I must confess that besides real good food, both fancy and rustic, still some of my gastronomic weaknesses are those little packets of food we find anywhere: sandwich from the airplane, teabags from hotel rooms, little butters, cream cheese and marmalade packs from café breakfasts, even little packets of sugar and creamer from McDonald’s on a road trip– pass! I don’t know, but you see, I like that feeling that when I rummage through my bag, I find such little stuff that I was talking about. I really like it.
Now this food feature is not precisely in praise of the little food stuff, but… can you really shove in your bag , without deforming nor spilling them, real gourmet food that could keep forever- Thai chicken, penne pasta, dried cranberries, crackers, peanut butter, pineapple upside- down cake, and even Tabasco sauce bottle? And having all these in your backpack, hike up the mountains for an eternity? Yes, you can! Impossible is nothing, isn’t it?
When my sister went home bringing these MRE’s from the war zone, I couldn’t contain my joy. I was clutching at the brown bag like a school kid eager to wrestle with any bully who’d lay a finger on my lunch. Why, what’s in that precious little brown bag? Thai chicken, penne pasta, dried cranberries, crackers, peanut butter, pineapple upside- down cake, and even Tabasco sauce bottle. And more! Like wet wipes and silica.
Seriously, these MRE’s are what the American troops have to offer to the local soldiers. The Philippines’ love affair with the United States is I-hate-you-I-love-you / Go-away-Can’t-live-without-you crap that I still wonder sometimes what truly are the American troops doing here in the Philippines. And while American soldiers have the tendency to think that they are the saviors of the world (Don’t they??) and though they have this penchant to do armament business with us (which I hate), the American government is such a looming giant we cannot ignore. My sister has been married to an American but that 6’4” officer would worry- more than being killed at war- if his wife’s youngest sister doesn’t like him. Oh well!
Therein lies the ultimate difference between the Philippine and American troops and the reason why they are in a constant passionate love- hate friction: their food. A Philippine soldier would risk his life getting hit with a shrapnel while catching chicken in the mountains while the American would be content munching on a calorie- loaded- laboratory- engineered crackers under the shade of a tree. Inside their backpacks? Ten kilos of goods- rice and sardines and a kaldero for the local soldier while four kilos of microwave for the foreigner, plus megatons of MRE packs. And while the Philippine soldier fans his little campfire as his rice simmers, the American most probably spends the whole night looking for a socket to plug his microwave in. The MRE says, “Microwavable”. Follow instructions. Or you’re fired.
Hey, it’s really good- the MRE pack. The perfect peanut butter (which I sucked right from the tube), a Tabas-quito (little Tabasco sauce), sliced cranberries…. Ah, God bless Americans!