Nutraloaf: so bad, the government wants more

It looks like food. It’s not even vegetarian but, somehow, Cook County Jail, Illinois, have managed to concoct a dish which gives the most unruly prisoners the nutrition they must legally have, but witholds the pleasure of taste.

Food critic Jeffy Ruby went to sample Nutraloaf and calls it “a thick orange lump of spite” which prompts the toughest offenders to beg “No! Anything but Nutraloaf!” It’s developing a track record as a potent rehabilitator. Here is Jeff’s description of the dish:

The mushy, disturbingly uniform innards recalled the thick, pulpy aftermath of something you dissected in biology class: so  intrinsically disagreeable that my throat nearly closed up reflexively. But the funny thing about Nutraloaf is the taste. It’s not awful, nor is it especially good. I kept trying to detect any individual element —carrot? egg?—and failing. Nutraloaf tastes blank, as though someone physically removed all hints of flavor. “That’s the goal,” says Mike Anderson, Aramark’s district manager. “Not to make it taste bad but to make it taste neutral.” By those standards, Nutraloaf is a culinary triumph; any recipe that renders all 13 of its ingredients completely mute is some kind of miracle.

It looks like the market for this kind of thing is growing fast in correctional institutions. Bad cooks, Masterchef rejects and counter-Jamie Oliver rebels, there is hope for you yet.

Chicago Mag review: http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/September-2010/Dining-Critic-Tries…