How to pack energy, nutrition and comfort into small, portable containers for soldiers far from home is the challenge faced by military meal planners around the world.
An eye-opening slideshow in the New York Times gives a glimpse of what "home" tastes like in fourteen different countries.
Photojournalist Ashley Gilbertson snapped a series of detailed (and oddly beautiful) photos of the packaged meals fed to international troops stationed in Afghanistan. It comes as no shock that France feeds its troops well, with rations that include cassoulet, venison pâté and caramels. South Korea packs a serving of kimchi, of course, and the United States adds pork ribs and barbecue sauce to its M.R.E.’s (Meals Ready to Eat).
But there are also surprises, like the three tiny toothbrushes Italy gives out every day to its soldiers, or the small bottle of Tabasco sauce Great Britain includes in its rations.
Meat stews are prominent, from Polish beef goulash to British lamb curry, and caffeine in some form is nearly universal, which makes sense. Hot coffee and a simple stew is exactly what we would want if we were seeking a little comfort far from home.
What do you think? If you had to pack up a taste of home, what would you include?
Related: Less Meat, More Flavor: Salt Pork
(Image: National Library of Scotland)