Let's talk about food...
A number of you (yes, two is a number) have asked about the food down here, and how it compares to the ice.
Well, let me tell you...
The ice was nice for what it was/is and the parameters they had to work within. Typically, menus would be devised, and food ordered, about a year and a half in advance. It would then come in on a ship in February, be put away, and used when necessary. Sous Chefs would then 'create' dishes using what they had at hand.
Frankly, I'm opposed to anything that has a foreign and/or unpronounceable word in the title...and there were a bunch.
Used to be we got two entree choices, but with the NSF budget cuts of 2007-2009, the selection dwindled down to only one, and that's not really a choice. Okay, there was always PB&Js one could eat, but I don't claim that as a choice.
Freshies (fresh fruits and vegetables) are hit and miss, and pretty non-existant during the winter. It's expensive to fly down a pallet or two on a C-17.
The last couple of years down there I took to eating more snack foods out of the Store. Not nearly as fulfilling as a hot meal AND I get the privilege of paying for it.
Iraq, on the other hand - FANTASTIC! (much to my waistline's chagrin) The dining facilities (DFACs) are huge, and serve thousands over four meals. There are two main lines, serving a variety of entrees, vegetables, rolls/bread, etc. There's a specialty line which does themes (i.e. Taco Bar, Wing Bar, Mongolian BBQ, etc.). There's also a full-service sandwich line that puts 'em together just how you like 'em, and can even make a panini for you. I also just discovered a small stand in the DFAC that only does rotisserie chicken - different flavors on different days. It's VERY good.
Once your entree is selected, there's a wonderful salad bar. I've taken to having one at both lunch and dinner. Ample freshies everyday!
Soft drinks and juices are free for the taking. Drink up!
And then, to finish it all up, there's the DESSERT BAR! :P Imagine this - a glass case, filled with fresh carrot cake, chololate cake, cookies, and pasteries. Next to it is a hot bar with apple, blackberry, and cherry cobbler. Mmmmm... And if you go the other direction there's a man that will scoop-up Baskin-Robbins ice cream for you, and allow you to visit the topping bar.
I swear, it's difficult to not eat too much.
Oh, and get this, there's one man, in a little cube, and his sole job is to cut fruit. Offerings are watermelon, honeydew, canteloupe, and sometimes pineapple. He wields his knife like a samurai, removing the fruit from the rind, then with a few stacatto chops, slices the fruit into manageable portions. He will then place as much as you want on your plate. This guys is GREAT!
I'm eating more fruits and salads here than I ever did back home. It's so much easier when someone else is doing the preparing. :)
So, temperance and restraint are key. Not easy attributes with so many choices. Still, I've vowed to be 80% of the man I was when I left home. Jan deserves that, and so do I.
Good thing there are four gyms here at Taji...