USMC Chow: The Tale of Shit-On-A-Shingle

Fairy tales burn life lessons deeply into our psyche, from which we freely draw. I used the adventures of Goldilocks to conclude that military food isn't doing anyone a flavor. 

That little blond girl sneaked in those Bear's house, much like I did the Marine Corps. Just as she sampled the entire family's porridge hoping to find one that was just right, I cut my Baby Bear military chow teeth on the fine cuisine of Parris Island.

This food's too wretched. 

Next, I continued my culinary tour with stints at Officer's Candidate School, brilliantly split into two summers to sample more basic training fare. At Mama Bear Camp Geiger, I shoved my pride down and my plate away.

This food died for my country. 

Then finally, for the giant Papa Bear bowl -- I trudged on to the tables of Quantico, VA, full of high hopes and in better boots only to be shocked and awed at their ill attempt at good taste.

This food's just not right.

For an amuse bouche some tough doc cupped my balls and told me to cough.  
Each Marine Corps day starts with a rude awakening. Let's examine their idea of a nourishing breakfast -- basic, standard Government Issue: Shit on A Shingle. (more in my book, The Pink Marine.

Their recipe is (with my side of reality):

1 1/2 pounds lean hamburger or ground chuck
They use slow-running recruits, ground up and spit out by the system. 
2 tablespoons oleo or butter
Sure, drop that bomb. How bad can an almost-all vowel food be? 
1 chopped onion
Let me chop it, I need to hide my tears.
3 tablespoons flour
3? Are you G.I. joking? -- more like 300. We're feeding 1000.
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
You mean old abandoned garlic some chunky cook sat on.
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Don't ask; don't spell.
2 cups milk
The only cow I've seen on this base drove the bus that brought me here.
Salt and pepper to taste
Someone hand me my rifle.
Brown the meat; add butter and stir. You call that browning?! Drop and give me 20! We need the sweat for the salt…  Add onions and cook until you can see through them. We can see right through your little secret, recruit. Butch it up!  Add flour, stir and cook two or three minutes. As in for thirteen weeks. Add garlic, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.  Smear lipstick liberally on the pig. Mix thoroughly. Or take a shower with 70 naked guys. Add milk and stir until thickens. The plot sickens.  Serve over toast or biscuit. A snippet of a letter I wrote home when I was 18: 
     “They teach us everything to do with war. Eating, sleeping, and walking . . . By ‘eating,’ I mean I think the enemy is cooking for us.”

When in the right mood, drill instructors sang songs called Jodies while they marched us around. They’d sing a line and then we’d sing it back. Our voices had a deep, rich tone -- picture a Vienna Boy’s Choir with balls.  It was soul-warming. Here's it's only me, but imagine seventy voices and that's what camaraderie sounds like:

They'd tell us: Every meal's a holiday and every meals a feast. There's a time and a fork for everything. I came to defend my country, not to dine. If you can stomach the horror of breakfast, you're ready to face battle.

Military service can still be a fairy tale. See what I mean on One simply has to kiss, or eat, a lot of what might be frogs.

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