Before now poetry has taken notice
Of wars, and what are wars but politics
Transformed from chronic to acute and bloody?
from "Build Soil"
Robert Frost

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Iraqi Gourmet

The food here is the best I've had in the military to date. I don't know how much that really says about it, but it's not too bad. The chow hall is a basic buffet line- a hot food line as you come in the door, an island with salad and other things that food eats, another station with sandwich materials, pasta, and some variety of other hot courses, and a desert bar.

The main line has a rotating menu selection. Sunday is steak and seafood, and I don't care enough about the other offerings to pin down what days they appear. I'm usually bored by the first line anyway. Sandwiches are great to make and take along to eat later on mission (which is against the rules, but who's counting?). The rest of the menu on the auxiliary station is what interests me. Occasionally, it's "picnic food" such as mac&cheese, hot dogs, or other such boring offerings, but usually it's ethnic food of one sort or another. Picky eating was bred out of me long ago, and it's at this station I usually head in search of something good to eat.

A few days ago, I started with a breakfast of Indian Sheikh Kebab- small seasoned sausages with grilled onions and tomatoes, wrapped in naan flatbread. For lunch I had parts of an MRE because we were out on mission and I forgot a sandwich (Okay, so that was a major low point). Dinner was French Beef Provencale, pork and shrimp stuffed pepper, and spinach salad that I threw orange slices and walnuts into.

There's enough diversity in our diet to keep me mostly happy. The thing that bothers me about eating here, and one of the things that I miss most about home, is not being able to cook anything myself. One of my favorite pastimes at home was cooking, preferably something exotic, and here I'm reduced to thumbing through old issues of Bon Appetite at the rec center.

Home feels so near I can taste it.


  1. I like to cook, too. Maybe the Food Network chefs will visit, especially Giada.

  2. It does sound particularly good for "institutional food". Sort of takes me back to the Roosevelt (CVN-71). We only got steak and seafood just before coming back into port...which doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense.

    Anyway, I never really had time to stand in line for a proper meal. Always just breezed past the sandwich island for tuna. Or was it chicken? I hope.

    It's good to find small pleasures as I recall. Stay safe. Keep writing.

  3. Huh! Long way from c-rats and k-rats. Oh well, telling my age now, I am.

  4. Anonymous28/1/07 19:07

    Hey that's cool that an Army mess has interesting food. Too bad about your MRE's tho -- the Canadian ones rock by comparison (at least that's been my experience, as that's where I served).
    I actually have fond memories of the mess at Shilo, an artillery training base in the middle of nowhere -- gained weight there.
    Then there was this mess in London for an infantry battalion -- no matter what they served, it all tasted the same: bad.

  5. Anonymous28/1/07 19:29

    So... I miss you cooking for me. Especially after eating on the road for a month. :P

  6. Anonymous29/1/07 11:41

    You know... if you give us an address, we'll send you some current magazines. I've got about a year's worth of Bon Appetite, Gourmet and Wine Spectator that my mother signed me up for as a present.