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Prison Ramen: Recipes and Stories from Behind Bars
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Prison Ramen: Recipes and Stories from Behind Bars

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  204 ratings  ·  44 reviews
A unique and edgy cookbook, Prison Ramen takes readers behind bars with more than 65 ramen recipes and stories of prison life from the inmate/cooks who devised them, including celebrities like Slash from Guns n’ Roses and the actor Shia LaBeouf.

Instant ramen is a ubiquitous food, beloved by anyone looking for a cheap, tasty bite—including prisoners, who buy it at the comm
Paperback, 176 pages
Published November 3rd 2015 by Workman Publishing Company (first published August 25th 2015)
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3.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  204 ratings  ·  44 reviews

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Jon(athan) Nakapalau
Ramen recipes paired with stories from 'behind the wall' about prisoners having to struggle to survive. Some of the stories are heartbreaking - individuals finding that they must do things they never would choose to do - in an atmosphere of sudden violence (stealing shoes from a fellow prisoner). This book would also be helpful to college students because the recipes are so simple and only require access to a microwave.
❀Aimee❀ Just one more page...
Chicken Soup for the Soul meets Shawshank Redemption meets Iron Chef with a forward by Samuel L. Jackson

Prison Ramen was an interesting mix. There was more heart than I anticipated. The authors asked a lot of famous people to contribute their stories from behind bars and/or their own Ramen recipe.

The Stories run the gamut: interesting, violent, serious, heartwarming, appalling, and humorous. Each story will open your eyes to an element of life behind bars. I was actually interested in each shor
Kristina Aziz
Sep 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
So I happen to know a friend who has been to our local county jail a couple of times. You can imagine how awkward it was for me to ask "Hey, can I ask you some things about jail food because this seems kind of crazy."

Fortunately he agreed, and assured me that Ramen Tamales are an actual thing, as are 'nuts to butts'. I also heard a few stories about jail that are pretty much only funny in retrospect, but still good stories.

What I like about this book is that it's not just a recipe book. A priso
Dec 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, own-it, eat-me, ebooks
I enjoyed this. I really like cookbooks where the food is cooked in clever ways. I'm impressed how the prisoners figured out how to cook in their cells. It was quite ingenious.

I got some good tips from the book. I also use the soak method to cook my ramen. I heat up water in my electric kettle, pour the boiling water over a bowl of ramen, cover it, let it soak, walk away and come back. For some reason, it never occurred to me to break up the ramen brick, before soaking it. (I even have a culina
Michelle Knight
Sep 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Review - Prison Ramen - 5 out of 5 stars You might ask what the hecks wrong with me; managing to review two books in as many days, after months of nothing. Well, part of that is down to Prison Ramen being structured in an easy, bite-sized way.
These short stories are, for the most part, each an important life lesson and an eye opener as to how cheap life can really be in some of the American prisons. One of the two-pagers is a section from a film script, but mostly these are real accounts. Some
Mar 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cooking, nonfiction
A cookbook for ramen and ways to improve on the instant noodles would have been a novelty read, except this book also contains stories and anecdotes from those who spent time behind bars, and those together make an interesting combination (much like the recipes featured) that works. The title and idea behind the book caught my attention. I have little interest in innovative ways to make ramen, but I was intrigued about the stories. The anecdotes are mainly from the 2 co-authors, but there are st ...more
Apr 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
I won this book through a Goodreads Giveaway. Thank you to the author and publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.

What a completely original idea for a cookbook...although I wouldn't necessarily categorize it one. It's a pleasing mixture of very raw prison stories and real ramen recipes. The recipes tend to have ingredients I wouldn't normally buy or eat (vienna sausages, pork rinds, etc), but some of them did sound okay.

I think the real value in this book can be seen by thos
Kassie Kay
Nov 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The foreword of this book written by Samuel L. Jackson was beautifully written.I just want to point out while it was interesting hearing stories from celebrities Gustove "Goose" Alvarez wrote his stories in such a amazing way.I love how he had stories for the recipes and some connected you to people he got to know along the way.I really enjoyed rotten pig because it the lesson behind it and loved the introduction Alvarez wrote and how knowledgeable the book was about life behind bars.
Mortisha Cassavetes
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2016
I am not a fan of Ramen Noodles at all but was so curious I had to get this book. It really amazes me the ingenuity that went into creating all these recipes from just prison food. I would recommend this book to anyone who can stomach those noodles LOL!
Jul 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
4 Stars for the stories. 2 Stars for the recipes. They are legit and very creative, but I won't be making them. (Pan American Branch's summer reading staff pick.)
Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting! Worth a read.
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is full of anecdotes and recipes using ingredients the prisoners had actual access to. It pulls no punches when talking about the violence going on in a prison. There are several celebrity anecdotes as well.
My favorite recipe is the tea that uses cough drops. I'm going to have to try that one!

