Brilliantly Funny Review Of Chow In Kabul Military Dining By Andew Sand, Wrtiting For The NYT.

by Daniel Russ on August 9, 2012


 

June 14, 2012, 12:57 pm

 

I’ve risked my life in Afghanistan for a plate of French cheese. While not as arduous as serving in rural Afghanistan, the prison like conditions on Kabul bases — no family, long hours, repetitive food and confined spaces — often drive service members to extremes to escape the pressure and keep up their spirits.

 

Consider the “Kabul DFAC Tour.” Inspired by the food tours back home, some service members use official business to sample different military dining facilities around the city. And if there is extra room in the convoy, they bring along their friends for additional security and dining company.

 

In one instance, during a mid-April trip, Taliban attacks stranded a coalition team overnight at a French base, Camp Warehouse. Within a week of safely returning home, the same team ventured back to Camp Warehouse. Even the Taliban could not keep them from their mission, and a good meal.

 

In this way, regardless of where you are based, you can try the best and worst DFACs, or dining facilities, in Kabul. Here’s how they break down — with my own little rating system. Bon appétit!

 

Camp Warehouse DFAC

 

Rating: 4 Exploding Stars

The cheese plate at Camp Warehouse.

Andrew Sand The cheese plate at Camp Warehouse.

 

The premier military dining facility in Kabul. Dashing Frenchmen sport oversize berets. A 30-foot replica of the Eiffel Tower looms over plates of creamy Camembert and smoky Gouda. French chefs serve up authentic French fries, crisp and hot. And fresh sole with a lemon cream sauce in a landlocked country — how did they do that? At this quaint French base, meals end sweetly, with rare deployment joy found in the delicate bûche de Noël. All in all, an exquisite dining experience that brings a bit of Paris to Kabul.

 


Camp Souter DFAC

 

Rating: 4 Exploding Stars

The Camp Souter DFAC proves that not all British food is bad. Notable for its wide selection, each meal features a tip-top spread fit for the queen – fluffy omelets, rich curries, seasoned roasts, roasted potatoes and sinful chocolate tarts. After dining, step next door to the cafe and catch a lively Premier League match with some boisterous British lads. Just don’t call it soccer. Over all, a brilliant establishment.

 


ISAF Headquarters DFAC

Rating: 3 Exploding Stars

A typical dinner at the International Security Assistance Force headquarters in Kabul.

Andrew Sand

A typical dinner at the International Security Assistance Force headquarters in Kabul.

 

Planning military strategy? Drafting government policy? Or just want to be close to important people? Then visit the Supreme ISAF Headquarters Dining Facility, the “Power DFAC” of Kabul. Spacious and luxuriously decorated with imitation stained-glass panels and ceramic tiling, this DFAC serves as the ideal setting for conducting official business. Visitors can view a who’s who of coalition decision makers while feasting on grilled salmon, freshly cooked pasta, flavorful soups and delectable puddings. Afterward, settle your meal with a strong cup of gourmet coffee. It will leave you with the taste of victory.

 


Camp Phoenix DFAC

 

Rating: 3 Exploding Stars

Head on down to Camp Phoenix for its renowned barbecue tent! The smoky aroma of freshly grilled burgers, steaks and hot dogs will take you back to the lazy days of summer break. Flexible outdoor/indoor seating options allow visitors to soak up rays on clear Afghan days or to take cover in the event of indirect fire. If possible, make a special trip for Ribs Day. Straight out of the comfort of a Southern kitchen, the tender, fall-off-the-bone meat will have you loosening your belt and lickin’ your fingers the entire convoy ride home.

 

 


Camp Eggers DFAC

 

Rating: 2 Exploding Stars

Camp Eggers dinner plate.

 

Andrew SandCamp Eggers dinner plate.

 

Camp Eggers has two dining facilities — Goat and Marshall, for double the capacity and double the mediocrity. Fake Tex-Mex, fake roast beef, fake turkey and fake burgers. Even the real steak tastes fake. Given the selection, most meals ultimately degrade into some combination of cereal, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and saltine crackers. Slightly better than eating field rations in the mountains while evading insurgents, but not by much.

 


Camp Julien DFAC

Rating: 1 Exploding Stars

 

“The food at Camp Julien was revolting and unhealthy…. I’d rather eat shell casings….”
– Anonymous U.S. Special Operations service member

 


Lt. Andrew Sand of the Navy is currently deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan, where he helps train the Afghan National Army. 

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ted Allen August 7, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Hey Folks:

Great culinary reviews except you missed one, Camp Arena in Herat. Not that the food there is good or even fair, it is not! The DFAC food @ Camp Arena is GARBAGE; that’s GARBAGE with a capital VOMIT! Droves of people stuck there would rather spend their hard earned dollars @ one of the fast food eateries than to eat the shit @ Arena. When I first got there it was just @ evening chow time. I was starving after a long day of travel from Kabul and getting settled in. When I went through the DFAC there, I could not believe what was served: fish that smelled like it was re-heated two times, some kind of runny sauce on yellow pasta, and other food that I could not identify. One of the men that had shown me the way to the DFAC said he loved the Arena DFAC. I looked @ him incredulously and asked why? He said because he could drink wine with his dinner. It then dawned on me why he liked the DFAC. It was because he was so drunk he couldn’t taste (or smell) the shit that was passed off as food! Bon Appetit!

S. A. Hunt September 3, 2013 at 10:25 pm

Ted Allen ain’t lying. I lost 40 lbs in three months eating Spanish DFAC food. Hog faces, hog legs, green whole shrimp paella, house cats roasted like game hens. Check this shit out, LT:

http://drdrewinafghanistan.blogspot.com/2010/06/pigging-out-when-i-stopped-in-kuwait-on.html

If you don’t believe me on the house cats, they’re running around all over the place and the turnover rate is WAY too high.

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