San Quentin Death Row Cookbook
"My first time cooking in jail was at Los Angeles County Jail, where all the gangs from the Bloods neighbourhoods were housed. We had a major lockdown, and they punished us with this ugly, bad-smelling food called "juit balls". They were supposed to be all protein, red beans, with many kinds of vegetables all ground together then packed into a ball with no type of seasoning. It had a pungent smell and you definitely knew when it was time to eat when it came into the building. Once I got my first taste of them I couldn’t swallow one bite, neither could any of the other guys. I had to think if I wanted to eat at all because this would be our meal for the next three weeks. So I cleaned off the paint from the metal shelf and made a bong out of the toilet paper and this became our stove. I placed the juit balls on that hot shelf and cooked so all the grease from the meat came out. With that oil, we added some chopped beef sticks and some bbq corn nuts and we made a good meal out of something that no one could eat plain. That was the start of my cooking behind these walls…"
"Here on the row we still try to celebrate all special occasions like birthdays, holidays and sporting events, which are big in here".
Ramen Fettucini (by Letner)
(dinner for 1)
1 Ramen soup
1 pinch of salt
1 pad of butter
1 tbs oil
2oz parmesan cheese
1 pinch of garlic flakes
Boil one cup of water, add unbroken ramen noodles with sale. When cooked, empty noodles into a bowl. Add butter, olive oil, and sprinkle parmesan cheese, stir until melted. Enjoy a real fettucini dish!
Peanut butter milkshake - (by "Ru-Al")
(drink for 1)
1 - 8oz glass of milk
2 tbs creamy peanut butter
1 small packet sugar
Boil 1/2 cup water, pour into cup. Wrap peanut butter inside piece of plastic, tie tight, put into hot water until melted soft. Pour into cup of milk and add sugar. Place lid on cup, shake for 3-4 minutes until well mixed and slightly foamy on top. Enjoy my peanut butter milkshake.
Albert talks a little about sharing food in the prison:-
"Many things have changed over the years in here. We had to make many adjustments to our cooking and how we prepare these spreads. The guards were instructed not to pass the cooked food to the guys in cells down the tier anymore. So now we make it where it can fit into a plastic bag so it will slide under the cell door. Or if the guy is on the same tier and I'm going to the shower before him, I'm able to pack it good and place it in front of his cell door. When he comes out for his shower he can pick it up, put in his cell, and reheat to eat later. The guards usually wont touch the food but sometimes they will do a cursory check for contraband. For the guys living on other tiers, we have to put the food in a bag and attach it to a long fishing line so it can be fished to him. So the new rules haven't completely stopped us from trying to bring some peace of mind and happiness to a guy that doesn't have anything. It's okay to eat by yourself but there is nothing like the feeling of sharing with brothers less fortunate."
Albert also makes paints handkerchieves, creating colourful collages of his favourite bible verses on fabric.
Albert "Ru-Al" Jones handkerchief art
"Mama always made sure that we said grace before we ate because "There are people that don't have any food to eat, so say a prayer or give thanks to the Lord and be grateful for what he has provided". I have not missed one meal in the twenty-one years I've been locked up, or in my life. I thank Mama for instilling those good values and the Lord for the blessings he's bestowed.
Lord, thank you for this food. Bless them that don't have anything to eat, and keep their stomachs humble until the Lord provides them nourishment. Lord, put this food in the right place in my body, in Jesus' holy name, amen. Jesus wept!".
My Last Meal
Since I 've been here there have been about six executions. Some got their last meals, and one guy wanted to donate his $50 but the warden wouldn't allow him.
I have given a lot of thought about what I wanted for my last meal. It would have to be very close to the favourite foods that Mama had cooked when I was growing up."
Albert "Ru-Al" Jones - San Quentin death row
You can purchase Albert's book here:
Albert has a "J" plan (Jesus Plan) and knows that this plan cannot go wrong even if things aren’t always good. Albert has a strong faith which he tries to share with as many people has possible.
Thank you for reading.
Artist, Mudlark & passionate about helping prisoners on death row to share their artwork and creative writing
Chicano Art By Luis Maciel
Death Row Art
Death Row Cookbook
San Quentin Death Row