Saturday, August 23, 2003

Experience - But to What End?

Los Feliz, CA:
Beset by a whim, as I often am, and enveloped in curiosity, if not the very curiosity which prays on cats one quite similar, I had a soldier's meal tonight. The soldier's meal is an MRE or Meal Ready to Eat and it can survive a 1000 foot drop. The tough brown plastic bag in which it came, suspiciously labeled 'Chicken a la King,' required scissors to invade. A grab bag of olive-drab packets and boxes, my meal seamed like it had everything to satisfy the modern, on-the-go fighting man.

The Chicken a la King itself, in an olive drab packet hidden inside an olive-drab box, tasted like a chicken pot-pie. Not a Swanson Chicken Pot-Pie but a lower-case store brand chicken pot pie missing a crust. It was edible enough and I suspect would be quite welcome after a hard day of marching and saluting, but I suspect further that after being shot at I'd have to put some of the salt from Accessory Pack A* in to liven things up a bit.

There were crackers with which to scoop up some of the lower case, crust free, pot-pie with, but after tasting them I considered going back to the included plastic spoon, which tasted slightly different. At first I double checked to make sure I'd actually opened the crackers and not the Paper Toilet (yes the order of those words is correct) found in Accessory Pack A*

One of the most fascinating bits in the whole affair was the Maple Nut Cake. I was intriged that this kind of confectionary was included. When I picked up the packet it was hard and heavy. Perhaps you remember sqeezing all the empty space out of bread as a kid and eating as a tight hard lump, well imagining this you be close to what an MRE Maple Nut Cake is like. It tasted like one of the less reputable pastery brands that convinience stores--the kind with overly large booze and porn magazine sections--would let collect dust until a desperate soul in dire need of pay-telephone change gives into the store's draconian no change without purchase policy.

Next up was the powdered coffee, creamer substitute, and six gram sugar packet ensemble. While it may be my fault for not having a mil-spec canteen one-third full as the directions required, the beverage was not awful, but an insipid semi-satisfaction for this non-coffee achiever.

I was left full despite not finishing the chocolate covered cookie or the air-spaceless Maple Nut Cake, and completely avoiding the strangely colored brown cheese spread that tasted like any other strangely colored brown cheese spread that you might encounter. In fact I'll go so far as to claim satisfaction. But then I grew up on Corned Beef Hash and canned spinach topped with Miracle Whip on the side, a delicacy my dad passed on like an heirloom from his somewhat impoverished childhood. Which is kind of fitting in a stretched connection sort of way, since he used this strange diet as fuel in his imaginary ambushes on the North Koreans as they attempted to invade El Cajon, CA by way of the low mountains of Alpine a few miles to the East.

*Accessory Pack A
-Coffee-Cream Substitute
-Chewing Gum (a bit rocky at first but it settles down to be merely inedible)
-Paper Toilet (in too small of a portion considered what sort of mess the meal may leave you in)

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