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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Nutraloaf: Repulsive or Awesome

One of my favorite topics of conversation among friends (at the bar or whatnot) is: would you rather lose a major limb or lose your taste buds forever? I find this question to be great for conversation because you quickly identify the foodies in the group and listening to people talk about their relationships to food/cookery/eating is endlessly interesting. At least to me. For the record, you can have my leg but don’t take away my ability to enjoy my just-spicy-enough Sriracha laced cabbage.

Today, while eating lunch with my friends Sam and Wio at Wild Bistro, we approached a related topic. In light of the economy, what is the perfectly nutritional and economic meal? And would you want to eat it? Also, if such a “meal” could be made into an affordable supplement, would you take it and potentially forgo other foodstuffs, saving yourself a boatload of money but sacrificing the pleasures of food?

After returning to the library, Sam emailed this: Nutraloaf. It’s a nutritionally complete “cuisine” fed to misbehaving prison inmates as a punishment. It’s controversial. Is it abuse? Is it brilliant? Does it tap into our core beliefs that all people deserve recognizable foodstuffs that they enjoy, at least to a degree?

It turns out I have a lot of thoughts on Nutraloaf. I like to imagine prison kitchens competing to see who can make the best/worst Nutraloaf. Criteria for judging could be: How bad does it taste? Can you taste the sawdust in it? How super nutritious can it be pushed to be? (SUPER NUTRALOAF could be endorsed by and marketed to athletes!) How long does it last before expiration? How cheap is its production? Also there could be a competition for presentation: ugliest Nutraloaf, molding Nutraloaf into a miniature version of the penitentiary, etc.

Also, what about Nutraloaf eating contests? Forget shoveling delicious pies and Nathan's hotdogs in competitors' mouths! Take it to a new level!

For the super adventurous, here’s a recipe via NPR. Scott Simon ate it.

Would you eat it?

(Thanks go to Sam, who distracted me from my dissertation for a good 30 minutes by alerting me to Nutraloaf.)


  • For some reason I really like the idea of miniature Nutraloaf penitentiaries. Poignant. But cute and edible.

    Nutraloaf: Repulsive AND Awesome!

    By Anonymous Sam from the Bistro, at 3:08 PM  

  • I made a vegan meatloaf once that I swear was probably pretty close to this. It was not good.

    By Blogger Ashley, at 9:43 PM  

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