“Food, glorious food! Our favorite diet! Three banquets a day - I’m anxious to try it!” So goes the lyrics of one of the songs of the musical, “Oliver!” Well, lots of people have talked about Army chow before me, so I may as well, too.
I was amazed to find in Kyrgyzstan that I could order creamed beef on my scrambled eggs for breakfast, just like I did often at Ft. Riley. I had French toast and American cereal as well, just like back home. It was amazing to me, but then I’m on an Air Force base, so I shouldn’t have been so surprised.
Army chow has had a bad rap for awhile. Actually, the food I have experienced since being deployed has been pretty tasty, varied, and nutritious. At lunch and dinner, there is always a salad bar, and there is always some type of fresh fruit as well. For those who are on a diet, there is always something they can eat. I’ve been fortunate to never have had a weight problem, but eating three meals a day is something I didn’t do before, so I watch what I eat. Sometimes I skip a meal - there’s always plenty whenever I go to the chow hall, which is now called the DFAC, short for Dining Facility. (Don’t you love Army acronyms?)
It’s interesting to see common menu items with English and foreign writing on them. The milk is served in individual plastic bottles here, with both English and Arabic. Apparently, it is imported from the United Arab Emirates (I didn’t even know they had cows in Arabia).
American culture is ubiquitous - our styles, music and mannerisms are everywhere. The shops have both American music and music in the native language, which sounds quite American except for the language. We exert a tremendous influence all over the world, even in places most Americans aren’t aware exist, like Kyrgyzstan.
I’m not sure what Kyrgyk food is like, and I’m sure I won’t find out here on the Air Force airbase. But the DFAC is open 24 hours a day here, with free soda, coffee, desserts, and other items offered when meals are not, and longer meal hours than I’ve seen elsewhere. We certainly are not in danger of starving! Bon Appetit!
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The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and
Executive Director of CrossCurrents.
He is the author of God and Science (John Knox Press, 1986).
A revised and expanded version of the book is appearing here. God and Science (Hypertext Edition,
He is also editor of a new book, featuring articles by world class scientists and theologians, and illustrating the leading views on the relationship between science and religion: Faith, Science and the Future (CrossCurrents Press, 2007).
Charles also tracks the boundry between the virtual and the real at his blog: Next World Design, focusing on the mediation of art, science and spirituality in the metaverse.