Photographer Ashley Gilbertson narrates this audio slideshow, presenting photo comparisons of the pre-packaged contents of Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) from 15 nations, as officially distributed to their soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Some general observations: Food for warriors often includes nostalgic tastes from home. One French packaged meal can be traded for five American packaged meals. However, many other cultures crave the American packages, because they contain “fun food” — hamburgers, natchos, Skittles candy, peanut butter and pound cake. Australian MREs include vegemite. Italians get three disposable tooth brushes in their daily packages. British soldiers have about 40 menus to choose from, but the most popular is lamb curry, including a small bottle of Tabasco sauce, and tea, of course. German soldiers sometimes get a Bosnian-Serbian ground beef meal and Austrian bread with a shelf-life of many years. Polish soldiers eat goulash. The potato servings in Canadian meals sizzle like gunpowder and firecrackers when thrown into a fire.
Gilbertson says this:
In combat, eating is often the only good thing about a day. When a soldier or marine sits down to warm up his M.R.E., he’s not being shot at, he’s not losing friends. It’s almost a ritual, and the very act of opening one of these packages suggests safety, however brief it may be.
To a lot of the troops from many nations that I’ve met, mealtimes are the only thing to look forward to – other, perhaps, than going home.
The slideshow includes photo comparisons of meals for soldiers from the following countries: United States, Canada, Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Lithuania, Ukraine, South Korea, and Australia.