Hooray or no way? Sample prison chow or raw fish salad at food fests

Hooray or no way? Sample prison chow or raw fish salad at food fests
Illinois-style Nutraloaf will be available for sampling during a Prison Food Weekend at the Eastern State Penitentiary, a prison turned museum, in Philadelphia. (Eastern State Penitentiary)

Ever eaten anything you consider cruel and unusual punishment? How about Nutraloaf, a prison dish, or raw fish salad?

You can check out these taste sensations in upcoming food fests -- although we use the term loosely in the first case -- in Philadelphia and San Diego, respectively.


Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary, an 1829 prison turned museum, will host Prison Food Weekend on June 6 and 7. Visitors can sample the infamous Nutraloaf, or prison loaf, a concoction served to prisoners who act out. They acted out again by suing over it.

The idea of the loaf is to meet nutritional needs, but taste intentionally goes out the window. Each state has its own recipe; California's includes raw cabbage and chili powder.

You can taste versions from five states, even a vegan option from Illinois, and then record your thoughts on whether the prisoners are right.

Visitors also can try something called "chi chi," described as "comfort food" made by prisoners using whatever they could find in the prison's commissary or vending machines.

Former prisoners will be on hand to make chi chi, which sometimes includes ramen noodles, chips and sugar.

The prison food event is included in the price of admission to the museum ($14 for adults, $10 for children).

Info: Eastern State Penitentiary, 2027 Fairmount Ave., Philadelphia

If you think poke (pronounced "poh-kay') is strictly a Hawaiian dish, head to San Diego on May 26 for the city's sixth I Love Poke event.

Poke is a raw fish salad often served as an appetizer that may include seaweed, soy sauce and onion.

At I Love Poke, chefs square off to find out who makes the best poke. You'll be able to sample some dreamy island-inspired small plates (Coco-mac Nut Toffee, for example) from 15 local restaurants -- all to the sound of live Hawaiian music.

Tickets for the 6 p.m.-to-9 p.m. event cost $65 per person. It's to be held at Bali Hai Restaurant, 2230 Shelter Island Drive, San Diego.