Monday, March 09, 2015

Daily Rations - Part 1 - Cabbage Rolls

Over the next week I've decided to sample ration pack meals.  In the past I wrote an entire review on a ration box (this box contains all that a soldier would need to survive a day), and I've attempted to make an improved dessert out of ingredients from various ration packs.  This week I've decided to sample a different ration pack meal for lunch every day.  I've only recently discovered the curiosity that is a ration pack, and since sampling one, I've been obsessed with trying more.

One thing to keep in mind is that ration packs are not really designed for taste.  The most important part of a ration pack is to feed a soldier (or sometimes a civilian in a difficult situation), as well as provide them with the nutrition they need to survive and keep moving.  This means two things, first of all these packs are designed to last.  Many ration packs can last several years with out going bad, and can also survive with no refrigeration.  Ration packs are also designed to give the person eating them a very specific amount of energy, enough to carry heavy gear through hostel environments. That means they have lots of the stuff the average health conscious person sitting at home probably wouldn't want to eat, like lots of salt and sugar.

For the first meal I've decided to sample a cabbage rolls.  This is a difficult food for me to review because of my heritage.  I'm half Ukrainian, and that means that I have memories of my grandmother making me cabbage rolls when I was a kid, and I loved them.  So no matter how hard I try, I have to compare these to hers.  In fact the only reason I took this particular ration pack in the first place was to compare my memory of my grandmothers cabbage rolls to these one coming out of a package that is at least two years old.  Seems fairly unfair doesn't it?

As you can imagine these don't hold up at all to the ones my grandmother made. In fact these were so awful I had a really hard time getting through them.  To start, I'll mention the parts that I didn't mind, and then I dedicate a paragraph to why I couldn't stomach these.  The sauce was the surprise highlight of this meal.  It was a little sweet, but it had a nice tomato flavour and I might even say I liked it more than my grandmothers.  My grandmother's sauce was a lot dryer and didn't have nice chunks of tomato like this sauce did.  I also liked the cabbage, but to be honest, screwing up the cabbage would have taken some serious work.  It's pretty much the easiest part of this whole meal.

The part I hated was the part that took up the most space in this meal, and that was the filling.  My grandmother's cabbage rolls consisted of rice, pork, spices, and occasionally some very finely chopped vegetables. This filling contained meat, a big block of thick dense mystery ground meat.  It was like eating a giant disgusting meatball.  I think it may have worked a little better if the meat wasn't so tightly packed, and I think you could have achieved that by mixing in some rice, vegetables, or something.

Unfortunately for the first meal, things aren't going that well.  However I have hopes for some of the future meals.  I thought that I would start with a tough one, and maybe save a few of the "better" possibilities for later this week.  Even though this wasn't like my grandmother's cabbage rolls, I have to admit that in a pinch, it's still pretty amazing.


1 comment:

Wendy Kurt said...

Very well written Chris. As I have eaten many rations in my career, I have come to an understanding that you cannot compare some rations to the food you cook or others have cooked for you. I also find at times it is easier to eat rations in the dark as sometime not knowing what it is that you are eating is better than knowing.