Tuesday, June 15, 2004

From Fred--written 06/11/04 

There are 3 main dining facilities here at Camp Victory. The Engineer Dining Facility, which primarily serves the Engineer Brigade here; the Black Jack Dining Facility, which primarily serves soldiers assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division; and the Phantom Dining Facility, which serves soldiers assigned around the Palace (headquarters types) .

The Engineer and Blackjack Dining Facilities are new. They are big gymnasium-sized buildings. Inside, the floors are tile, the walls painted off-white, the ceilings are drop panels with many lights, and the tables are spread out--there is a light, airy feel to the place. Each has 2 main lines and 2 short-order lines. Both have adequate salad/pasta bars. There are big coolers for canned drinks and fruit juices. All in all, not a bad place to eat. Food is served by either third-country nationals or local Iraqis in blue pants, light blue or white shirts, bow ties, and some wear chef's hats.

The food itself is cafeteria style. It is not bad; it is not gourmet either. Generally, there are 4 main dishes--tonight we had turkey, beef and noodles, beef brisket, and chicken wings. There have been nights when we had surf and turf. Generally you get a couple of vegetables and a couple of starches.

The Phantom Dining Facility is an older building. It is not as pleasant because it is more crowded. It has the same food service plan and menu. Big thing that Phantom Dining Facility has going for it is the ice cream bar. You can get scooped ice cream and then put various toppings on . . . broken-up Oreo cookies, broken-up Reeses peanut butter cups, M&Ms, cherries, caramel, sprinkles. Add a piece of cake as a base, and you are in sugar overload. One of my captains has a special place in his heart for the ice cream bar--it is the kid in him, I suppose. He takes the ribbing in good spirits and dishes back when I eat just salads. I do this at lunch because it is too hot to eat anything else.

I generally have my cereal (Raisin Bran, Total, Cheerios, or Raisin Bran Crunch--I can't stand high-sugar cereals) for breakfast, but have added a bowl of fresh fruit--pineapple, watermelon, melon, cantaloupe, grapefruit, or oranges. The fruit varies from day to day. Left over fruit from breakfast is often seen again as lunch's fruit salad. Lunch is generally a plate of lettuce with some tomatoes and other toppings-- Annabelle would appreciate the "purple crunchies"--purple cabbage. I often add some potato salad for substance. Dinner is whatever is being served.

I have not had a bad meal yet, but some have been better than others.

We sometimes vary our routine by eating at a different facility each meal. Variety is the spice of life, and when you are otherwise eating dust and heat all day, it is the little things that make you laugh.

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