On Friendship, Eegee's, and the Culinary Side of the Prison Industrial Complex
In May 2017, I picked up a copy of Edible Baja Arizona and found “Sentences That End With Food,” an article by an incarcerated journalist about culinary culture inside of Tucson’s prison complex. The author, Joe Watson, described how his friends and acquaintances made ice cream, menudo, and lasagna out of commissary-available ingredients like instant cocoa, pork rinds, and ramen noodles; and how preparing and eating this improvised food became a way to temporarily escape the dehumanization of mass incarceration. The piece—accompanied by illustrations of dishes like red velvet soda cake and chimichangas covered in squeeze cheese—expanded my idea of what was possible within prison walls.
Watson met tattoo artist Clyde Hardin while they were both incarcerated, and the two friends bonded by preparing meals together. When Watson was released in 2017, Hardin picked him up, and they drove directly to Hardin’s favorite restaurant, Serial Grillers, for a meal. Shortly thereafter, I met Watson through my work at a literary arts organization, where he’s now a colleague (he’s also a communications consultant for American Friends Service Committee-Arizona and the host of the ReFraming Justice podcast). Watson and Hardin agreed to sit down with me—at Serial Grillers, no less!—to talk about food injustice in prison, and how cooking together allowed them to forge a bond that defied the de facto segregation of the Arizona facilities where they spent time. What follows is a conversation that is as much about friendship as it is about food, offering a deep dive into the culinary side of the prison industrial complex as well as moments where the friends lovingly bicker over incarceration reform and just how delicious an Eegee’s slushy really is.
[Content warning: This interview discusses drug use, as well as weight and diet as it relates to nutrition issues in prison. It also includes some hard language drawn from prison vernacular.]
Can you each tell me a little bit about yourself, and your relationship to food and cooking throughout your life?
Clyde: My relationships to food were not that great as a kid. My parents were pretty much working poor so it would be beef stew in a can, a couple of pieces of bread underneath, that’s it. Or Tuna Helper, Hamburger Helper when we had money. Having to eat that all the time sucked, so that made me go into the refrigerator and into cupboards and I discovered that there were other things that I could cook. I started experimenting. I remember the first thing I ever cooked outside of their purview was jello. I was like, “Well that wasn’t that hard, let me try cornbread.” By the time I was about fourteen and my sister was four-years-old, I would look after her at night. My parents came home around ten, eleven o’clock at night, sometimes later. One day my dad came in early from a shift—like eight-thirty—and I had three pots going, I was full fledged cooking, I had garlic bread in the oven, and he was like, “What the hell?” I was like, “Well, I got tired of canned goods.” I hate canned goods now if I’m being honest.
My teens were cool. My parents’ financial situation got a little better so we were able to eat more than just canned goods or food stamp-available stuff--food boxes were a whole thing for me when I was growing up. I would say around the end of high school, that’s when I figured out selling drugs and that put me in a different tax bracket for food. I could eat what I wanted. In the middle of that were a couple of stints of incarceration and then I’d go back to basic poor food, and now that I’m in my thirties I have a great relationship to food. I cook all the time. I enjoy it. It’s always healthier stuff. Although I do like my decadence. I know where I came from so I’m happy.
Joe: When I was younger I only cooked when I was running away from home. I remember several times when I would run away from home from the time I was like three years old until I was like eight or nine, ten years old, where I would always fry some bologna before leaving. Wrapping it up and squeezing some mustard on it. I was ready for my journey.
Clyde: Across the street?!
Joe: Yeah, right! Most of the time it was, that was where I would end up. I got so far away. They found me sleeping on a golf course when I was three-years-old, on one of the greens. Early in the morning some golfers found me. In second or third grade, I remember this kid wanted to tag along and I was like, “Ugh, now I got to get some food to take care of him.” So we got some Jiffy Pop, peanut butter, and I got a pack of matches. We went out into the middle of the woods and ate our popcorn and peanut butter.
Maybe on Saturdays I would make myself a bowl of Count Chocula. When I was a kid, it was the 1970s and 80s and food was becoming more convenient, so I didn’t learn much about cooking. As I got older, I thought of cooking as a way to impress women.
Clyde: Of course it is!
Joe: I learned how to make the simplest stuff I could, like pasta and alfredo sauce. I wasn’t incarcerated until I was thirty-five-years-old so I did have a period in there where, you know, the older you get and the yuppier and bougier you get you start to learn how to cook certain things. You have access to better food. You know, like Whole Foods. With my career as a journalist I started to become more successful. So I could afford better food and I could afford the time and effort to learn how to cook better food. That was completely reversed when I went to prison.
Clyde: That made me think of something. You were talking about having to cook out of necessity. I remember when I was younger and my folks found out I was cooking stuff other than what they put on the countertop, my mom was super cool about it. She was like, “Cool, you’re gonna be self-sufficient when you grow up. And besides, girls like guys who cook.” I took that straight to heart. Instead of taking you out on a date let’s do something that’s fun and then I’ll cook for you. That used to be part of the game, that I was well rounded. Having books on the shelves and being able to cook meant you were cultured at twenty-two. You were so far above or beyond everyone else.
I pass that down to my kids now. [My older son], he’s ten and he’s good. He wants eggs and bacon and I’m like, “Alright, cool.” Twenty minutes later he’s got himself a meal, his little brother a meal, and he’s trying to figure out how to make a sandwich out of it or toasting bagels and I’m like, “Have at it!” What I figured out he’ll figure out sooner when it comes to food, taste buds, wanting to try stuff, and just being self-sufficient.
Could you talk about the food and nutrition challenges that incarcerated individuals face? I know that it varies depending on where you’re incarcerated.
Clyde: For sure. I think it’s different from bunk to bunk and bed to bed. Again, financial standing plays a big part in that. I would say early on, because of the custody place that I was at, you were forced to go to meals. Breakfast, lunch, dinner--you had to go.
Joe: To eat what we would call state food.
Clyde: To eat state food, yeah for sure. I hated it from day one. There was never a meal that I was like, “I’m stoked about this!” Not ever, ever, ever.
Joe: I was in Sheriff Arpaio’s Fourth Avenue Jail. From what I understand, the food is a lot different now from what it was then, but it was slop. It was disgusting, to me it was inedible. So I didn’t eat it. There were people who would eat as much as they could because they had nothing at all to eat before coming to jail. They were just like, “I got to eat, I’m detoxing I got to eat.” I was coming from a lot of privilege, so I was like, “I’m not eating this shit.” It wasn’t like I was replacing it with food that I could purchase—when I got to jail I didn’t have any money. I had a public defender, nobody was putting my money on my books, nothing like that. But because so many people were starving they were like, “I’ll eat anything, go ahead and give me your slop, I’ll eat it.” I would trade with them—they would give me their morning peanut butter and bread and I would eat that for dinner. Pretty much for almost three years all I had every day was like four peanut butter sandwiches. And in the course of the three and a half years I was in the county jail I lost about forty pounds. Then when I got to prison, unlike Clyde I was like, “Oh my god this is the greatest food ever.” Because I had just gone through three and a half years of nothing but peanut butter sandwiches. When I got to prison, all of a sudden we were getting, what was it, not suitable for human consumption chicken?
Clyde: Which is kind of a misleading label. What it really is is chicken that was cut for feed. It was really made for bait. For sharks, water life.
Joe: You worked in chow for a little while right? So you would see those boxes?
Clyde: Yeah and on the boxes you would see “not for human consumption” but you were feeding thousands of inmates with this. But an easy google search for anybody you had on the outside could tell you—
Joe: It’s fine.
Clyde: It’s just feed. I never lost sight of the fact that every item of food that was ever given to me on the conveyor belt was bought by the lowest bidder. Is it nutritious? Probably not. But it gives you enough calories for that human being to function throughout his day. When I would go to the chow hall—which was often, it’s not like I never did—I never put salt and pepper, I didn’t try to add things. I wanted it to be the worst fucking food possible—excuse my language—to remember. “No, I’m not putting ketchup on that, I’m not putting salt on this horrible ass soup. I want to remember that these carrots suck. And that this broccoli tastes like shit. I want to remember that this Salisbury patty is cardboard. Juicy cardboard.”
Joe: At first I was like, “This is the best damn Salisbury patty I ever had.”
Clyde: By the time you were done you were like, “Fuck this patty.”
Joe: That took about a year.
Clyde: It was just the lowest grade of food that could be sold. I would bring a bunch of stuff to chow hall to make a meal out of things.
Joe: Stuff that you had to buy from commissary. My perspective changed a lot. The first year that I was in prison I was so thankful that I had that food. And I would see people like Clyde who, the whole time that I knew Clyde he would get big sacks of commissary. So at first when I got to prison I would see these people buy huge massive sacks of food and I’d be like, “What’s this idiot doing? We get free food at the chow hall! It’s not Joe Arpaio’s slop, what more could you want? Save that money.” As I said, that took about a year, and then I was like, “I got to get a job that pays me better than fifteen cents an hour so that I can afford to buy those big sacks of commissary.”
Clyde: And really it wasn’t big sacks of commissary, it was like, “Let me buy foods that will supplement the bullshit I have to eat.” Cuz there’s plenty of meals that we all skipped regularly. There would be some weeks where I went Saturday and Sunday, cuz you got milk, and then maybe Tuesday. No man can survive on that and be healthy. So you had to supplement it. That’s where ramen noodles came into play, buying peanut butter from a guy who worked in the kitchen, you’d buy two jellies from the kitchen. Onions from people. Bags of cheese, or bags of beans. You could make meals piecing stuff together that was at least decent to you. “Hey I wanna bean dip.” You got mozzarella cheese, salsa, beans, and chips, and you were golden.
Joe: I don’t know what the truth is—I haven’t looked it up since—but I remember when we were locked up the talk was always that they had to provide us with either 2000 or 2500 calories every day. A lot of guys complained that there’s no way that was 2500 calories a day. I don’t know if it was, if I ate nothing but chow hall food I don’t think I personally would have been hungry but everybody’s different.
Clyde: If you’re me, your metabolism is just as high as you were when you were twenty-three. I have to take protein and work out differently to gain weight. I can’t just sit sedentary to gain wait, I’m not that human being, I burn too much. So no, I don’t think I could have. I was already on the slim side but I would have come out really small.
Joe: Another thing is getting fresh fruit and vegetables is difficult. Most of the stuff is processed. They tell you that they’re not gonna give you fresh fruit because they don’t want you making hooch. The vegetables, often we hear that they get a lot of that stuff donated and so they’re in short supply or whatever.
So they’re not actually buying vegetables?
Clyde: How about this? You go into a restaurant as a free human being and you order broccoli, you’re gonna get broccoli. If you go to prison and you get broccoli on your dish, it’s stems. Only. Now as a business person, I’m selling the same stalk twice. I’m cutting the heads, giving it to the restaurant and making money, and then the stalks I probably used to throw away the prison system buys. So that’s all profit. I didn’t see a head of broccoli ever in there. Maybe pieces, but it was stalks. I’m not complaining, I understood what it was, but I was just like, “Damn. When you’re able to sell the same piece of fruit or vegetable twice, you’re winning.”
Joe: It’s funny--you and I, now that I remember it, we never complained to each other about the food. A lot of people did, you know? It wears thin on you after a while like, “Look man, I’m just trying to get through this, I don’t need to be reminded. I’m just trying to make the best of what I have.” That’s another challenge. But I guess you deal with it.
Joe, you begin your essay “Sentences that End with Food,” about cooking culture in prisons, with the line: “Every Saturday afternoon, Matt Patton helps me escape from prison, 18 ounces at a time.” You’re referring to an incarcerated cook that made and sold homemade ice cream. Can each of you talk a about the work incarcerated cooks do and cooking culture within prisons?
Joe: Yeah. So there are people who are kind of designated cooks. Arizona’s prison are segregated.
Joe: Self-segregated. They’re in the process of being integrated now but they’re self segregated--I would say that that’s sanctioned by the state because the state allows it. The state kind of roots for it because it helps them manage the population. But nevertheless, each race has a designated cook in each of their pods—the guy who can cook. So when people are struggling to eat, the people with the money, they’ll try to get some money together to feed everybody. So you have those people who know how to make burritos, know how to make menudo, know how to make sweet-and-sour pork, know how to make nachos. Like I said in the essay, getting all of the supplies, utensils, everything, spices, all that, to cook for yourself is like a rite of passage. All the stuff you have to cook with is as much a sign of the time you’ve done as [my tattoo] sleeves are.
Clyde: The more efficient you become, too. Not needing anybody else. I wasn’t a big fan of other people cooking my food other than the group that I was a part of. For me, I don’t want to do a big group thing, I just want to do my own time my own way, eat my own thing how I want it and how my friends want it. [Joe] was a big part of that, Gator, what, five, six of us over those years?
Joe: Yeah. So part of our time we did together in a private prison in Kingman. Probably about three years together there. That was in the second half of my incarceration.
Clyde: My tail end.
Joe: Yeah, the tail end of his. He and I and another friend of ours nicknamed Gator, the three of us would cook together most often. We’d make burritos together, Fat Bastards--which are bagels filled with chili beans and cheese and rice and peppers--stuff like that. It’s funny, I feel like prison food that you cook when you’re in there is a lot like this food here. It’s basically bar food.
Clyde: It’s like the meal I just had. Mozzarella sticks under a bunch of patties, cheese all over it all, bacon and a toasted bun and it’s just like somebody cobbled this thing together and was like, “This is America, this is what we do, we overindulge.” When we would cook we would overindulge because we had such shitty food available to us on the daily, store day was bomb for us.
Joe: And for practical reasons. You have no way to preserve your food. So you have to eat it. It’s either eat it or it goes bad. You eat and then you sleep because you’ve eaten so much.
Then there was kind of—for him and Gator there wasn’t that much of a concern of this but being a white guy, to eat with him and Gator was more of an issue for me.
Clyde: There was a racial component.
Joe: Yeah, there was a racial component. Technically speaking, it was forbidden for the two of us to eat together. When we’d go to the chow hall, we absolutely could not sit at the same table.
Clyde: We could walk there, and walk away from there. But once that tray was in your hand, you had to go to your separate areas.
Joe: So it made me feel—
Clyde: Badassery? Living on the edge?
Joe: It gave me some autonomy. Not going to chow hall and eating with Clyde and Gator was like, “Fuck you segregation, fuck you racists, fuck you prison politics.”
Clyde: Fuck you higher ups! For me it was, “I get along with this individual beyond our circumstances.” I knew that I was gonna be cool with you when we were both free again. I knew after all the orange uniforms, bad food, you would be the one who I would keep most contact with. I just got lucky that you moved here. One of my closest friends in life now lives in the same city I live in. I can’t beat that.
Joe: Was that your question or was it more about the concerns that we had about people who would cook food for us and would sell the food?
Clyde: I think the question--I mean it’s open ended but there’s also another way to interpret it. You gotta realize that inmates were cooking the food that was on the conveyor belt. I’ll be honest with you, I worked in a couple of kitchens and I know the habits of some of those individuals. Some of those individuals would go to their job in the kitchen and I’m not even kidding you, eight or nine deep sharing one needle before it was time to serve, no problem. You miss a vein, you bleed a little bit, it’s okay, throw some water on it you’re alright. And you’re about to go serve my broccoli stalks right now? Naw, I can’t do that. I remember they use to rub that thermometer on our foreheads to make sure we weren’t sick, hairnet, and that was it.
Again, you’re being forced to eat that food, that’s what’s available to you. You’ve been stripped of that right to eat as a free person would so you have to eat like that. But seeing those habits, I always made sure to get in good standing with the guards that worked that kitchen duty, because I could get on that morning shift and I could have that fried egg if I wanted to. Because I was good with the officer and I’d be the first one in there and I’d have that privilege in the kitchen of being able to go into the back room that was locked up and cook the diets’ foods and that stuff. I would eat off the diet menu all the time. [Interviewer’s note: A diet menu is served to incarcerated individuals with food allergies or religious restrictions on what they are able to eat.]
Did cooking while incarcerated and eating food prepared by other inmates—in this case you might think about people you liked cooking with—impact your physical and mental health and well-being while incarcerated? If so, how?
Joe: Yeah, it made me feel connected. If you don’t have people to eat with or cook with, there are really very few opportunities to connect with people on the inside.
Clyde: Yeah for sure.
Joe: Or on the outside, right?
Clyde: Or how bout legitimate connections? You can still connect with people it’s just gonna be very artificial. Cooking is fundamental to everybody. Whether it’s good for or bad food, every culture has that grandma food, has that dope recipe, I don’t care who you are. Everybody has that handed down recipe.
Joe: We had handed down recipes in prison.
Clyde: Yeah, for sure.
I always searched for people who had their heads on correctly and were just honest in themselves and I felt bonded with them. How tenuous that bond was, I don’t know. The more meals being cooked the tighter the bond I guess? I just felt bonded with those individuals more than I did people of my same race that I had to deal with or people that I played on basketball teams with or baseball teams with. Those relationships didn’t matter but daily, this individual matters every day. Knowing that Joe was okay, whether I had to go visit you in the library or just come bother you at your bunk and give you a hard time because I had energy and was animated—I could do that with him legitimately and be okay. It was because we sat down and waited for our Fat Bastards to cook or we did some of the rolling for the burritos that we made. It was just deeper.
Joe: And it’s good that you make the distinction—eating food cooked by your fellow prisoners—because that’s different from being in the chow hall with your friends. Because when you’re in the chow hall, you still don’t want your back facing the door. You’re still always on guard. But when you cook together back in the dorm, it’s a lot more relaxing, it’s just like we’re sitting here talking right now. It’s one of those moments where everything else is kind of washed away and you’re thinking clearly. You’re not stressed and you have some of your best ideas and your best conversations. You’re not worried about anything. It’s your home for that period of time. It’s a much more relaxed environment for relationships and you know there’s a real level of intimacy in eating together.
Clyde: It’s like a microcosm of Thanksgiving. At Thanksgiving, you have your family members that you haven’t seen in a year or longer and your differences are put aside and you just legitimately bond because that is your family, that is your blood, that is your loyalty there. For me, eating with you guys was like a mini version of that. It was like, “This is my family while I’m here.” I don’t know if I’m going to continue being family with this guy when we’re gone but here, right now, this is what I got. This is my guy, this is who I look for, who I look after, this is who I vent to, be vulnerable with, and it’s the same thing you do with your family. If that dude needs a dollar bill, I got it. If that dude needs a ride, I got it. I picked Joe up [from prison] and was like, “We’re coming here to eat. This is one of my favorite places, do not worry about a single dollar. You’re my dude, you’re my family now.” That’s what it was for me, period.
Joe: On the inside, Monday through Friday you technically get three meals a day. You get breakfast, lunch and dinner. Lunch, depending on the yard, is either a sack or a hot meal and dinner—depending on the level or security yard—is either a sack or a hot meal. If it’s a sack for dinner it’s lunch meat. On Saturday and Sunday you only get two meals. You get breakfast and you get dinner. That’s it. People tend to do more cooking together, so they can pool their resources, on Saturday and Sundays. And we do have prison jobs and a lot of them are Monday through Friday—a lot of people work outside the gate and that’s a Monday through Friday kind of thing—so more people are back on the yard on Saturdays and Sundays. In Arizona’s prisons. Saturdays and Sundays—in the free world they’re chill days and they’re kind of chill days in prison, too.
Clyde: Especially if it’s football season.
Joe: Mhmm. Football season oh my gosh.
What efforts can be made to improve the food and nutrition situation in US jails and prisons?
Clyde: It’s not like I’m super privy to it, but I know that the juvenile system takes a lot more effort to make sure their nutrition values are there and that the juveniles are fed proper. It actually took a lawsuit many, many years ago because juveniles were being served just as much as adults, which isn’t enough. You can’t do that with a child that’s still growing. Someone under the age of eighteen is considered a minor and you need to treat him as such. So one instance where you could improve the food and nutrition situation is to look at the juvenile system. It probably costs a little more, but they’re better fed. Being better fed, some of those hangry moments won’t be there, some of the bartering won’t be there—bartering leads to a lot of issues. I know that’s one option that’s viable. And it’s there, it’s immediate. The research is there. It’s just like, “Okay, how are they doing? Are they growing? Are they losing weight? Weight fluctuations?” Ask the inmates. “How is your chicken? It’s got skin on it this time.” After that though, in a weird sadistic way, I don’t think it should be improved if I’m being honest, I don’t think so dawg. I’m weird that way though.
