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Commissary Kitchen: My Infamous Prison Cookbook

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The book details the poor nutritional options to which inmates are subjected to and discusses the author's attitude towards the prison and food. He makes the most of cooking from the limited ingredients available, plus food packages, and gives recipes that are enterprising that may be of use in this time of a pandemic.


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The book details the poor nutritional options to which inmates are subjected to and discusses the author's attitude towards the prison and food. He makes the most of cooking from the limited ingredients available, plus food packages, and gives recipes that are enterprising that may be of use in this time of a pandemic.

30 review for Commissary Kitchen: My Infamous Prison Cookbook

  1. 4 out of 5

    Petra-X

    This is a very slight book from a famous rapper, one half of the mega-successful Mobb Depp (view spoiler)[I'd never heard of them, what about you? (hide spoiler)] , locked up in Riker's, New York, for 3.5 years. Although ghost-written, it feels like it keeps the authentic flavour of the author's voice and there is a warmth to that voice despite the fact that the author thinks he's the shit! Which is his favourite word. "Shit", used for something good or bad, "that shit tasted great" or "it tasted This is a very slight book from a famous rapper, one half of the mega-successful Mobb Depp (view spoiler)[I'd never heard of them, what about you? (hide spoiler)] , locked up in Riker's, New York, for 3.5 years. Although ghost-written, it feels like it keeps the authentic flavour of the author's voice and there is a warmth to that voice despite the fact that the author thinks he's the shit! Which is his favourite word. "Shit", used for something good or bad, "that shit tasted great" or "it tasted like shit" or "pictures and all that kind of shit", "oh shit", a general all-purpose word. "Fuck" is a close second. "Shit, look at that motherfucker fucking around with that guy. That's shit." In the author's dorm, breakfast was at 6.30 a.m., lunch at 9.30 a.m. and dinner at 4 p.m. Very oddly spaced meals. After lunch and then after dinner until lock up at 10pm or 2 a.m. on weekends, the prisoners could cook. The food in the prison seemed to be pretty good, or at least the author liked it. Cooking was more something the prisoners did to pass the time than because the prison food was close to inedible. The recipes, by and large are "shit". Prison food done up with spices and the canned vegetables he had sent in. The booze was worse - prison sangria made with fruit and ketchup and left to ferment. He was taught to cook by a rasta, who had been a chef before being locked up for rape. The rasta was looked down on by all because of his crime, but tolerated because he could really cook. There are some interesting revelations that, despite all the prison books I've read, I never read anything like this, "Correction officers were corrupt as shit. There was a whole prostitution ring happening in the prison. I guess you could say the inmates were the pimps and the COs were the hookers. A lot of the inmates in there – they got game. They’re from the hood, they’ll be talking that shit and the girls that work there, they’re from the hood too (most of them). So they’ll be feeling the inmates. Not all of them were into prostitution. Some would just have sex with the inmates for free. But the ones who were down to prostitute had a whole system to it. The way they got paid was the inmates would have their family send money through Western Union. Then the inmates would pay the COs and they’d get busy in there. And they’ll be having sex everywhere in the jail, in all kinds of places. He says that it wasn't so much the sex for the inmates as the power. Once they had sex with one of the correction officers they would smuggle them in stuff, whatever they wanted. (If they got caught, they'd end up on the wrong side of the bars too). I do wonder if the author had been White, well-educated, well-off, famous, married with children and only having weed as a minor prior issue, he would have gone to prison for carrying a gun in his vehicle? The author was all that. He came from a professionally musical family, his grandfather and great uncle Budd and Keg Johnson, were jazz musicians, his cousin a recorder producer and his mother (Frances, later Fatima) had been in the chart-topping girl group The Crystals (view spoiler)[his father was a bit of a dead loss though - failed musician, didn't like computer programming, went in for robbery and a heroin addict, but that has nothing to do with the author being arrested (hide spoiler)] Sadly, the author died aged 42 in hospital of complications with the life long sickle cell disease he had. I have Black friends with this, attacks are excrutiatingly painful and need immediate hospitalisation. He left behind his wife, he'd been with Kiki for 25 years, and two children. So all the non-recipe bits are good reading, the recipes just don't count, the glossy food pics are the usual food stylist productions, but the author is interesting and the book is well-written. I've read three prison cookbooks recently. By far the best, the searing, paradigm-shifting, Prison Ramen: Recipes and Stories from Behind Bars, the worst, the disappointing The Serial Killer Cookbook: True Crime Trivia and Disturbingly Delicious Last Meals from Death Row's Most Infamous Killers and Murderers and this one, in the middle. 3 star. "

