Next time you’re settling in for dinner take a look at what’s on your plate... chicken, beef, a sprout or two? Maybe some carbohydrates like bread and mashed potatoes with gravy? Now think about how different your daily meal would be if you were in the army.
Army field rations differ from country to country — some consist of much the same as a regular meal albeit in a less-appealing, dehydrated, vacuum-sealed package; others contain a few home comforts like liver sausage spread for German troops or little cans of cassoulet with duck confit for the French. The traditional duck-fat laden dish has been a favorite of the French armed forces for generations… generals believed a few bites would give their troops an edge on the battlefield. The decadent four-course combat meal was hearty enough to sustain the Frenchmen but tasty enough to satisfy their picky palates.
The earliest garrison rations for the United States Army, for about a century after 1776, were an all-inclusive meal of meat, bread, and vegetables. Civil War rations were increased, allowing for bread, salted meat, beans, rice, and a pound of potatoes per man were issued three times a week. Today, the army is offered A-rations (fresh food prepared on-site), B-rations (unit-sized packaged trays usually heated by immersion), ready-to-eat meals(MRE’s), and first-strike rations (designed to be eaten on the move).
Understandably, the food troops request the most is pizza, which is a little difficult to whip up on the battlefield. But researchers at a U.S. military laboratory are determined to give it a shot and say they’re close to perfecting a dehydrated pizza which will stay fresh for three years without being frozen — options include cheese, pepperoni and turkey-pepperoni.
When you look at army rations these days it’s interesting to see what all those sealed, nondescript packets contain. While each sealed package looks similar, the contents can vary dramatically. Here’s a closer look at what some of the world’s armies are eating in the field.
Serusha Govender is the Travel Editor for The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @SerushaGovender