Monday, November 3, 2008

MRE Menu Item #13: Vegetarian Cheese Tortellini

So I was going through one of my Army duffel bags and I found this bad boy shoved in the bottom. It is my favorite MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) of all, Cheese Tortellini! I was probably doing some field stuff and saved it for later and then forgot to eat it. The vegetarian MREs have always been my favorites and this is good because a lot of times other guys don't want them and they end up being left over. Anyways, I know I am not being too original here, the whole MRE review w/Pictures has been done on a hundred blogs and websites before. But this is an opportunity for me to share a small part of the ol' Army life with my small audience and perhaps it will interest someone. I don't think the vegetarian meals get much press and as you will see this ration is really very decent, all things considered.

Here are the elements of Menu No. 13 Vegetarian Cheese Tortellini. First is the main meal, Cheese Tortellini-

This is very decent, on par with any frozen/foil packed pasta dish that you would get at the grocery store. The tortellinis are a little mushy but, I'm tellin' you, it's pretty damn good.

Some spiced apples, which I really hate along with everyone else. The preserved fruit always seem to end up getting thrown back in the box uneaten, although I do hear that the old timers could make booze out of fruit cocktail. I actually knew a guy who used to do something kind of funny with things like spiced apples. He would wait until everyone was eating and then yell "Who wants a brownie (a very popular item)?!" and then throw the apples or whatever into the middle of a group of hungry guys and watch them scramble for it. That always made me laugh.

Next is one of my favorites, peanut butter and crackers. There are variations on this theme, you got cheese, cheese with jalapenos, cheese with bacon, and various jellies. The crackers are kind of a military tradition and harken back to the days of Hardtack. I have caught some wicked stomach bugs overseas where these dry crackers were all I could stomach. I stash the peanut butter in my survival bag when I can, it is a high calorie and shelf stable emergency food.

Then you have dessert, in this case some Walnut Toffee. This is actually some commercial candy named "Walnettos" by the Diamond brand. Nice retro wrapper and actually kind of tasty.

If that is not enough sweetness for you, chow down on some carrot pound cake. A lot of guys like the pound cakes, there are a bunch of flavors. I find them to be kind of gross, but none the less very edible. This is one of the better ones, it tastes like if you took a piece of carrot cake and squished it in your pocket all day. There are flecks of orange in it that kind of look like carrot.

After all of this delicious food you have the accessory pack. This one includes Spiced Cider, seasoned salt, iodized salt, toilet paper, matches, gum and a moist towelette.

Finally you have the cooking implements and utensil. Here we have the water activated heater, a bag for making hot beverages, and the all important spoon. The newer heaters actually do a pretty good job of heating up your meal, not too shabby.

My favorite part of the heater is the instructions. As with everything in the Army, from artillery to MREs, all things are supposed to be "Idiot Proof". I know this is a little blurry but it is the part of the instructions telling you to lean your heating meal against "A rock or something".

A favorite game of mine was always to think of random things for the "something" to be. As in, the skulls of my enemies or a monkey or another MRE heater.

Well thats it, I am sure you all don't really care about MREs but there are thousands upon thousands of people out there eating these things as you are reading this. However good they are once in a while they do get tedious after a couple of days (or weeks), luckily most soldiers have access to normal chow even when deployed. Also, MREs have definitely gotten better in recent years. When I first came in they still had Ham Slice and Frankfurter in Sauce. We all used to call the Frankfurters the "five fingers of death". Now most of the menu options are pretty good, except for the Cheese Omelet which tastes like butthole.

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