Food Critics in Camouflage
August 21, 2007 12:06 AM   Subscribe

lol at the pudding reviews, especially this one: "The vanilla pudding is so good that I ripped it open. Licked the inside and rolled around on top of it like a dog."

When my husband was in the Army (1987-1994) he used to bring home uneaten MREs to let me try them. I'll tell ya, the desserts were the ONLY palatable things in the whole package. *shudder*
posted by amyms at 12:13 AM on August 21, 2007

The Kosher MRE got ✡ ✡ ✡ ✡
posted by Poolio at 12:17 AM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

"Jews in Green"? WTF? How about Catholics in Brown?
posted by growabrain at 12:29 AM on August 21, 2007

Do I smell a Big Green Jewish conspiracy?
posted by Poolio at 12:43 AM on August 21, 2007

From the La Times article:

"place it next to the flexible metal container holding our main course and lean them both against a large, round object that the drawing labeled as a "rock or something."
posted by bam at 12:51 AM on August 21, 2007

oops. you'll get it. sorry.
posted by bam at 12:52 AM on August 21, 2007

This thread needs more buffalo sauce.
posted by mullacc at 1:23 AM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Many of the comments in the Smoking Gun article, mention cigarettes being a part of MREs (and frustration at lack of said cigs). Does anyone know what's up with that?
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 2:00 AM on August 21, 2007

When I would stumble off the late flight from Taji, long after the mess had closed and I was the kind of bone-tired that only a marathon 18 hours of training sessions followed by three hours of sitting on the howling, dusty, windsept tarmac waiting for an open spot on a Blackhawk on top of a month of 16-hour days and so goddamn hungry it felt like every nerve of my body was a howling, vibrating string stretched tight between my stomach and skin ...

... there was no joy more sublime than grabbing a random MRE and a bottle of water from the open pallet next to my hooch, ripping it open, and discovering that Lady Fortune had guided my hand in the dark towards a Beef Enchilada with Mexican Rice and Jalapeno "cheese" spread. It was my favorite. I would wolf it down cold in 30 seconds and cherish every bite.
posted by xthlc at 2:00 AM on August 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

What this thread REALLY needs i a beverage bag? How the hell am I supposed to mix this without a beverage bag?

(By the way, what is a beverage bag?)
posted by donkeymon at 2:02 AM on August 21, 2007

Also many of them ask for liquor. Did MREs ever come with liquor??? I thought drinking on the job was a big no-no.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 2:03 AM on August 21, 2007

Beverage bag. The drink mixes are dry powder, the bags are marked with proportions, e.g., "fill with water to this line". No beverage bag and you mix the powder and water in your mouth, I guess.
posted by jamaro at 2:15 AM on August 21, 2007

PostIronyIsNotaMyth: "Many of the comments in the Smoking Gun article, mention cigarettes being a part of MREs (and frustration at lack of said cigs). Does anyone know what's up with that?"

Don't know exactly, but during WWII for example free cigarettes were distributed to the soldiers; for instance by the American Red Cross. It has even been speculated that those cigarettes are responsible for more deaths than the war itself...
posted by PontifexPrimus at 2:32 AM on August 21, 2007

The only decent MRE's are the vegetarian ones - if you're in the Army make sure you get listed as a veggie.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 4:17 AM on August 21, 2007

It was nearly universally agreed upon that the crackers should come with cheese spread.
posted by poppo at 4:34 AM on August 21, 2007

Please, never post stuffed cabbage again, worst P(ost)RE, ever.
posted by oddman at 4:48 AM on August 21, 2007

That was a joke, btw. :)
posted by oddman at 4:48 AM on August 21, 2007

"Chicken loaf scares me".
posted by biscotti at 5:06 AM on August 21, 2007

Napoleon: "An army marches on its stomach."

Out on extended field patrols in the snowy uplands of Bavaria, we used to combine MRE peanut butter, cocoa powder and instant coffee into one gut congealing mixture. After a day or three of this, your entire digestive system ceases to function, but you remain shiveringly alert, appropriately bellicose and with the steadily increasing conviction that had the invading Red hordes appeared as predicted, the mere sight of our strained beserker faces — rictus snarls stoked by inner fires of gastric distress — would have caused those gutless (if you will) Commies to flee, saving the Free World without a shot.
posted by Haruspex at 5:12 AM on August 21, 2007 [9 favorites]

I feel compelled to admit that I always liked the pasta and meatballs. Sadly, they were just like my mother's.
posted by Pecinpah at 5:47 AM on August 21, 2007

LRDG rations during WWII in the Libyan desert included a tot of rum - rather fitting for the Pirates of the Desert (or Libyan Desert Taxi Service as the S.A.S. labeled them). They also included tobacco and a book of matches. LRDG drivers also doubled as cooks in some instances - cooking the (frankly awful) rations on the engines of their Chevrolet trucks as they drove through the desert.

