Thursday, September 3, 2009

Heater Meals: Chicken Pasta Italiano

As you know, I have served in the military and have always been fascinated by shelf stable military cuisine (see here for an MRE review). I don't know why, but I get delighted opening up an MRE bag and seeing all of the little packages and containers of stuff.

In my experience, the above Heater Meal is used by the military in situations where MREs aren't necessary (they are actually fairly expensive), but it still isn't feasible to dole out fresh food. The heater meals seem to be replacing "Jimmy Deans" for these situations. By the way, if any military guys out there can explain why Jimmy Deans are called Jimmy Deans let me know, as they don't contain sausage of any kind. If you are not familiar, the Jimmy Dean was a shrink wrapped meal that contained a drink, a bun, cookies, some sort of dessert, and a can of either bbq beef, Vienna sausages, or chicken salad. No heating element was included and I always found them to be nasty. The bbq beef tasted like cigarette butts.

Opening up the heater meal we find an abundance of crap.

We have some bread sticks with chocolate peanut butter spread, apple sauce, snickerdoodle cookies, a can of iced tea, raisins, the main meal, the heating unit and a cunning little bag of water (to activate the heater). All in all, 1290 calories worth of processed delights to fill your rumbling belly.

Included in the cutlery package is "Papa's Perfect Salt Free Seasoning," which made me laugh for some unknown reason.

Here is the main meal, Chicken Pasta Italiano. I heated it with the heater as per the instructions. Pretty much same SOP as for an MRE. The heater worked well and brought the meal up to a decent temp.

I was not much of a fan of this one. To me it was as if you took Campbell's Minnestrone soup and strained out all of the chunky bits. There were beans, pasta, and other unidentifiable scraps of vegetable matter along with a few grey pieces of chicken. Unbearably bland as well, really needed the included seasoning packets. I would take almost any MRE over this bad boy any time. But I guess as a way to get some calories into your system with out too much fuss, the heater meals serve their purpose.

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