Prison is one of those places where everyone instantly conjures up an image. By simply closing your eyes a distinct picture of a cell appears. Although the general design and layout will differ, certain facts are seen: toilet, bed, drab, concrete and metal, small, locked, and maybe a slit of a window. In a few words I have conjured an almost universal understanding of the cell.
And as the word implies there are many cells in what is thought of as prison. And of course these cells need infrastructure by way of the common tropes associated with prison: laundry room, yard, weight pile, cell blocks/tiers, guards (although human, guards represent a physical part of prison. They are the viewers within the panopticon, the endless eyes on the other side of one-way glass), and of course the dinning room.
Eating in prison is about much more than food in mouth. Instead, it represents a real part of who the person is. Like everywhere else in prison the dinning facility is completely segregated. There is a black section, white section, Hispanic section, etc. each racially divided group eats separately, guarding their physical position in the dining room. The Jews in the white section eating together further this division, while the Muslim blacks eat separate from other blacks - other commonalities such as sexual preference, geographic, and similarity in crime (for instance, rapists rarely are allowed to eat anywhere but among those of like crimes), create further division.
welcome to prison
The dining hall offers some unique tactical problems for anyone who has an enemy in prison. The constant movement and crowds makes for a convenient distraction if one is going to be killed. But make no mistake, anyone doing this will be grabbed by guards immediately, or shot (along with the possibility other prisoners may be killed).
Most killings in the dining hall are desperate pleas, grandstanding, or suicide attempts. It simply does not make sense to kill someone knowing you will be taken. As for other violence, if you are going to throw down in the dining hall it is just a protective custody (PC) move. Once the first fist hits something the guards are already moving and the both of you are going to be alone for a while, chilling.
No, the reason people avoid the dining hall is because there is nowhere for them to sit. For whatever reason this person is alone. And being alone in prison is darkness. Why they cannot come to the dining hall and eat is ultimately meaningless, what is, is the fact they decide to not get their allowance of food from the authority. Leaving two options: buy food or starve.
The means for a person to buy food in prison is demonstrated by the commissary list. The means of starvation is not eating. Being afraid to go to the dining hall, and not having money, means a slow death, alone, surrounded by those who make you afraid. A daily ritual of survival is getting by on bag lunch from work details and little else per day.
Typical Prison Bag Lunch (brown bag):
☍Four pieces of wheat bread
☍Two pieces of meat slice
☍Two pieces of cheese
☍One fruit (orange or apple, often not given now due to their use in the manufacture of pruno)
☍Several celery and carrot slicks
☍Cookie (very optional)
☍One or two condiment packets
This combination is a very universal formula that equates to one prisoner meal.
So the challenge is to make the brown bag last for a day of food in. The Food Network features a show called Chopped. Here, contestants ingeniously solve the riddles of the basket. What the chefs on the cooking show concoct is three separate parts of one meal (appetizer, entrée, and desert). What the prisoner who cannot go to the dining hall is challenged to do is concoct one day of meals out of the brown bag. Not exactly the same challenge, and of course the brown bag never changes.
The only supplement to the brown bag is the weekly commissary (the prison store. The fcc lompoc commissary list to the left).
The prisoner who is self-isolated must make use of all resources in order to survive. Choppedgives the perfect template to better understand the challenges of the prisoner in-cell diet.
"Chopped is a cooking competition show that is all about skill, speed and ingenuity. Each week, four chefs compete before a panel of expert judges and turn baskets of mystery ingredients into an extraordinary three-course meal. Course by course, the chefs will be "chopped" from the competition until only one winner remains. The challenge? They have seconds to plan and 30 minutes to cook an amazing course with the basket of mystery ingredients given to them moments before the clock starts ticking! And the pressure doesn't stop there. Once they've completed their dish, they've got to survive the Chopping Block where our three judges are waiting to be wowed and not shy about voicing their culinary criticisms! Our host, Ted Allen, leads this high-energy, high-pressure show that will have viewers rooting for a winner and cheering for the losers. Chopped is a game of passion, expertise and skill — and in the end, only one chef will survive the Chopping Block. Who will make the cut? The answer is on Chopped!"
** the Choppedwebsite
Like the TV program, prisoner chopped is a contest, not for judges, but for survival. The task, select three ingrediants from the commissary list and the brown bag and make a meal.
** Unlike its TV conterpart, prisoner chopped is limited on cooking methods. The four main ways of cooking available to cell competitors: