So Kathy co-wrote Commissary Kitchen: My Infamous Prison Cookbook with Prodigy from Mobb Deep. The book’s release was this past Tuesday, the 11th, and they had a book signing at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square. I am so stinking proud of that lady, she is just the best.
I went into the city for the signing, and I’m really, really glad I did. Angie Martinez from Hot 97 moderated a fantastic panel talk they gave on the state of prison food in America. I thought it was just a signing, but I learned a ton about the challenges of eating healthy food in prison, when raw and fresh foods are forbidden.
I am one sheltered human being, that was my main take away. The book has a lot of stories about prison life, about dealing with holidays when you’re away, and the recipes aren’t just things you’d want to make. They’re things that are pretty terrible, but prisoners eat them anyway because they have few options. The mess hall meals can be gross and dangerous (and not just terrible tasting, but with pubic hair or broken glass in them), and the last meal is served at 4pm. If you want to eat after that, or if you don’t trust the prison food, you have access to a microwave, a toaster oven, a water cooker, and your commissary account. Which only lets you bring in processed and canned food, if you have money.
So Prodigy, who has sickle cell, would get monthly hauls of canned green vegetables in to try and maintain healthy eating habits to manage his disease. And meals were communal, and he inspired some inmates to eat better. Inmates often leave prison with diseases they didn’t have going in, like diabetes, because of their diet. Again, I learned a ton. It was really inspiring, and jolting. Not sure I’ve ever shaken the hand of someone who has been to prison before, and I realized how little I’ve thought about the humanity of people who go away. I’m so, so proud of Kathy and her involvement in this book.
Look at her, so fabulous.
So, yeah. By the book. It’s eye opening, and I get to brag about my friend who makes me slightly cooler by association. I mean, look at me in that green vest. That is a Target mom, living it up in NYC (AT NIGHT) with hip hop royalty. I mean.