Hot Sauce and culinary adventures on Afghan military bases

I’m a big fan of hot sauce.  Franks, Sriracha, Texas Pete, Tabasco, Cajun Sunshine they’re all good and as I found out, while eating DFAC food for two weeks while embedded with the Minnesota National Guard, they’re necessary.

Chicken nuggets and egg rolls for breakfast?  “Okay?  Where’s the hot sauce?”

Chicken nuggets and egg rolls for lunch, too?  “Damn it, I can still taste my breakfast, oh well.  Hot sauce, please.”

Romanian soup with meat and potatoes for dinner.  “Hey, this is really good.  I bet it will be even better with hot sauce.”

The food at the Dining Facilities (DFACs) wasn’t bad, okay the DFAC at Kandahar Air Field was pretty gross, but they’re making food for thousands, I could expect neither freshness nor quality.

I knew I was fortunate to be eating warm, prepared meals.  I didn’t really understand how fortunate I was until late-in-my-embed.  I was offered a Meal Ready to Eat (MRE)by CPT Carlson at FOB Viper.  Now if you’re a Soldier who is relying on MREs for sustenance you are in a bad place and the MRE will be devoured without a second-thought.  I had the luxury to give the MRE a second, third and fourth thought and because I had so much time to think I opted ultimately not to fully-indulge.

Had I Soldiered-up I would have devoured chemically-warmed chili with beans, Skittles, a Salmonella-laced dairy shake, crackers, and ‘cheese’.  I started out thinking I would eat the crackers and ‘cheese’ but as I squeezed the ‘cheese’ out of its packet a glob of unmixed ‘cheesy’ grease beat the rest of the ‘cheese’ out of the packet and oozed onto my cracker.  “Oh hell no” was my audible response.  The crackers weren’t bad.  Dense.  Maybe a little stale.  But all in all, a decent cracker.  The Skittles were tropically-flavored.  The were all stuck together and also a little, maybe I’ll say, stale.  But candy is candy.  It’s hard to mess up a Skittle.  The half-life of a Skittle would be…a large number.

A little info on the MRE.  Each Meal Ready to Eat contains about 1,250 calories.  It’s meant to fill you up.  36% of the calories come from fat.  The dairy shake has been recalled.  I was fairly warned of this as I was opening the MRE.

I ended up loosing between 5 and 10 pounds while I was in Afghanistan.  The food isn’t to blame for this.  The lack of beer, snacks and my increased activity level (like walking 250 meters to the showers) gets all of the credit.

DFAC breakfast

Chicken nuggets, hard boiled eggs and bacon. Breakfast of champions.

DFAC savior

Hot Sauce – saving meals in Afghan DFACs since 2001

Romanian soup

The photo does no justice. Soup stock, croutons, potatoes and bread. There’s a hunk of meat in there too. Good grub.