Rations nowadays are unbelievably good compared to what our forefathers had to contend with, considering the rationing at home, the tommy in the field was limited to some novel treats. Naval units (particularly submariners) had such delicacies as "baby's heads", "shit-on-a-shingle" and other colourfully named foodstuffs.
posted by longbaugh at 5:51 AM on August 21, 2007

Oh yeah, MRE's are the (gut) bomb. When my dad would go off to two week guard training in the summer, there were two things I'd look forward to.

One - Because he was a chaplain, he wasn't allowed to carry a gun. But the Chaplain's Assistant sure as hell could carry a gun. And when camp was over, the Chaplain's Assistant would drive my dad to our house in a real live Army Jeep, and he had an M-16 or whatever slung over his shoulder. That was so cool when you were 8 years old. Thinking back, I'm not sure that was totally allowed by the Army, but whatever.

And of course, dad coming back from camp meant that me and my sister would get about 10 of the leftover MRE's. We knew they weren't good at all, but the sheer novelty of brown plastic bags with vague descriptions of the partially dehydrated semifood was just too much. Dad knew the tricks about crumbling your saltines into the peaches and adding water to make peach cobbler. And we had scads of half empty mini Tabasco bottles all over the place. We never used hot sauce as a condiment at home, but it was a necessity with the MRE's.

We tended to eat the MRE's a lot for lunch on Saturday afternoons when my mom was not around to make sure that we had a proper meal. I guess my dad was lazy and couldn't make anything to eat besides ham sandwiches. But we looked forward to it; pulling the heavy duty cardboard box out from the bottom shelf of the pantry and sorting through the various numbered meals, hoping you'd hit the jackpot.
posted by mbd1mbd1 at 6:18 AM on August 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

Haruspex - That's just about the funniest, truest, thing I've read all month. Thanks.
posted by Sk4n at 6:43 AM on August 21, 2007

As a civilian living in the world's foodiest city, Mr. GM did a little MRE home taste test a couple of years ago.
posted by GrammarMoses at 6:54 AM on August 21, 2007

Here is the MRE contract information, including the technical data on exactly what meals contain what.
posted by c0nsumer at 7:23 AM on August 21, 2007

Longbaugh, too true. I'm amazed at how much they've changed since the early 80s. I can't even begin to imagine how miserable the standard fare was of, say, your average 17C British tar, all weevily biscuit and stringy saltpork (if lucky). Tots of rum must have helped, but good god, how do you fight (much less have the will to survive) on a diet like that?
posted by Haruspex at 7:51 AM on August 21, 2007

"Did not get to try. Meal got taken."

Ah, now I know what all my school bullies made of themselves.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 7:51 AM on August 21, 2007

When I think that MRE's are designed with two major goals in mind, them being 1) deliver calories to the soldier in the field and 2) handle storage in a variety of temp and still be edible after long periods of time, it's amazing that these things get any good marks.

As to why they are asking for beer, smokes and dip, well it's the old adage, "If you don't ask, they'll never give it to you." Back whenI first had MRE's in the late 80's they were uniformily awful (with the exception of the freeze dried strawberries) and now, they are much more bearable. They even come with little bottles of Tabasco (refered to as "MRE Survival Kit")

But yeah, after eating them for a sustained amount of time, the guts lock down.

And the heaters in a pinch can be used to keep you warm. Although the fumes they put off smell like ass.
posted by Dagobert at 8:37 AM on August 21, 2007

I've actually eaten a good number of the "My Own Meals" after learning about them through gluten-free sources (about half of their line are gluten-free varieties). They're very good, not too salty either, and good to have around when you want a quick healthy pre-cooked meal that you just need to heat up.

The beef stew is particularly good.
posted by Asparagirl at 9:03 AM on August 21, 2007

We did something similar a few years back. Ours was a little more ghetto, but it's still a funny read.This was our fun little MREview [satanosphere].

I can still feel the bits of burrito in my bowels.
posted by mattoly at 11:25 AM on August 21, 2007

Never minded them going in. Better than eating roaches. Coming out though...rather eat the insects, more roughage.
It always seemed to me that they got into trouble when they got fancy. Peanut butter is hard to screw up and even when you do, it’s still protein.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:22 PM on August 21, 2007

As someone who has eaten plenty of MRE's ... they were really not that bad. I actually enjoy them from time to time.
posted by crewshell at 4:22 PM on August 21, 2007

Haruspex, I've read (perhaps not in a reliable source) that a reason the Dutch basically dominated the sea for a while is that theirs was the only European navy that fed the common sailors anything like a reasonable amount of food. Everyone else's sailors were half-starved and chronically short on protein; no wonder they couldn't fight as well.
posted by hattifattener at 8:50 PM on August 21, 2007

Maybe I have a stereotypical view of the average soldier, but I never expected to see so many requests for "more granola."
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:21 PM on August 21, 2007

"Make spoon a mulit-utensil. EG include razor blades and toothbrush."

Wow I sure hope that guy never becomes a product engineer.
posted by SassHat at 10:28 PM on August 21, 2007

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