What Armies Eat Around the World (Slideshow)

From pasta to potato to halva pudding, this is what different countries feed their men and women in service


The Canadian ration pack contains a choice between vegetarian couscous or salmon fillet in Tuscan sauce for the main meal, Bear Paw snacks, and the ingredients to make a peanut-butter and jelly (raspberry jam) sandwich for breakfast. Perhaps surprisingly, there is no maple syrup included in the pack. 


Of all the ration packs, the Australian one has the most tiny-packaged treats, most of which are parceled by the military. The myriad bags contain jam sandwiches, Vegemite, Fonterra- processed cheddar cheese, two “chocolate-ration” bars, sweets, soft drinks, a tube of sweetened condensed milk, and main meals of chili and tuna pasta.


The Spanish pack has a little disposable heater with matches and fuel tabs for heating or cooking the individually packaged meals, as well as a lot of vitamins including glucose sachets, vitamin C, and water purification and rehydration tablets. The food is a Mediterranean mix of squid in vegetable oil, cans of ham and green beans, and packets of powdered vegetable soup. For dessert there are peaches in syrup.


German soldiers are offered sour cherry and apricot jam for breakfast. Also in the pack are several envelopes of grapefruit and exotic-juice powder to add to water, a sachet of Italian biscotti, and the familiar treat of liver-sausage spread with rye bread. The main meal is goulash with potatoes.


Aside from the traditional cassoulet with duck confit, the French pack also contains deer pâté, creole-style pork, and crème chocolate pudding. There is also instant coffee and some flavored drink powder to add to water. Breakfast is muesli with a little Dupont d’Isigny caramel. Also included is a tiny disposable heater to warm the meals before eating. 


You would expect good food from the Italian ration pack, which does not disappoint. There’s a traditional pasta and bean soup and canned turkey that come with a small camping stove to be heated on, as well as a rice salad. Dessert is a power sports bar, canned fruit salad or a muesli chocolate bar, and as a bonus there’s a breakfast shot of 40 percent alcohol cordiale. 

United Kingdom

The British rations are packed with familiar English treats including Typhoo tea, a mini bottle of Tabasco and a little can of Kenco coffee. The rest of the pack includes British favorites like pork and beans for breakfast, chicken tikka masala, and vegetarian pasta. There are also sachets of trail mix, an apple fruit pocket, and a lot of sweets including Polos. And, of course, there are enough teabags for England included.


Estonian troops prefer more varied fare in their packages which include liver sausage with potatoes, chicken-meat pâté, and smoked sprats with stuffed peppers. Breakfast is muesli with a fruit pocket and honey, plus there are plenty of crispbreads on the side and a halva pudding for dessert. 


Despite the legendary tastes and flavors of Singapore cuisine, their army ration packs are disappointingly drab and minimal. There are just three dishes on offer: Szechuan chicken noodles; a chicken, basil, mushroom, and rice dish; and red-bean cake with soy milk for dessert. 

United States

The U.S. ration pack offers a less traditional option for its main meal: pasta with vegetables in a spicy tomato sauce that can be heated with a flameless heater (a U.S. invention where water is added to the plastic bag and sealed, which then cooks the meal inside the pouch). The rest of the pack contains peanut butter with crackers, spiced apple cider, cranberries, and almond poppy-seed pound cake.