I'm not completely alone in this, but MREs -- Meals Ready to Eat --are really not that bad. There are a variety of entrees available, giving the options of choosing one's own poison, so-to-speak.
Here at Camp McGregor, MREs are the required lunch. Well, that is, if one doesn't eat a bag of chips or find the local catering truck that tools around the base, called "Indian Boy." More about that later.
We've all heard about MREs, but I've read precious little about how to eat them. Luckily, I was schooled in the proper procedure during my first visit with the 45th overseas, in Afghanistan in 2004.
It works like this. First, open the heavily constructed cardboard box. best to drop it from a C-130 transport plane. The MREs are in square packages covered with slick, thick plastic. These days, the plastic packages can be peeled open on one end.
First, select the meal you want.
1) Pick up meal marked "pork patty, chopped and formed."
3) Pick up "Country Captain Chicken."
5) Pick up "Chili and Macaroni."
6) That's the one.
7) Peel open and look at the various components. MREs have a variety of foodstuffs in them according to the meal plan. "Chili and Macaroni" has the entrée by name, chocolate chip cookies, "Cinnamon Royals" (Red Hots, actually, but they can't say that. Ours is not to wonder why.), Wheat Snack Bread, Jalapeno Cheese product, "accessory packet" containing a little roll of toilet paper, gum, a book of matches, salt, pepper, sugar and instant coffee, and a little plastic bag containing a packet of carbide, upon which you pour water to cause a chemical reaction that heats the entrée.
8) Eat the cookies.
9) Take the chili mac out of the cardboard box in which it resides. The food is in a foil pouch.
10) Cut or tear open one end of the plastic bag containing the carbide heater. Pour water into the pouch up to the line. If you pour it over the line, it will explode and blow the meal open, spreading chili mac across the tent and necessitate a visit from the fire brigade.
11) Not really. The pouch does get hot and the smoke coming off it will burn, really.
12) As it starts to fizz, generating the heat, slide the entrée pouch into the plastic bag.
13) Special tip: Put the little pouch of nacho cheese in too. Yum!
14) Place the plastic bag with the entrée and cheese pouch as it is bubbling and burning your hands into the cardboard entrée box. Set at a slight angle, smoking opening upward, about a half-inch above the table.
14) As meal heats, eat the red hots.
15) Skip the snack bread. Trust me.
16) After it heats for about 15 minutes, it's pretty hot. Remove from the pouch and wipe off the excess carbide sludge. It's deadly poison.
17) Not really, I guess.
18) Matter of personal taste, but I slice the foil pouch holding the chili mac lengthwise, making for a better scoop with a plastic spoon.
20) Repeat as necessary.
We have made it to Kuwait! More soon.