Thursday, November 15, 2018

The MRE Aficionado - Lessons From a Ration Eating Guru

I found myself poking around YouTube for information about MRE's for practical reasons. I imagined it would be a source of inspiration for trail and travel meals. I was curious how large organizations (read: the militaries of various countries) choose to feed large groups of people under a variety of scenarios, many quite hostile. And of course there's a historic angle to this. By understanding what soldiers of a particular time ate, you get a unique appreciation for life during that time period.

I found all of this info and more on Steve1989's YouTube channel. Steve's jam is 'ration tasting.' He picks a particular MRE, unboxes it and analyzes it with the same care and zeal that a tech reviewer would reserve for the latest model iPhone. He single handily elevates eating pre-packaged meals to an art form.

As I'd hoped, a dive into MRE-land has given me fresh perspective on food and on the go meals. To some degree, the exercises has demystified MREs. Many MREs are little more than classic backpacking-style dehydrated food with olive-drab packaged extras. A trip to the food section at REI and a stroll through the grocery store would let you create most of what's in these packets. But there definitely innovate meals out there. I've found a number of 'survival' rations to be especially interesting. For example, the RAF Emergency Flying Ration and French Armed Forces Emergency Food Ration show densely packed nutrition in a minimal footprint.

Steve's historic examples are also impressive. His dedication shows in his review of a Boer War ration from 1899 where he attempts to eat some of the contents. Steve's got to have a stomach of steel.

Mostly I got a refresher in what a joy it is to watch people pursue hobbies they love. Who would have thought that MRE tasting was a thing? It is, and when done with the kind of discipline that Steve brings to the game, it's really impressive. So no matter how obscure your side hustle is, go for it!

Ultimately, Steve savors a 2016, Hungarian 24 Hour Combat Ration the same way a wine aficionado savors a 2016, Irsai Olivér vintage. His perfectly narrated trips through these meals are simply a delight. I find myself enjoying his soothing voice and upbeat attitude. Here are some classic vids, enjoy!

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