There are 47 countries with troops currently stationed in Afghanistan, and that means 47 different pouch-sized meals "intended not just to nourish but also to remind the soldier of home". Here are a few of the yummiest:
South Korea's rations look pretty tasty, including sauteed kimchi, ham fried rice, flavoured sausage, white beans and sauce, almond cake and chocolate lollies.
But I think Australia's take the cake, even if their rations go for quantity over quality:
Barbecue beef, chicken Italiano, tuna over dried tomato and basil, creamy chicken soup, two fruits diced in syrup, Australian cheddar cheese, raspberry fruit grains, candy chocolates, fruit bar, apricot coconut bar, tropical fruit bar, chocolate bar, tropical beverage powder, chocolate drink powder, sweet biscuit, cream biscuit, Vegemite, musk flavor candy, plum fruit spread, tea bags, sweetened condensed milk, sugar, instant coffee, ketchup, salt, pepper, chewing gum, scouring sponge, matches.
The New York Times has a neat interactive feature that lets you look inside the combat rations of 15 different nations. Some offer coveted candies, just like the one's you'd find in a store at home:
Among the soldiers I have known, the peanut M&Ms are the hands down favourite item (it used to be Skittles), and they're currency. Want to swap out your shift pulling guard duty? A packet might well buy you the favour.
Other items are crude approximations of their peaceful equivalents:
"Combat espresso," on the other hand, is brutal. The creamer, instant coffee and sugar are poured directly into one's mouth and then washed down with water.
Yuck. Thankfully there's all that adrenaline to keep them awake. [NYT]