  2. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    Commissary Kitchen: My Infamous Prison Cookbook by Albert Prodigy Johnson is a difficult cookbook to rate. It has beautiful photography and a enticing cover. It answers some questions but leaves a few without any answers. I sometimes watch a reality TV show about life in prisons and have seen one episode on prison cooking. So that made interested in this book. Albert Prodigy Johnson, who is a rapper and has traveled the world has also been in four prisons during his sentence. He says that prison Commissary Kitchen: My Infamous Prison Cookbook by Albert Prodigy Johnson is a difficult cookbook to rate. It has beautiful photography and a enticing cover. It answers some questions but leaves a few without any answers. I sometimes watch a reality TV show about life in prisons and have seen one episode on prison cooking. So that made interested in this book. Albert Prodigy Johnson, who is a rapper and has traveled the world has also been in four prisons during his sentence. He says that prison food is terrible and I believe him. There is so much salt in the food and often inmates are often offered highly sugared drinks with the meals. Therefore, many leave with diabetes and hypertension that they did not have before. He has sickle cell anemia so he knew that he be very sick often if he depended on the prison food. I wanted to know more about his experience with sickle cell. Does he receive medicine for it, see a hematologist while in prison. How does he cope with it. He did say that exercise is necessity for him when coping with sickle cell and the prison does well in offering opportunities for that. He had never cooked before going to prison. He watched other inmates cook and improvised. Creating new recipes is a stress reliever and distracts him from his worries. As for the recipes, I will not be trying any of them. Most of them just won't work for me as a diabetic and a vegetarian. A lot of what he does is takes the basic food that he is offered and tweek them with condiments that he is able to order, buy or receive from people on the outside. He has to deal with a lot of canned food as there is no way to keep anything refrigerated. So that pretty much eliminates frozen and fresh food which is much more nutritious. If anyone is interested in prison reform, I think this should be required reading. Also, I would like to encourage the author to take some cooking classes to enrich his knowledge and enjoyment of his new hobby. I received this finished copy by making a selection from Amazon Vine books but that in no way influenced my thoughts or feelings in this review. I also posted this review only on sites meant for reading not for selling.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Colleen

    Book 27 of my #2017readingchallenge is "Commissary Kitchen: My Infamous Prison Cookbook" by Mobb Deep's Prodigy (RIP). A fast, funny, and sometimes sobering look at life in prison, this is a legit cookbook. There are stories sprinkled throughout and they are...well, amazing. Recipes include sauces, lots of made-over-canned-goods, and even "classics" (which he hates!). The microcosm (can we even call it that anymore considering the sheer size of this industry anymore) is fascinating and more refer Book 27 of my #2017readingchallenge is "Commissary Kitchen: My Infamous Prison Cookbook" by Mobb Deep's Prodigy (RIP). A fast, funny, and sometimes sobering look at life in prison, this is a legit cookbook. There are stories sprinkled throughout and they are...well, amazing. Recipes include sauces, lots of made-over-canned-goods, and even "classics" (which he hates!). The microcosm (can we even call it that anymore considering the sheer size of this industry anymore) is fascinating and more referenced to than explained outright save a few examples - and also, how *do* inmates stay healthy with the food they serve? Prodigy was determined to watch out for his health while in prison because of his sickle cell anemia, so this is a collection of his hacked recipes. This book reminds the reader of the human behind the bars. Oh, and it's also inventive af!!!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Siepel

    I like books that expose me to things that I am clueless about. Commissary Kitchen ranks in the top 5 things in life I am absolutely ignorant about. The insights into an inmate's life was both sobering and depressing. I was impressed how Mr. Johnson made the best of his sentence by focusing on what he could improve, in this case that would be food. For being a cookbook, there isn't a single recipe in it that I am very tempted to even try. That being said, I still found this book to be a worthwhil I like books that expose me to things that I am clueless about. Commissary Kitchen ranks in the top 5 things in life I am absolutely ignorant about. The insights into an inmate's life was both sobering and depressing. I was impressed how Mr. Johnson made the best of his sentence by focusing on what he could improve, in this case that would be food. For being a cookbook, there isn't a single recipe in it that I am very tempted to even try. That being said, I still found this book to be a worthwhile read. I got quite the education into prison life. Now handing this book to my kids as another reinforcement on why you want to obey the law and avoid prison life. If they are still pushing it, I may just make and serve them something from this book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jetta

