All it takes is some basic chemistry knowledge, a little creativity, and "the courage to drop a live wire into a cup of water."
That's from ex-con Daniel Genis writing in Thrillist today about the best recipes he made while serving a 10-year prison sentence for armed robbery. "I was a good cook before I went to prison," Genis writes. "Now… I am twice the chef I was; I can cook everything out of anything." Among Genis' favorite jail-cell recipes:
- "Electrified crackhead soup." To make this, a prisoner simply needs to separate the two sides of a nail clipper, attach each side to the positive and negative wires of a power cord, plug the cord into an electrical outlet, and drop the clipper sides into a cup filled with the cold running water available in each cell. Salt the water and then drop the uncooked noodles into the now vigorously boiling water.
- "Jailhouse sous-vide pasta." With no container available to boil enough water to make a pound of spaghetti, Genis learned about the magic of the trash bag from his cell neighbor. Dry spaghetti noodles could be added to a trash bag full of boiling water, while a separate bag containing ingredients for a basic tomato sauce was dropped into the boiling water as well. "It looked like he was simmering a softball," Genis says, "but it was a decent marinara."
- "Jack Mack set-ups." The baseline form of sustenance in prison is canned mackerel, which is pretty unappetizing on its own — until it's fried. With cooking oil unavailable, oil could be extracted from a boiled jar of mayonnaise, which was then added to a jerry-rigged fryer made from a deconstructed hot pot and two different size cans. The fish was breaded with crushed crackers and chips.