Tuesday, May 2

Pork Rib, Boneless, Imitation

Yesterday I went with my friend down to the Army-Navy supply store on 1st Avenue in Downtown Seattle to get some highly attractive plastic rubber pants to complete my 100% fully functional, Alaska-bound boating attire. Cute, I sure won't be. When those cheek-whipping squalls blow by, no one will be calling my number but goddamn it I'll be dry.

So while we are there outfitting the Amazon, I encountered something quite disturbing. I've heard of them. I've seen them. I've even tasted their yuppie-equivalent in the form of an REI chicken cacciatore. And from what I'm recently gathering, an MRE: Meal Ready (to) Eat is nothing short of the military version of the highly publicized "sous-vide" technique.

I may soon eat my words, but "sous-vide" AKA "boil-in-a-bag" has yet to strike my fancy...I've eaten some pork loin cooked "sous-vide" but it didn't seem to me to be very special or different. Not that I'm closed to the idea. So far, though, it hasn't moved me. But back to my story.

The MRE was adopted as the Department of Defense combat ration in 1975 when I was just a wee-thing, only a few years away from master-minding the "Snowball". I'm not sure why but there was something incredibly disturbing about coming face to face with the brown cardboard box that displayed the following 4 words: Pork Rib, Boneless, Imitation. I'm fairly certain it was the last word that was most unsettling.

It's like this: whatever your political leanings, I'm fairly certain you'd agree that our military deserves REAL food. What strikes me as absolutely BIZARRE about the concept of Pork Rib, Boneless, Imitation is this: why not just make an MRE of Pork Stew? Why attempt to MacGyver a boneless pork rib out of porky bits? There is actual pork in the ingredient list...so it's not a lie to call it Pork Something or other. It's as if someone decided "well, it's like this...everyone likes a good pork rib...so we'll just market it like that. But they can't have the rib in the little packages, so we'll make it boneless, but then we don't want to get expensive boneless pork ribs, so we'll just MacGyver a boneless pork rib out of porky bits...they'll love it and no one will ever know!" Until the U.S.D.A steps in and puts the word IMITATION just as big and prominent as Pork Rib, Boneless. It just kills me.

Shall I name the other ingredients? Let's first start with the byline: Caramel Color and Smoke Flavor Added

Ingredients: Imitation Boneless Pork Ribs (Pork, Water, Tomato Powder, Salt, Dextrose, Sugar, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Worcestershire Sauce Powder (sugar, sodium diacetate, salt, dextrose, corn syrup solids, spice, citric acid, caramel color, dehydrated garlic and onion, cellulose gum, malic acid, natural flavor (OHMIGOD, say it ain't so!), onion powder, soybean oil, smoke flavor, grill flavor (malto-dextrin flavor (from partially hydrogenated cottonseed and soybean oil), modified corn starch, corn syrup solids), flavorings.

I'm not entirely sure what half of the ingredients are but I think I see sugar in about 18 different forms. I'm most in- would awe be the right word?- of the "grill flavor". So they take trans-fats, corn starch and corn syrup and that tastes "like" the grill. It probably would have been cheaper and easier to just chuck a lump of gas-soaked charcoal in the MRE bag and it would probably taste just like most backyard American barbecues. But then the food scientists wouldn't get paid and cynically-minded, sustainable food nerds would have nothing to blog about.

The real reason I'm mentioning the MRE's? Deep down I'm wondering if anyone would notice if I stocked the boat with 630 of them. Forget the shopping list. My work here is done.


At 10:39 PM, Blogger OCD at Sea said...

I've just removed the pork stew you had suggested on the menu for day 13. I'm requesting a grilled chicken breast on that day please.


At 12:10 AM, Blogger othur-me said...

How about chicken breast with "grill flavor"?


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