Ah, the 4th of July. Back in the States everyone can celebrate with BBQ, fireworks and cold tasty beer.
We decorated our meager mess hall with a few patriotic plastic tablecloths and set up our own BBQ. If Bobby Flay could see it, his head would explode. Our lone cook started grilling chicken, steak…things and hot dogs early in the morning. The smell of carcinogens and evaporated beef fat teased me throughout the day.
In an effort to increase rapport with the Iraqi Army, we invited some of the senior officers over for dinner. It’s very rare that we ever get the Iraqis over to eat. They won’t eat food prepared by the Hindu Indian chefs at the larger mess halls (they’re an impure people according to the Koran) and out at the more austere patrol bases, the food is just terrible.
At my lovely patrol base, we rarely cook anything. Everything is pre-cooked in the States, vacuum sealed and shipped over to Iraq. Then we reheat and enjoy. TV dinners for dozens of people, Yum-o!
Iraqi fare is pretty fresh. Sometimes the goat is still alive when we show up for dinner. But, Iraqi food looks like road kill.
I’ve been eating Iraqi food for the entire deployment, so I’m pretty much immune to whatever evil spirits lurk in the kabobs and eggplant wraps. I took two of my soldiers to eat with our Iraqi counterparts, and they weren’t so lucky. They spent the next three days sweating to death, and puking all over the place. Me? Just fine. They’re a little gun shy about eating anything that has an expiration date before 2015.
So, what does inviting the Iraqis over for dinner mean for me? Sweet revenge! Now the Iraqis can ponder and smile politely as they eat our reheated-beef-substance. Ha ha! Keep me in Iraqi for 15 months will you? Enjoy some of that rubber chicken with BBQ sauce from the lowest bidder! The best part of any American meal is that we don’t need antibiotics as the dessert course.
The Iraqis were terrified by our 4th of July feast. They gently poked at the steak and picked at the chicken. They didn’t know what the corn on the cob was. Maybe if I said it was goat penis they would have tried it.
I tried to fool myself into having a good time with a near-beer. Beer with no alcohol, who came up with this idea? No one drinks beer for the taste! I told the Iraqis about the 4th of July in the States, why we celebrate, etc. The Iraqis had a period of English occupation that ended in the 1920s, so they could empathize a little bit.
No fireworks! Random explosions around people with guns is never a good idea. Iraq has forever ruined fireworks for me. The Iraqis celebrate by firing off the family AK-47 in the back yard, that may catch on in the States after recent Supreme Court rulings.