Friday, 4 April 2014

Invited into a prison cell for lunch

On two occasions I’ve been invited to the wrong side of a prison cell door. The first was a few years ago when I ventured deep into the bowels of a Perth prison to interview domestic violence perpetrators, an interesting and enlightening experience to say the least. My second, undertaken earlier this month, was a completely different affair, and one which I honestly hope you get to experience in your lifetime.

Prison lunch © The Ponder Room

With an hour to spare in Sydney I took myself off to The Rocks intent on finding something to ponder. As usual I was soon photographing something that maybe I shouldn’t, when I heard a cough behind me.

‘Why don’t you come inside?’ the person asked.

Prison lunch © The Ponder Room
‘That’s okay I’m just leaving,’ I replied quickly backing off.
‘No please, please come inside, and you can bring your camera,’ came an instruction I couldn’t ignore.

Stepping inside I saw prison cell after prison cell.

Built in the 1800’s you’d expect to see dark, dank cells, haunted by the myriad of prisoners housed there over the years. This wasn’t the case, the cells had been cleaned out, spruced up and with the sunlight streaming in they were, dare I say it … inviting.
Prison lunch © The Ponder Room

So too was the food.

The old Watch House had been turned into a restaurant called Le Pain Quotidien. With a shiny gold nameplate at the door, the menu included:
Coq Au Vin;
Boeuf Burguignon;
Croque Monsieur;
hot and cold Tartines;
Sour Cherry Tart;
Chocolate Caramel Salted Tart; and
Belgian Brownies.

There's also a bakery that uses organic flour and its breads and pastries are served with organic jams and Belgian chocolate spreads.

Prison lunch © The Ponder Room

Prison lunch © The Ponder Room


Prison lunch © The Ponder Room

Sitting in the surrounds I pondered what misdemeanours the previous occupants had committed. Perhaps their hard labour included grounding grains to make bread

Prison lunch © The Ponder Room

I can only imagine what their ghosts are thinking as they eye off the spread before me. No doubt the ladder at the front door would have been more tempting.
For more information go to
 Le Pain Quotidien on Urbanspoon
Prison lunch © The Ponder Room

Prison lunch © The Ponder Room