Tracy Morgan is dishing it up. This season of comedy series The Last O.G., his ex-con character Tray is launching a tasty new business: his very own foodtruck named Last Meal On Wheels. It’s hilariously prison themed, complete with orange paint job and grey bars across the service window. Episode 2 will dig into how Tray learnt ways to turn trash into treats when he was behind bars. Can you transform spam scabs and old potato salad into what looks like a crispy chicken wing? Tray can.
To coincide with the season in real life in the US, Tracy published The Last O.G. Cookbook: How To Get Mad Culinary Skills. It contains 80 totally O.G. recipes that combine the flavours of Brooklyn’s cultural stewpot, soul food, and a touch of prison-style humour in the recipe titles, like Snitches Get Ceviches (a play on the “snitches get stitches” threat). You can also try Tray’s Cornflake-Battered Fried Chicken with Sweet Pickles, Shay's "Somebody Died" Spaghetti, and Bobby's Blinged-Out Hoppin' John.
“This project is really special to me. I can throw down in the kitchen, so I’m excited to put these recipes in a book packed with soul and bold in-your-face flavours. The most important ingredient is love. I want this book to not only inspire mad culinary skills, but give back to the Brooklyn community where I grew up,” says Tracy. And it’s all comfort food, which Tray certainly needs as S2 begins.
The past is present
The premise of the comedy, written by Jordan Peele and John Carcieri, is that former tough street punk Tray returns to his old Brooklyn neighbourhood following 15 years behind bars, only to find that the neighbourhood has gone bougie, his ex-girlfriend Shay (Tiffany Hadish) was secretly pregnant with their twins, Amira (Taylor Christian Mosby) and Shahzad (Dante Hoagland) when he got locked up, and she has been raising them together with her husband, a really nice white guy named Josh (Ryan Gaul) who’s a great dad.
Tray is no deadbeat dad, either. He is determined to be part of his children’s lives, and to that end, he’s working his way back into society with the help of wanna-be stand-cup comedian Miniard Mullins (Cedric The Entertainer) who runs a halfway house, and Tray’s cousin Bobby (Allen Maldonado).
Of course he still makes some terrible mistakes, as in the S1 finale when he was plotting along with his bros at the halfway house to murder the man who got him sent to prison in the first place. Or that time he sold crack… or, um… let’s draw a veil over that and carry on to S2!
Second seasons, second chances
“We always say in the show, ‘Second chance is a beautiful thing.’ The message is you can’t just throw somebody away ’cause they were incarcerated. We all make mistakes. Forgiveness, love and forgiveness. It’s a dark premise, but we colour in a dark place. Shay has to let him back into his kids’ life. You learn that first season. That’s the message I’m trying to convey. Live and let go,” says Tracy.
Tracy and Tray will be continuing to beat the drum against gentrification in the upcoming season, protesting the reframing of property as investment rather than homes and houses for the people who make a city or a neighbourhood. “It doesn’t matter where you’re from, you could be from Bangladesh, you get it, it’s the truth. This is about gentrification, man. This is really going on in Brooklyn, all around the world. I’m all for ‘save the neighbourhood,’ and making it more productive, but where you gonna put them displaced people?” Tracy asks.
And toughest of all, Tray will be confronting his mom, Roberta (Anna Maria Horsford), and working to earn her forgiveness. “A mother’s disappointment is way worse than a mother’s anger. To this day I’ll never forget my mother’s face when she found my crack stash. I’ll never forget it. It’ll stay with me forever. Broke her heart, man,” says Tracy.
Try an O.G. Recipe: Golden Fried Plantains
“First off, let’s get this straight: plantains are not bananas! They have a lot more goin’ on. When hard and green, they’re more savoury and good for fritters. Then when they get ripe – with just a few spots of black on the peel – they turn sweet. That’s the kind you want to make this dish, which actually originated in Ghana where it is called kele-wele. I like saying that out loud, over and over, while I’m cooking these,” says Tracy.
- 2 ripe-firm yellow plantains, peeled and sliced diagonally ¼ inch (just over 6mm) thick
- ½ teaspoon dried ginger
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- hot sauce for serving (optional)
- In a large bowl, toss the plantains, ginger, onion powder and cayenne. Let sit for 5 minutes.
- Melt the oil in a large non-stick or cast-iron pan over medium heat. Add the plantains and fry for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, until they are browned on the edges. Drain the plantains on a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with the salt. Serve with hot sauce if you like.
The Last O.G. S2 starts on Wednesday, 17 June on 1Magic (DStv 103) at 20:30