Thursday, December 3, 2009
For all soldiers in Afghanistan, the basics of living assume much greater importance.
Food, drink, sleep, cigarettes for some, press-ups for others, or a visit to the deep trench latrine, are all important rituals in the day.
Food is by far the most important element of this. There is an army joke that the chef's course is the hardest in the Services because no chef seems to have passed it.
Whilst variety and taste has improved immeasurably in recent years, the staples are still there - bacon grill, sausages, tinned tomatoes, powdered egg and beans for breakfast. Generally with porridge. Noodles and soup for lunch with a couple of rice or pasta choices for supper.
Military efficiency being what it is, the food is chosen for its nutritional value and ease of preparation. In this base we are particularly lucky that the chefs are doing an outstanding job.
Given limited ingredients the four chefs from of the Royal Logistic Corps have done us proud. The processed cheese cheesecake, tinned fruit crumble, pizza, spam balls in sweet and sour sauce, chicken jerky and fresh bread have all been added to the daily fare.
We all eat together on bench tables in the cook house. Cardboard plates and plastic cutlery are the order of the day in order to prevent the spread of illness.
But whilst there is much that is functional about the food the best days are reserved for when fresh rations come in. Steaks to order were a particular highlight, as well as fresh fruit in place of the processed fruit bar.
Being well fed is probably the single most important aspect of a soldier's morale. We still march on our stomachs.