In prison, cooking to escape


“He is in prison and he eats better than us! »exclaims JLsoni667, a bit provocatively, under the TikTok video of @raamo6point3. Which, on February 8, 2022, decided to tackle, to the delight of its 220,000 subscribers (they are 287,000 now), the preparation ofapple turnovers recipe. We tap on the phone screen and the author of this short 25-second clip (532,000 views) appears in the foreground, against a background of catchy rap music – the song Bitumen, of the group L2B Gang. Behind the black hood that hides his face three-quarters, we guess a determined look. In the background, the presence of a barred window – on which a few oranges and two bath towels are balanced – betrays his condition as a prisoner.

In front of him, on a low table, are five apples, neatly lined up, which he begins by cutting into small quarters and reducing to a compote, in a saucepan, with a little powdered cane sugar. A cutaway later, the one who also calls himself “P. Etche’hebs” on the social network (a pun ociating the term ” hebs », which means “prison” in Arabic, and the surname of the famous chef and juror of the show “Top Chef” Philippe Etchebest) unwraps a puff pastry from a plastic bag, flattens it using a can of soda instead of a rolling pin, then cut it into circles of uniform diameters using the end of a blunt knife. Once filled with compote and delicately sealed, the dough pieces are placed inside a large skillet.

In the absence of an oven, the prisoner reveals a cooking technique well known to cell cooks: two pans are stacked on top of each other before being sandwiched between the fires of two hotplates (one of the rare appliances, with the fridge, to be authorized in the cell), so as to create an airtight heating enclosure. A few seconds later, apple turnovers with a perfectly golden crust appear on the screen – they have nothing to envy to those found outside, in the world of people who bake in complete freedom.

By scrolling through the catalog of videos posted by @raamo6point3, we discover nearly fifty recipes that compete in ingenuity and system D, among which a Basque cake, an incongruous galette des rois, “prisoner’s lasagna” or even an enticing chicken mafe.

A slightly voyeuristic fascination

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