Monday, September 13, 2010

Meal, Ready-to-Eat: Chicken Cavatelli

Meal, Ready-to-Eat Chicken Cavatelli 1

One of my dad's customers gave him a bunch of MREs (Meal, Ready-to-Eat), field rations used by the American military. My dad said he remembered the rations tasting better, having traded for them during the Vietnam War so he could try American food. I don't know how much of that was nostalgia or truth. What my dad ate were either MCIs (Meal, Combat, Individual rations) or LRP (Long Range Patrol rations) which were replaced by the MREs in the early 1980s.

My brother told my dad to bring some down because he was curious to see what the MREs looked and tasted like. Guess my cousins were curious too because I remembered we had quite a crowd when I decided to photograph it all.

This was back in May 2008. Hey! I'm slowly getting caught up. :P

If the MREs are of interest, I can blog some more since my dad gave me about half a dozen rations I haven't opened yet.

The chicken cavatelli MRE came sealed in a thick plastic bag. Inside were also fig bars, toast with cheese spread, nut and raisin mix, fruit punch, coffee, and a flameless heat unit.

Meal, Ready-to-Eat Chicken Cavatelli 2

Flameless heat unit? Yeah, I'm wasn't sure how that was going to work either.

Meal, Ready-to-Eat Chicken Cavatelli 3

And tilting it is what activates the heat? I was completely mystified.

Meal, Ready-to-Eat Chicken Cavatelli 4

Here's the heating part.

Meal, Ready-to-Eat Chicken Cavatelli 5

What's it made of? How can this possibly work?

Meal, Ready-to-Eat Chicken Cavatelli 6

No idea what the pasta was going to look like since it was all sealed up too.

Meal, Ready-to-Eat Chicken Cavatelli 7

So I poured water into the pouch like the directions said, then placed both that and the pasta packet inside the box again. I had no idea how hot the flameless heater was going to get, so I set it inside a cast iron pot. Amazingly, the box did get pretty warm.

Meal, Ready-to-Eat Chicken Cavatelli 8

Let's eat some toast while we wait for the pasta to heat up.

Meal, Ready-to-Eat Chicken Cavatelli 9

Spread some cheese on top.

Meal, Ready-to-Eat Chicken Cavatelli 10

Mmm. Tasty?

No, it wasn't. The bread was thin and chewy. If you didn't have a choice and were really hungry...

Meal, Ready-to-Eat Chicken Cavatelli 11

The fig bars were slightly better. Although, I've never been a fan of fig bars to begin with because they taste nothing like fresh figs to me.

Meal, Ready-to-Eat Chicken Cavatelli 12

How about some stale-tasting nut and raisin mix?

Meal, Ready-to-Eat Chicken Cavatelli 13

Let's just wash away the taste of all that with some tropical punch.

Meal, Ready-to-Eat Chicken Cavatelli 14

Chicken and pasta is ready!

Wanna dig in?


That doesn't make you salivate?

Meal, Ready-to-Eat Chicken Cavatelli 15

Since the heating unit was now free, I decided to make some coffee. I added some water to the hot beverage bag.

Meal, Ready-to-Eat Chicken Cavatelli 16

Sealed it up and put the bag inside the box again.

Meal, Ready-to-Eat Chicken Cavatelli 17

Warm coffee. There's cream and sugar too if you need them.

Meal, Ready-to-Eat Chicken Cavatelli 18

Cousin A said she felt sorry for our troops who had to eat these.

The best item in the MRE?

Gotta be the gum.

Meal, Ready-to-Eat Chicken Cavatelli 19

1 year ago today, Cliff Palace - Mesa Verde National Park - Colorado.
2 years ago today, Sangria with Red Wine.
3 years ago today, 5 of 7 random things about me meme: I love Target.


  1. I was a conscript in the German Army a few years ago, our version of the MRE is called EPA. Nothing to write home about, but if you are out in the field and freezing, you'll really digging some hot pasta. Rumors said, that the newer vegetarian MREs are much more tastier.

    As for the heater thing: There's magnesium in the heater, it reacts heavily with the water and this reaction produces heat.

  2. I want to know more about how it tastes. Doesn't look that bad considering it's "ready to eat" out of a box with no external heat source. I wonder if it's really necessary to supply all of this for a soldier on the move. Ultimately, most of this seems like a luxury that is unnecessary for temporary rations.

  3. Minh,
    How fascinating! I Googled it to see. It's really interesting how the rations have cultural influences. I bet after slogging miles and being in the middle of nowhere, eating anything would taste good. And are you reading me from Germany? How cool!

    I have a vegetarian MRE. Maybe I'll open that soon and blog it.

    Thanks for telling me about magnesium. I'm not scientifically oriented at all, so that helps!

    Everything tasted really cardboard-y. None of us finished any of it, although we did all take bites to try. I think if you've been out in the bush for a while, even this luxury would be something nice to have on hand? It beats carrying the tin cans of previous rations?

  4. This is the first time seeing inside a MRE for me. Even though I have some in our garage right now due to the fact that my husband is in the military. LOL

    I remember when my husband was on tour in Iraq back in 2008, he made a postcard out of the MRE box. It said there was like only 100 calories or so in the chicken part of his MRE so I think the abundance of food in the box itself probably equates to approximately a good size meal if he ate all of it. He also told me since he was in the desert that there were times he didn't get to eat regularly due to a mission or if they didn't have enough or the supply truck hadn't come. So to me I think the amount they give you in the MRE is more of a necessity. My husband lost a lot of weight when he finally returned home.

  5. One of my college friends, who was a former Marine, and my ex roommate, who was in ROTC, occasionally waxed eloquent about how to make MREs taste better. I guess there's a small art to it.

  6. Diana,
    You never opened one to try out of curiosity? The contents are supposed to supply enough calories for a full meal. I have a friend in Afghanistan who complains about the food. Sometimes he just doesn't bother and skips meals because he can't stand to eat it anymore.

    I'm sure they come up with all kinds of tricks to make the MREs more palatable. The old stuff actually looks pretty good since all that canned mean is basically Spam. :P

  7. Oh, really interesting!! Usually I'm game for foods all packed up "special", and that pasta doesn't look all that bad, but that "cheese" is seriously wrong.

  8. TS,
    Haha. Yeah, the cheese was just a lump. I have other packets of MREs that I should open so I can blog them.


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