Army Cooks: recipes for survival and victory!

Army Cooks, Narofuminsk © Martin Kollar

Photographer Martin Kollar and filmmaker Peter Kerekes have been documenting Army Cooks from all over Eastern Europe and beyond, as part of an ongoing project that started in 1991. In his brilliant introduction to the project, Kerekes begins: “They are ordinary men in aprons worn over their uniforms, whose task is to feed the army. They take care of the operation of a giant stomach, a big hungry child with its moods – the Army.”
The stories of these exceptionally-inventive cooks are often disgusting and humorous, horrifying and unforgettable. Please check out the full text and the series of photos in this feature in Lens Culture.
Here are just two examples:
TASTING, from Army Cooks, Sarajevo © Martin Kollar
Velia Katica – chief veterinary of Sarajevo under the siege:
“In order to survive we had to mix whatever we had, good and bad, into one mass of food. Five tons of meat that has just started to go off can be safely mixed with 10 tons of fresh meat. That way, we were able to provide enough protein supply for the people there without poisoning them. The harmful bacteria got spread equally between everyone.”

ZORAN AND ZLATKO / SERBIAN ARMY, from Army Cooks, Beograd © Martin Kollar
During the day, they are cooks for the Serbian and Montenegran army, in the evenings they cater for special occasions.
1 pretty woman, 48-60kg
3 heads of cabbage
0.5 kg thinly sliced “pršut” / Prosciutto or similar ham
0.7 kg thinly sliced Prague style ham
0.3 kg salami
0.4 kg smoked turkey breast
0.5 kg thinly sliced Edam cheese
0.7 kg grated cheese “kaškaval”
1 kg chopped tomatoes
1 kg of lemons cut into slices
0.2 kg of green or black olives
2 tortoise shells
0.3 kg of radishes
0.4 kg of cucumbers
0.3 kg of cooked snails with snail shells
Fruit and vegetables to garnish.

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