June 21, 2013

The punishment

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Earlier this year I was hanging out with the Tiggers when I accidentally committed a "crime".  We were on our way to lunch and I was opening the passenger side door to Mrs. Tigger's Mercedez AMG C63 Black Series.  This being a two-door sports car, it's understandable that the doors are slightly elongated and therefore swing out farther when they open.  Well, I got a little distracted as I was deep in conversation while opening the door, and... managed to put the tiniest of dents in the door.  To be honest, given the car is white in color, you can't even notice the dent unless you got up real close and looked for it...

Tigger, of course, made a big deal out of this.  Posts with pictures went up on Facebook pages immediately, and Tigger went about soliciting ideas for a suitable "punishment".  Within 10 minutes, Tigger's old college roommate Vitz - living halfway around the world - came up with an idea out of the blue: make me eat MREs for a week.

Actually, I thought that was a fantastic idea.

For the uninitiated, "MRE" stands for "Meal, Ready-to-Eat".  They are basically field rations for the US military - something that you can consume in the battlefield while you are miles away from a kitchen.  They come in plastic pouches and include a main course, snacks and a drink.  Food contained inside the plastic pouch is heated by a chemical heater pack, where the pack reacts with water to give off heat that "cooks" the food in the pouch.

This stuff is designed to deliver lots of energy, as soldiers in the battlefield are meant to burn off a lot.  Each meal contains about 1,200 calories.  What I don't think they are designed to be is tasty, even though MREs have come a long way over the years, and there are now some 24 "menus" offering a good variety.  It's meant to be edible sustenance and not much more.  How "gourmet" can you get when it comes in plastic pouches, has a shelf life of 3 years, and among its prerequisites are the ability to withstand being air-dropped via parachute?

Tigger put in a call to Vitz immediately, and Vitz promised to get some MREs and ship them over.  Weeks passed and no MREs showed up at Tigger's door.  When I got tired of waiting, I decided to get in touch with my college roommate Eric who, coincidentally, works in the Supply Corps of the US Navy.  Eric very kindly promised to send some over, but these would be the "civilian" versions instead of what the US military gets, since it is illegal for military personnel to resell MREs - even though he would be giving them to me as a gift.  Apparently they come from the same supplier, and the difference is that civilian versions contain fewer snacks for in-between meals, resulting in about 400 less calories.

So I was pretty ecstatic when I found a box of MREs showing up at my door a couple of weeks ago.  I've scheduled a week of dinners to try one meal a day, starting next Monday.  I'll be snapping some pictures and posting my tasting notes here.

Meanwhile it was also suggested that I pair the MREs with wine.  Given the non-gourmet nature of the meals, I decided that it wouldn't make sense to pair them with Grand Crus from France or that sort of thing.  No, they would be more along the lines of Two Buck Chuck, although I didn't think I could find any here in Hong Kong.  I went to my local supermarket and found 7 different wines to go with my 7 meals - all costing USD 10 or less a bottle.  Needless to say, this ain't my usual stuff...

So let's see how this turns out...


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