    I think anyone who bought this book with the intent of replicating these recipes should do some serious reflection on what it is about prison slavery that piques their curiosity but not their compassion. In practice this book is more of an ethnography that details dispossessed people's efforts to create nutritious and palatable meals within the American prison system. The recipes within speak to the nature of food as a means of facilitation of power; the power of the prisons in depriving prisone I think anyone who bought this book with the intent of replicating these recipes should do some serious reflection on what it is about prison slavery that piques their curiosity but not their compassion. In practice this book is more of an ethnography that details dispossessed people's efforts to create nutritious and palatable meals within the American prison system. The recipes within speak to the nature of food as a means of facilitation of power; the power of the prisons in depriving prisoners of nutritious food, and conversely the power the prisoners take back for themselves in creating beautiful, innovative, and soul-affirming experiences with the limited resources at their disposal. That being said: the recipes' deviations and amendments to dishes we so commonly take for granted on the outside do have practical applications. Having worked in kitchens, I can confirm that you've paid money for mac and cheese or stir-fries that were even less complex, and tasted worse, than what you'll find in this book. This book is a testament to the personal struggle for survival and humane self-identification of those we throw in modern slavery and forget. Even in the face of such systemic deprivation and despair, the human spirit strives to make life worth living. You shouldn't just read it as an exercise of your political conscience. That intent would be better spent putting money in the commissary accounts of people on the inside who are left eating over-salted, over-sugared slop.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    Interesting This book's value is in its insight into the prison system, not as a cookbook. It will show the reader what human beings do to keep themselves sane (and healthy) in prison, on spite of the system's pronounced lack of concern for either of those things.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    I'm intrigued by issues of criminal justice and incarceration, so I read this book as part of Book Riot's 2020 Read Harder Challenge. Albert "Prodigy" Johnson was a rapper who was one half of the hip hop duo Mobb Deep. After a couple of arrests, he was sent to prison from 2007 to 2011. The book is based on the idea that Prodigy, a sickle cell patient, was trying his best to maintain his health with limited food options in prison. Early on, Prodigy cautions readers that the book "won’t make you a I'm intrigued by issues of criminal justice and incarceration, so I read this book as part of Book Riot's 2020 Read Harder Challenge. Albert "Prodigy" Johnson was a rapper who was one half of the hip hop duo Mobb Deep. After a couple of arrests, he was sent to prison from 2007 to 2011. The book is based on the idea that Prodigy, a sickle cell patient, was trying his best to maintain his health with limited food options in prison. Early on, Prodigy cautions readers that the book "won’t make you a better cook, but it might make you a better person." I think that's where this quick read might find its place. People in the free world are unlikely to make a Prison Surprise concoction out of ramen, flavored tortilla chips, canned mackerel, and hot sauce. However, I think we're more likely to stop and question the adequacy of a system where healthy food seems to be in short supply.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tim Dailey

    The spirit of Prodigy in these books is tough to hear. A man who battled a lifelong illness, Bold and true to his goals, an author and ambassador of rap. The good die young they say. Bittersweet to hear Rest In Peace Chinx Drugs and A$AP Yams as the final words spoken by Prodigy. The acknowledgments cover personal friends and big names from all over something you don’t hear a rapper say often. The story is something to hear straight from the man. They say prison takes something from you. Prodigy The spirit of Prodigy in these books is tough to hear. A man who battled a lifelong illness, Bold and true to his goals, an author and ambassador of rap. The good die young they say. Bittersweet to hear Rest In Peace Chinx Drugs and A$AP Yams as the final words spoken by Prodigy. The acknowledgments cover personal friends and big names from all over something you don’t hear a rapper say often. The story is something to hear straight from the man. They say prison takes something from you. Prodigy gave more than was taken and I am sad he won’t be writing more book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lael

    Interesting and illuminating.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Child960801

    I read some weird books. This one is about things the author would cook while in prison because he was trying to eat healthier. There are lots of stories in here. Also, lots and lots of language.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Rating this for reading value, don't think I delved into the recipes. I loved his authentic, funny voice. Warning: not for the faint of heart! Another cookbook book club idea-

  12. 4 out of 5

    Hazel

  13. 4 out of 5

    jenna

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dan Reynolds

  15. 4 out of 5

    Judy Monchuk

  16. 4 out of 5

    richard hebert

  17. 4 out of 5

    Taylor

  18. 4 out of 5

    Miranda

  19. 5 out of 5

    Erinjessa

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rick Schultz

  21. 4 out of 5

    LaToya

  22. 4 out of 5

    Pepe Chapowski

  23. 5 out of 5

    Brandy Luther

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kromeklia Bryant

  25. 4 out of 5

    Justin

  26. 5 out of 5

    Duncan Coble

  27. 4 out of 5

    Megan

  28. 5 out of 5

    Johanna Castillo

  29. 4 out of 5

    Noe Hernandez

  30. 4 out of 5

    Cbsd library

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