• Michelle Partington

Come dine with me…..or not!

So last night I was handed a pack of mini cheddars but I could not face opening the packet. I used to absolutely love them and I would eat them by the 6 pack!!! Well, maybe not that much but you get my point.

Unfortunately the smell, texture and taste of them now just makes me want to vomit! What could possibly have turned my nose from such a ‘delicacy’?

Sitting on the flight line on our 24 hour shift we used to be able to go to the mess during meal times. Unfortunately my pallet has never been the most adventurous and I have always liked the basic good old fashioned, non fussy home cooked food. On deployment it was difficult for me to find and enjoy a decent meal. When we visited the mess my mouth would water at the sight of food I could actually eat. The next challenge would be getting through a full meal before the radio went off which happened all too frequently. On my standby days I would rely on bagels with philadelphia to get me through the day!!

At some point during our tour it was decided that we would receive a packed lunch instead of going to lunch. Unfortunately there was very little or mostly no choice as to what the sandwiches would be. I know the other guys on the team can empathise with this! Sadly most days it was tuna and I don’t eat fish or any seafood at all. Included in the packed lunch was a packet of mini cheddars….see where I’m going with this? I virtually lived off them on tour and now I just cannot face them without wanting to gag. One saving grace was when we had the opportunity to go to ‘secret scran’ which was the american food hall which was always amazing!

Whilst I was out on the ground for a few days at a time we lived on military ration packs. Again due to my ‘underdeveloped’ taste buds I could not face some of the meals. It didn’t help that it was the same thing day in day out which you pretty much got fed up of. Out on the ground I lived off tomato soup poured into the pack of rice! I was fortunate to have some very good friends, especially Lozzie who sent me the most amazing parcels packed with goodies including tracker bars and jammie dodgers. They got me through my trips ‘out and about’. Even when the new improved ration packs started to be issued it was not much better for me. Everyone loved the new choice of menu but for me it included some of the worst things: salmon, tuna and mushrooms. What I did like however was the pack of fruit salad. No wonder I lost lots of weight on tour!

The only other problem on tour apart from the food was the bottled water. Drinking a glass or a bottle of water for me now will always be a last resort. Imagine a time when you were sooo very thirsty to the point where your mouth became so very dry and your tongue was sticking to the roof of your mouth. That’s what it felt like most days in Afghan. Sometimes you would manage to pick up a nicely chilled bottle of water but sadly most of the time, especially after a few hours out on the ground the water was luke warm. Even the water in the camelback could not stay cool. I would gag sometimes when I had to drink warm water but I had no choice as this was the only thing available to drink.

Now considering other posts written on my blog, you may say that this is a minor concern. However, it all matters when your away and having to keep your physical and mental health in the zone. Food keeps you full of the energy you need to get through shifts and without decent food and fluid you could go downhill very quickly. I struggled virtually every day to source a decent meal and went to bed hungry most days. A minor stressor but added to the problems during the tour they can soon take you over the edge.


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