Joe: I think you give too much credit to the Department of Corrections and the prison system and the way that it works for who you are today.
Clyde: No, no, no, no, no, I just feel like if you break the law you should be deprived of certain things.
Joe: No, no, no, you should be held accountable. You should be healed and you should be held accountable.
Joe: No, no, no, that’s punishment. Deprivation is punishment. Nobody’s saying that you have to have gourmet food but, first of all, edible food. So are you fine with people eating Joe Arpaio's slop for ten years?
Clyde: I don’t know, I’m not in that system, I’ve never been a part of it. I’ve only heard the bad stuff about it.
Joe: That’s all it is is slop, it’s inedible slop. Anyway, one way that they can improve food in prison is to stop looking at food as punishment.
Clyde: Oh, here’s a better way. Stop treating food as something you can probably get cheaper elsewhere. I was there for maybe eight months in the kitchen and we changed vendors multiple times. They tried to get the cheapest shit available and you could tell. Every time the box changed it was just worse.
Joe: So look, a lot of people end up in prison—this is my big theory I guess—because they’re on the outside and they haven’t experienced a lot of opportunity and privilege. For whatever reason a lot of them might do something to get that privilege, right? There are prisons in other countries that give people in prison certain privileges that they’ve never experienced before to show them, “Look, this is what it’s like to be treated like a human being. This is what it’s like to be treated with some decency.” I think that’s what they should do with food in prison. Treat it as something that’s like, “This is what it’s like to be treated decently. We’re gonna give you good edible food that sustains you.” I’m not talking about this bar food here, I’m talking about good food. Good for you and is good quality.
Clyde: Yeah, as for your experience, I remember it was in the paper while we were still in prison that the dogs in Maricopa County that were gonna be euthanized, it cost more to feed them than to feed an inmate in Maricopa.
That’s extremely dehumanizing.
Clyde: Yeah, are you serious? It cost more for a dog’s processed food than to feed an actual human being its three meals in a day? Are you fucking serious? Do you know how cheap that bread is? Do you know how enriched that flour is to produce that bread? Everything is stripped from it and then they put it back in as a chemical, that’s why it tastes like shit. Broccoli stalks, they taste like shit. It’s the remains of an actual real broccoli.
Joe: I honestly think it’s about punishment. Everybody’s heard “hurt people hurt people,” right? You continue to punish people in these ways, people are not gonna heal. Treat food as something that can heal.
Clyde: That’s some Anthony Bourdain shit. He’s like that. He’s like, “What, a home cooked meal? There’s nothing better. It solves every issue.”
Joe: Yeah, I think a lot of the healing that took place for me personally happened when Clyde and I ate together. The food that we were able to prepare for each other was better than the chow hall food. It cost us money, but in the end it was worth it.
Clyde: It puts your mind into such a different place. Your first bite into it. I could look at him and be like, “This shit’s good” and he’s like, “Yeah man, it’s fucking dope. That extra package of cheese did it.” And then automatically I’m in a better state cuz then I want to talk about something else equally as cool or equally as good, instead of, “Man this fucking shit, tastes like shit.”
How has your relationship to food and cooking changed since you’ve been released?
Joe: I can eat whatever I want now. I think that having the experience of being deprived of so much food, when you get out it kind of motivates you to go shopping for good food. It did for me, especially at first. I’d go to Food City and get all the produce that I could and go home, eat some fresh vegetables and fruit. Oh my god, bananas, I went through so many bananas the first three months, bunches and bunches of bananas constantly. But it’s obviously not just being formerly incarcerated, I’m married now and my wife’s an amazing cook and I think we’re happiest when we’re cooking together. It’s a lot of fun. I also think that maybe it’s similar in a lot of ways—when I’m eating with people that I love, just like I ate with people that I loved inside, it’s still the best time.
