23 August 2010

Red Bull on a Stick

"You know, Camp Shelby is an awful lot like the Iowa State Fair," says one Red Bull soldier. Back home, the Iowa State Fair is going on, and we're talking over a lunch of greasy food here in Mississippi. "We've got the food trailers, the stifling heat coming off the pavement, and," he sniffs at himself, "we certainly have the smell of livestock about us."

"Yeah," says Saber2th, "and we've got the 'freak show' thing down, too."

You want Midway rides? There's even a vehicle-rollover simulator that spins you around.

It's another 100-plus-degree-heat-index day, and the Mississippi sun feels hot enough to strip paint off a barn. We're hanging out under the tin roof the "tactical food court," where a collection of food-vendor trailers sits in a gravel parking lot alongside a 100-foot-long temporary picnic shelter. You can take the Red Bull out of Iowa, but not the Iowa out or the Red Bull.

"We could really use some of those cattle-misters they use at the fair," says Hamster, referring to a piece of farm equipment that sprays a fine mist of water. Agricultural-equipment vendors sell them at the state fair, and they're also used to cool crowds of people. "If we had one of those, we could make a fortune here."

Many troops seem to avoid eating the "Meals Read to Eat" (M.R.E.) rations that are provided them for lunchtime chow, in favor of eating at their own expenses. There's a trailer that sells Domino's Pizza--"delivered to you in 30 minutes or more," quips one soldier. "Lucky for me, food can never get cold here," says another. "The whole state of Mississippi is one big heat lamp."

Another vendor sells burritos. There's a trailer that offers catfish (the Army should really come up with a "dehydrated fried-catfish patty MRE," says one soldier), and another barbecue sandwiches and pork fritters.

In Iowa, we'd call a fritter a "pork tenderloin."

In the spirit of Iowa State Fair experimental food-fads (aka "foods that should probably be eaten only on a dare"), that last place also sells what they call "horseshoes" and "ponyshoes." Here's how a menu sign describes a horseshoe: "Take a hamburger, chicken or pork fritter. Put it on Texas Toast, put fries on top and smother it with a rich white delicious cheese sauce."

And the "ponyshoe"? That's the same thing, but half the size. You know, in case you're watching your diet.

There's a rumor that some congressman from Iowa is going to bring down some Iowa sweet corn down to Camp Shelby sometime before the unit moves out to the California desert. If the troops are lucky, maybe some Iowa pork producers or cattlemen's association will jump on that wagon, too, and throw some corn-fed protein on that menu, too.

At the very least, maybe somebody could FedEx the troops a bunch of freeze-dried corn dogs--because nothing says "home" to a Red Bull like meat on a stick.


  1. You mean, "deep fried meat on a stick," right? Enjoy the cuisine!

  2. I have to tell ya, Sherpa, that running around in my cargo shorts and T-shirts in this weather and still sweating like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, I have found new(er) respect for all the stuff you guys have to wear. Maybe some day some dude or duddett will invent a combat uniform with lightweight air-conditioning in it. Till then, sweat on…


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