In Malay, “masak” means “to cook”. In our childhood, “masak-masak” meant pretending to cook, but for many inmates in Singapore’s prisons and Drug Rehabilitation Centres (DRCs) during the ’70s and ’80s, “masak” was a favourite pastime, but also a criminal offence. A new book, “When Cooking Was A Crime: Masak In The Singapore Prisons, 1970s-1980s”, offers a rare glimpse into prison life by exploring how food took on new meanings and tastes for those behind bars. Writer and researcher Sheere Ng from the writing studio In Plain Words, which published the book, interviewed eight former inmates and documented their memories of cooking supper inside their cells and dormitories. Former photojournalist Don Wong complements their stories with photographic recreations of 35 objects and dishes often used in the masak culture.