in convection/steam oven for approximately 40 minutes or until the loaf reaches 155 degrees internal temperature.
Doesn’t it look great?