The Joy of Incarceration

Foodies looking for a little perspective on their own eating challenges would do well to check out a terrific article in the March edition of Saveur. Ma Thanegi, a former political prisoner held in Myanmar, writes an essay about eating well in prison—either through the clever utilization of meager available resources, or by using the power of her imagination to re-create beloved meals from outside the walls.

Nobody gets shanked or bitches up, but Thanegi’s three-year bit is still plenty harrowing. Jailed for working as a personal assistant to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (leader of the country’s democracy movement), Thanegi copes with 5 a.m. reveille, a “mattress” composed of her five sarongs stacked one atop the other, and a monotonous diet of chickpea soup and rice.

The piece is elegantly compelling, a brief, effortless juxtaposition of prison life and vivid, mouthwatering memories of forbidden noodle dishes and fresh vegetables. You’re not likely to find this kind of thing in Gourmet; all the more reason to subscribe to Saveur.

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