A Prisoner’s Meal Fit for an Audience

One of the performances slated this week for RADAR L.A. is  State of Incarceration, political theater from the Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD). The work explores and tells stories about living conditions in California state prisons.  In the next few days, we’ll have a related profile piece, a review of the show, and a video tour of Skid Row, an area known for one of the largest homeless populations in the country, in downtown Los Angeles.

photo: courtesy of Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD)

But first, a brief discussion of prison food. At the end of State of Incarceration, a communal meal is served. As the character Pretty Ronnie says, “This food is for the ones (prisoners) who were denied food.”  Each prisoner contributes items – some stashed under beds – like packets of ramen, to create “The Spread.” The crispy noodles are poured into a clear trash bag, combined with the other ingredients; hot water is poured on top and the mix is kneaded together.

I have to admit, I didn’t try it (I don’t eat meat), but the majority of the audience had at least a taste. And many left behind an empty bowl.

Here’s the recipe for “The Spread”

  • 18 packages of soup Ramen noodles: beef-chicken-oriental-shrimp
  • 2 bags of Cheetos chips-cheese 1 bag original flavor and 1 hot
  • 1 bag tortilla chips, guacamole flavor
  • 2 packs crackers-original flavor
  • 1 pack of big flour tortillas
  • 1 jar light mayo
  • 1 jar sliced jalapeños- hot
  • 1 jar sliced pickles
  • 12 oz. turkey bologna
  • 1 pack of small beef sausages
  • 4 packs of light tuna in water
  • plenty of garlic
  • hot water

Courtesy of Los Angeles Poverty Department

State of Incarceration. RADAR L.A. Wednesday-Saturday, June 15-18 at Los Angeles Theatre Center (LATC). 213-237-2800.