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Essay: "Food"

by Roger Hartley
Well, here is a topic I can talk about in length, but for the sake of all concerned I will keep it fairly brief. I like to eat; inside prison I am usually happier when eating than any other time. I will first talk about some food from my aina (homeland) Oahu, Hawaii. My Ohana (family) loves to eat, as do most Polynesians. Growing up, every meal we had was with a side of white rice. If you go to any supermarket or 7-11 you can find spam musubi. Spam musubi is fried spam surrounded by rice wrapped in limu (seaweed). I would buy a bunch of these when I would go to Waimea or Haleiwa beach. There is also taco paki which is octopus tentacles (raw) mixed with dried seaweed. It comes in a small square plastic container. We also have dried squid that comes in little plastic bags; it is good but causes your breath to stink. We have breadfruit, lilikoi, mango, pomegranates, apples bananas, and strawberry bananas, etc... There is so much good food in Oahu, but I cannot list all of them because I said I would be brief.

I feel compelled to mention the most well known Hawaiian dish, Kalua pig. Kalua pig is pig baked in an underground oven (imu), covered with large ti leaves. This is a must to try if ever you have the opportunity. I will now name a few of the dishes I like from other cultures. Kimchee, which is fermented cabbage, it is very hot, but then I love hot foods. It is also known to make your breath smell pretty awful. I am a sucker for hot food, I love wasabi and jalapeno peppers. I lived in Germany for a while and was a fan of their bratwurst, beirwurst, and liverwurst. Bratwurst is awesome with ketchup and curry sprinkled on top. I also have their schnitzel and Capri sommes, oh I can't forget pomes frits (French fries). It goes without saying that the beer is grade A; I learned to drink in Germany. In high school I was lucky enough to travel to Australia, I don't remember names of food that I enjoyed there. I do remember not liking Vegemite, which is a sandwich spread. I figured it would be similar to peanut butter, but boy was I mistaken. It was very salty, but the same thick consistency.

On a trip I took to France I was tricked into eating snails. They were served in their shells (cooked) with a butter and garlic dipping sauce. No one had to trick me into eating the extra sweet pastries in France. I have a sweet tooth (actually sweet teeth) so I thoroughly enjoyed that. I could go on and on but I have to end this somewhere. The main goal for eating is to supply energy for your enjoying what you eat, but I do not believe in overeating. Gluttony is a problem in America, which also goes hand in hand with obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease. I implore people to try different foods from other cultures, you may be pleasantly surprised. I hope I have tempted your palate.

What can I say about food? Oh, a lot. If I was allowed to just have some of the dishes I would like. I cannot enjoy many of them due to being a state prisoner in the largest prison system. They spend about 8 billion dollars a year, yet feed us at about .50 a meal. Most of the money goes to the staff and overtime pay. I know it's hard for them to have to feed 172,000 inmates, but with an 8 billion yearly budget I could hope for a little bit better meals. I'm in prison to be punished and using the food is one way to make sure you know it! So all I can do is wish for some real good food some day.