Note, jail guards: I did NOT give this book to our columnist
Note, jail guards: I did NOT give this book to our columnist

"Watered-Down Ketchup Broth and Tomato Skins": A Foodie Reviews the Food in the OC Jail!

SO...we got a friend whose friend is doing time at Theo Lacy. And not just any friend of a friend: this guy is someone who loves the good life, who frequented some of the best restaurants in the county...and is now relegated to eating the horrid stuff that jail guards heap on inmates. How horrid? Let the friend of the friend (who's calling himself N.S. Lechuga) describe in this letter from the OC Jail...

Let's face some facts here: Jail sucks. Our county spends about 14 [times] more funds on a jail inmate than a student enrolled in our public school system per year. Obviously, something is wrong here. The county deputies and/or sheriffs are being paid too much compared to our teachers. If there is that much monetary flow here, then, why does the food suck?

...On my regular days of being out and about, they'd consist of double breakfasts at Eat Chow followed by an early dessert three minutes away from SideCar. Lunch always varied from Newport Fresh to Rance's and everything in between. Very convenient when you work off Newport Boulevard and 17th. Again, like breakfast, I'd typically have a warmup dinner then man dinner, as I'd call it. The formula is liquid diet plus appetizers followed by the main course. Little Sparrow or C4 Deli for drinks and warmup bites, then to make the decision of staying put or figuring out the next destination. I'd frequent Anepalco's at the Ayre's, 2.0's at the Playground, or my weekly ritual of Sol del Sur in San Juan Capistrano (shout out to Chef Dave).

I'm sure the void in my life is clear now.

At jail, there's a bi-weekly theme of un-al dente, overcooked, bland, salt-heavy mash at play. There's Animal product week and soy week for breakfast and dinner here. I'll get to lunch in a bit.

Seeing that we just kicked off Soy Week, today's breakfast was our Red Death. Think of watered-down ketchup broth and tomato skins (yes, just the skins), unseasoned potato mounds that sit in the sauce like a glacier with "grey" (the soy) floating around. I'm told "This plate used to be bomb!" which made me think of room for improvement on this plate--sorry, tray. That being said, step one: don't overload the tray. The canned peaches and their syrup really made the broth interesting this morning.

On to lunch.

Springfield Jail no doubt nicer than OC Jail
Springfield Jail no doubt nicer than OC Jail
20th Century FOX

Sack lunch time is always fortified wheat bread (4 slices) and meat of the day which is one of the following: Transparent turkey meat, hot dog parts in the shape of bologna, or another pork product that resembles coagulated deli slices. Boar's Head can learn a thing or two from these canned goods...Claro's should start carrying these "county cuts."

Back to the menu. We also got an apple or an orange every other day, mustard or mayo pack, a Kool-Aid-like vegan-friendly milk substitute and a pack of "county cookies" (vanilla, chocolate, strawberry). Think of Newman's Os but 100 percent inorganic, no moisture in the cookie, and the frosting on an Albertson's cake that's been out for four days.

I'm 30 minutes out from dinnertime. Keep in mind it's 4 p.m. I'm not certain as to what's for dinner, but I know it will be based off this morning's broth with an added thickening agent along with spaghetti or rice. Truthfully, the upside to dinner is typically the salad. If I'm lucky, the guy in charge of making salad won't water down the Italian dressing.

P.S.: If you go to Sol del Sur, do have the lamb tongue with chutney. Don't let my deli talk scare you.

Email: Twitter: @gustavoarellano.

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