Imagining Dinner in Prison

Aubrey (“Mikey”) told me he’s “learned how to be a mean prison chef” (he served up pasta alfredo for Thanksgiving using a prison microwave and packets of powdered milk). “When I get back into a real kitchen,” he told me, “there are going to be A LOT of smiling faces. I hope one is yours.”

So I asked him to play along: “If I were your dinner guest,” I wrote, “what might you serve? Where would we be? And what would the setting look like?”

After a little bit of research (“gotta get it right,” he told me), he finally wrote back. I hope you delight in his imaginings:

“As my dinner guest I would hope to be able to invite you to a warm and welcome home where you could be at ease. Ideally, it would be hardwood floors and the red bricked, old bones of a city brownstone. 

“Kim and Ted’s photography would hang along the walls next to some art and pottery that I've managed to hang on to despite my incarceration. My green thumb shows in the rich fullness of my orchids, ferns and variegated ficus. Pythos vines swoop in long tendrils over my windows, framing them in emerald green. 

“I'm not a wealthy man, so my furniture is an evenly matched collection of second life furniture that I've reupholstered. Somehow I've managed to get the stain on my table to richly shine and complement my floors. You might meet a rescue cat or dog that I adopted from a local shelter. I adore animals, and am a sucker for saving what many would consider a lost cause.

“I find music to be integral for almost every occasion. Dinner is no exception by any means…I've come prepared for such an occasion with a playlist of my own. I hope you can build it from what I've listed and listen to it. Without any further delay, tonight's dinner music is…

It’s a mans world - James Brown

Trouble Man - Marvin Gaye

Gravity - John Mayer

Black Magic Woman - Santana

Dengue Woman Blues - Jimmie Vaughan

Tin Pan Alley - Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble

Make it Rain - Ed Sheeran

Carnival - Natalie Merchant

Don't know why - Nora Jones

Down - Marion Hill

Behind the Glass - Elliot Berger

Porcelain - Moby

Now or Never - Halsey

Eleutheria - Lenny Kravitz

Is this love - Bob Marley & The Wailers

One Love - Bob Marley & The Wailers

Walking on the Moon - The Police 

“Our appetizer would be hummus with black bean and freshly sliced cherry tomatoes in a garlic basil alongside toasted sesame flatbread. White wine or red is available, but I recommend the merlot. It has a rich walnut citrus bouquet with long legs. This wine is a front runner for the argument that sunshine and laughter could be bottled, as drinking it summons both.

“I'm no vegan. Heck, I'm not even a vegetarian. What I am, in spades, is determined. The entree I've made is a first for me. It’s a spinach shell spring roll, stuffed with white rice, diced cabbage, carrots, almond paste, cloves and ginger. I've fried them in vegetable oil, served over brown rice with onion and broccoli. A sweet and spicy swipe of hot plum sauce stripes the rolls with short shredded lengths of carrot for color.

“Dessert is a medley of fruits. Prepared just hours prior, I've taken a small watermelon, about the size of a bowling ball, and cut it in half. After scooping out all of the red pulp, I've refilled it with its own rich red bounty along with kiwi, strawberry, raspberries, stripes of honey, and crumbles of brown sugar. 

“An evening walk would be our only change of scenery. Fresh air after a wonderful meal and better company is dessert's finale. We could talk for what I'm sure would span hours. Seeing you safely home would be my only bittersweet departure, as long as there was the promise of another day to come.

“I hope my dinner is to your liking. It has singularly been the most challenging and rewarding creative experience as of late.”


*To read more of Aubrey's writing, check out I Have Waited for You: Letters from Prison.

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