Ultimately, this book made me a little depressed having to face the reality of those behind bars, but I still recommend it.
Nov 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was given an electronic copy by Workman Publishing Company and NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

While an inhabitant of the California Institution for Men in Chino, a race riot and fire prompted author Gustavo "Goose" Alvarez to write this book with the help of his friend, actor Clifton Collins, Jr. The book is filled with inventive recipes separated by interesting stories about life in prison, allowing the reader to get to know the person behind the recipes. Teenagers and college st
Miss Ryoko
Sep 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book a lot. Not only is it a cookbook full of interesting and creative recipes, but it's a book filled with stories of truth and horror of our crappy prison system in this country. I appreciate Goose sharing his stories and experiences. It made me sad for all prison inmates in this country who get treated like dirt and who suffer in a system that does nothing to keep them safe or help them rehabilitate their lives. It's a poor refection on the state she inmates get more gui ...more
Mar 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-book
I ran across this book at my local library. Normally I would have never reached for it but since I have a friend incarcerated I thought I will flip through it. This bazaar cookbook of odd mixtures nuked in a microwave was awe-inspiring. The stories of life in prison read better than any fictional story I've read in a long time. Now I have some new questions for my you really eat stuff like this? Reason 9,781 not to go to prison - I'm a food snob.
Jun 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cookbooks
I came across this little cookbook at the public library. At first I thought it was an odd idea for a cookbook. But once I started reading, it was rather interesting. Alvarez talks about life behind bars and how important food is to the inmates. I was impressed by how creative the inmates are with cooking in prison. The ramen recipes are straight forward and don't require lots of hard to find ingredients. There are also a few recipes for candy and drinks.
Eva Sanchez
Nov 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I actually really enjoyed the intelligent voices and stories shared throughout this book. I would recommend this to Latinx people who know a little about prison life because your 'uncle' went to jail for a few. Interesting way that they make ramen into different meals but it definitely sounded yucky haha.
Nora Thomas-Muniz
Jun 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book might be touted as a Ramen recipe book, but I propose, it's a book of recipes for life's "lemonade". A light read, despite the heavy experiences. Gifting this to a mouthy middle schooler, who thinks Scared Straight is fake, might make for a timely reality check.
Sep 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: food
Surprisingly good. I read all of this in a matter of a few hours, but the stories and the recipes were all quite interesting. If you're looking for a book to keep you entertained for a few hours as well as new ways to cook up some ramen noodles, then I suggest that you try this book out.
Jul 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: food, how-to, non-fiction
I brought this book home since my son is learning to cook, and I want him to be far beyond ramen noodles by the time he gets to college and life on his own.

We both read it (he's 13) and loved it, very eye-opening for both with some very interesting ramen combinations.
Patricia Kaniasty
Sep 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Great recipes and awesome stories.
Steve Moudry
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Quick, interesting read. Tons of great prison stories, focused on the day to day aspects. The recipes are sort of ridiculous but fun to read, ramen served in ways you could not believe.
May 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
What a great concept, a prison story told with ramen recipes!
Dec 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Honest and fairly upbeat memoir about prison life told through recipes that you can make from commissary food. If you were completely fascinated by Chang's peacakes in OINTB, this one is for you.

Oct 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Loved this concept, the whole book, and all the recipes. No, I'm not going to make them (though more than one DID seem oddly tempting), but I did read every one!
Feb 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Not quite four stars, I'd go 3.5 if it were an option. Half-and-half prison stories (or in a few cases arrest stories from TV or movie people) and recipes, mostly ramen as one would guess but also a few drinks and a couple of other non-ramen dishes. Although never in prison I've eaten my share of ramen, and have created some concoctions pretty close to some of these. It ain't health-food, but can be pretty darned good. And two of the stories are by Danny Trejo, I always like to hear from him.
Janka H.
Dec 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This interesting book combines the ramen-inspired recipes from the prison and the bittersweet stories from behind the bars - and it makes for a fascinating read.

4 stars go for the cooking issues - while I love ramen quite a lot, I would probably puke intensively because of some of the recipes! But this is just me being a high-maintenance ninny, because this is not the fault of the recipes by any means - after all, it takes a lot of creativity to try to cook with the very, very limited sources w
This is both a book of very short essays and interesting ways to dress up instant ramen.

Most of the recipes are not feasible for my family due to great deals of spicy additives like sriracha or jalapeno peppers. But the creativity in turning a bag of bland noodles into tastes from many different cultures is fascinating.

The essays are sometimes brutal, sometimes hopeful, sometimes amusing, but always painfully real. Mealtime seems to be one of the few civilized factors in prison, but even that i
Julie H.
Aug 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: cookbook-cooking
I'd rate Collins and Alvarez's Prison Ramen: Recipes and Stories from Behind Bars a solid 3 1/2 stars. With the exception of "the Balushi," I'm not likely to ever prepare any of the items in this book, but the accounts, insights, and general spirit of the book are such that I'm pleased to have spent a couple of hours devouring it. We all eat, but this really puts food, and the power of access to food, in an entirely new context for me. Many thanks to the authors, and the many, many folks who ass ...more
Andrea Lorenz
How can you resist a title like that? Prison Ramen is a work of love - love of camaraderie and eating good food (or as good as you can make it in prison). Interspersed between creative recipes are little anecdotes about prison life written by various inmates as well as celebrities who've spent time behind bars, including Shia LeBoeuf, Slash, and Danny Trejo. I'll admit that I haven't had the time to make any of the recipes, but they do sound appealing. This would be a great addition to a library ...more
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