Eating Off-BaseToday, just as ever in the military, the creative, adventurous, or lucky service member can improvise her own meals, or better yet, eat like the locals. "One of the main benefits of joining the military is seeing the world, and new service members can really take advantage of that by getting off base and trying food that many people may never get a chance to experience. That's one of the best things I've gotten out of it," Daniel Gorman declares. "I saw so many sailors in Japan never leave base because they served 'American' food, and they missed out on the phenomenal food available just outside the gate." Amy Holmes Harris agrees that some of her best meals in Afghanistan were locally inspired: "I liked it when they let the Afghan kitchen workers cook Afghan food: lamb kebabs; Kabuli pulao rice; manti, which are meat dumplings; and a spicy tomato-cauliflower dish."
One of Gorman's top food memories is of his time in the field in Kuwait, where he was deployed along with members of the Hawaii National Guard. "I was with a bunch of Pacific Islanders, and cooking is a big part of their culture. Their families back home would mail bags of rice, nori, dozens of cans of Spam, and bottles of shoyu [soy sauce] to make Spam musubi and grill up chicken on a barbecue we'd MacGyver together." (One of Gorman's top suggestions for new recruits: "Learn to cook.")
Finding some way to diversify food offerings on the base by integrating local culinary resources would be one change Lisa Horgan would heartily endorse for today's service members: "I loved the adventure of eating new cuisines and learning new styles of preparation from the locals. Somehow differences in politics and doctrine become insignificant when bonding over an amazing bowl of tikka masala," she notes.
What's most important, for both the health and the effectiveness of our men and women in the service, is that the quality of what's offered remain high: "Better food means more energy to train and fight with a clear head," Bridget Guerrero says. Jonathan B. Connors agrees: "The ability of our military to perform is based on several very important factors—a key factor is making sure they are well fed and healthy. If they are well fed, they will perform well."