Clyde: I’ve been home for three-plus years and any opportunity to eat is an opportunity to eat good food. I’ll eat Eegee’s and shit like that still but Sprout’s is down the street from me, Whole Foods is a little further than that. Like Joe I had no problem tearing down fruits, vegetables, all of that. And then I think I got a little lucky in my situation when I came home, a woman that I was a part of wasn’t even from America. Her taste buds were crazy insane, extremely cultured and she was a trained chef. I got double lucky by having ambitious taste buds but she was like, “I feel like cooking blah blah blah from scratch” and I was like, “Great! Opportunity to eat great food!” I don’t like going to restaurants and getting what I usually get. If it’s in a restaurant, try new shit. I didn’t eat any sushi before I got out.
Joe: Oh yeah, now you’re more adventurous? Same here, man, I won’t turn down food.
Clyde: Yeah. Or just opportunities to try something new. The Korean BBQ that opened down the street, I was there the day it opened. I never had Korean BBQ before.
Joe: The deprivation was good motivation at first and then the busier that I got, the more work that I had, the more I used the fact that I was deprived of a Haagen Dazs and crap food and cheeseburgers and all that stuff, then I was like, “You know what, it’s okay. I know it’s crap but I was deprived of it for ten years.”
Clyde: I won’t eat anything that’s peanut butter related.
Joe: Oh, I don’t eat peanut butter. I don’t really eat much in the way of pancakes. Stuff like that. But yeah, like I said, the fact that I did that much time I’ve kind of used to justify eating—
Clyde: Whatever you want.
Clyde: Whatever you want. Waking up and being able to put whatever you want in your body, on top of it, next to it!
Joe: And there’s more stress. The farther I’m removed from prison, the more I’m back in the grind and overwhelmed and stressed out. I have three jobs.
And finally: What’s your favorite thing to cook or eat right now?
Joe: Pork, pork, and pork. Bacon, pork belly, pork chops, pork tenderloin, pork. I love pork, we didn’t have pork at all for over ten years, and I love pork and thank goodness my wife it’s her favorite thing to eat too. So we cook a lot of pork together.
Clyde: I have to say California rolls tempura and a strawberry Eegee’s. I literally will go get the Eegee’s first and we drive to whatever sushi restaurant we want to eat at and I have that sitting on my table.
That’s such a specific combo!
Joe: When they transferred me from Kingman to the Tucson prison, it was the first time I’d ever really spent any significant time in Tucson. But I’d see Tucson commercials and I’d be like, “What’s this Eegee’s crap?!”
Clyde: Watch your mouth!
Joe: And then of course, once I got out and had an Eegee’s I was like, “Oh, okay, yeah.” I love Eegee’s.
Sweet & Sour Chicken, Beef and Pork
1 bag of Cactus Annie’s Hot & Spicy Pork Rinds (2 oz)
2 Jack Links Beef Summer Sausages
2 packages of Brushy Creek chicken breast (4.5 oz ea.)
1 bag of Keefe instant rice (8 oz)
2 pouches of salted peanuts (1 oz ea.)
1 bag of Snyder’s jalapeno pretzels (12 oz)
1/2 bag of Sweet Fusion instant iced tea mix (12 oz)
1 cup of El Pato Green Jalapeno Hot Sauce
1 whole onion
Slice and dice onion and sausages; place into mixing bowl with chicken breast. Mix instant iced tea and El Pato sauce into a thick paste; pour into mixing bowl and stir. Move bowl contents into a plastic bag; tie tightly and boil in a half-gallon of water in Styrofoam cooler for an hour. Remove bag from cooler, open, and add pork rinds, pretzels and peanuts. Place bag back in boiling water for 30 minutes. While the bag is cooking, boil rice in pouch; once cooked, split contents of sticky rice into two bowls and mold the rice into the shape of each bowl to maximize space. Remove bag from cooler, untie, and let sit for five minutes. Pork rinds should be chewy, not soggy, and sauce should be syrupy. Pour contents over rice. Serves 2.