East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Progress report and French cuisine

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I’m past the 5000 words mark as I stop and go invent something for dinner.
And once again I spent about one hour of today’s first writing session doing extra research for flavor.

The big surprise of the day – research-wise – was discovering the contents of the French RCIR, military-issued rations, called the “Ration de Combat Individuelle Rechauffable” (Combat Ration Individual Reheatable).


My only personal experience with military rations was during my service in the Italian Air Farce, on the single occasion in which we were taken to the field.
To call the experience underwhelming would be an understatement.
And Italians are supposed to be good with food, but the general wisdom was that some predatory NCO was reselling the rations and feeding the troops the leftovers.

The French rations, it turns out, come in an assortment of 14 different menus, each packed in a small box.


Each box includes: Main meals x2, Hors d’oeuvre, Soup, Cheese or a Crème dessert, Salted and Sweet crackers x16, Chocolate bar, Package of caramels, Gum, “Breakfast package” (Tea, Coffee, Cocoa, Milk powder, Sugar, etc), Nougat bar, Fruit gelee, Sugar cubes, Paper towels x10, Heating kit with fuel, disposable stove, waste bag and water purification tablets x6.


Hors d’ouvres include mackerel in sauce, ham paté, hare paté and venison terrine.
Main courses include paella, sweet and sour pork, lamb Navarin, Basque chicken, squid armoricaine, sauté of rabbit…
I’ll have to track down the recipes for a few of these.

And this is a long way from the crushed crackers and tinned meat we airmen got on that gloomy day in 1994, inside a plastic bag, together with a leaflet that listed also chocolate and brandy none of us ever saw.

And now turns out you can buy the French boxes on eBay!
Curious minds…

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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