It is interesting to be in Iraq now, to say the least. The soldiers are almost totally gone and the State Dept has taken over. The Army treats US citizen contractors pretty poorly, but we are really second class citizens under State. I love my tax dollars paying elitist government employee salaries. That is all I am going to say on the matter, with the exception of the 2-pound mail limit for US citizens who are not direct State Dept (federal) employees. They get 70 pounds. At least the Army didn’t discriminate against citizen civilian contractors when it came to the quality of life essential, mail.

Since you really can’t mail anything that is 2-pounds or under, there is no way to get food mailed in. Couple that with the worst mess hall I’ve ever seen and my weight loss program is set to ensure record breaking success. I can’t even order a new set of boots that I really need.

Now, the mess hall was previously run under the Army here, by KBR-UK. It was not a good mess hall, Afghanistan mess halls (run by Fluor) were all better. BUT, that KBR-UK mess hall suddenly looks like a five-star (on a four-point scale) restaurant. The State Department selected KBR-USA to run their mess hall. It is now Day 4 of KBR-USA food and it is simply the worst mess hall food I’ve ever had, I mean ever. The previous worst mess hall was one at Sand Hill on Ft Benning when I got deployed in 2004. The other worst mess halls were in Iraq in 2004-2005 that were then run by, you guessed it, KBR-USA. The last six months I was in Iraq before, I got to where I hardly ever went to the mess hall. There was no Iraqi restaurant there.

In Afghanistan, there was an excellent restaurant (see my review http://cookingwithlittlebuddy.com/?p=1380) at FOB Ghazni. In Balad, Iraq, in 2004 and 2005, there was a Pizza Hut, Burger King and Subway. The only one of those I ever ate at was the Subway. I don’t eat at Pizza Hut or Burger King, and rarely Subway, at home. Their counterparts in Iraq were all far worse than home and they are bad at home.

Anyway, KBR-USA is back in charge of mess halls in Iraq (gotta love low bidder contracts) and the one here makes those 2004-2005 mess halls look great. There is virtually nothing edible at the one where I am and you see the same stuff every day. How about some greasy, ultra low quality chicken wings for your next meal? Or that lovely canned corn? How about the formed “jaeger schnitzel” substance? I can’t even eat what salad they have anymore, you can only eat iceberg lettuce with cucumbers and a limited choice of dressings for so long before your body goes into rejection. I have started looking for MREs. You know the food is bad when you would rather have an MRE. At least, I can hope I get one with the crackers and peanut butter.

Gotta love than 2-pound mail limit…


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