Remember back before the New Navy had ‘Quality of Life’ mandates and we simply had to accept what the ol’ Canoe Club was quite literally feeding us?!? Remember sitt’n in the messdecks gnawing on stuff resembling ol’ Goodyear tires and hobo boot soles with mystery meat A’ la carte?!? Remember standing in them outstretched lines faithfully gathered up for some boiled over cholesterol pick-me-up so we could knee & elbow our way into one of the hardest gauddamned seats the CNO could find to park our butts in?!? No, we didn’t have any Five Star Ney Award menu with all the gourmet trimmings!!!
I was reading what an ol’ shipmate wrote about the news the other day concerning them kids spending the night at school during the winter storm, and how his family was wondering what they would eat! He was right about one thing he said… how your mind flashes back to those nights of eating Midrats… and then I started thinking of the similarities between school food & Navy Chow!!
On my first ship… the ol’ Baglady, nobody recognized what we were eating half the time! We ate stuff that could burn your nose hairs, make you cry and drive you blind!! The best part of the menu was usually the cold cuts we got for battle rations… PB&J… or canned Spam… you can’t screw up a good spam… or can you?!? You know what they say about the brewed & stewed in the ol’ Canoe Club… ‘Never trust a skinny cook’… there’d be some sons-a-bitches who couldn’t boil water!!!
Nobody ever accused us of having good table manners or engaging in polite conversation over a latte and some tomato bisque! But that didn’t mean we were any less deserving of batter fried pier rat, buffalo testicles & discarded band-aides from the local leper colony!! I always figured that rainbow sheen on the roast beast was contaminated bovine butchered by yours truly somewhere near Three Mile Island… or maybe ‘cause the meat was so tough it was marinated in Reactor Coolant from the Mighty ‘E’ or one of them there other float’n nuclear vessels!!! There was nothing like rump roast fillet of road kill to make your breath the best a man could get underway!!!
But as the years went by the food got better! When I was on the Bird Farm, ‘Chucky ‘V’… we had what we called a speed line!! Saved our asses on a few occasions on account our Chief didn’t get us permission for early chow! The forward speed line was almost always a taco bar!! I first saw a bowl of Old El Paso refried beans in that taco bar... all my life I hadn’t eaten refried beans cause my stepdaddy, ‘Charlie Brown’ told me them beans were made of purified baby shit!! At seven years old I believed him… with a name like Charlie Brown you’d believe most of his bullshit too… hell, he named his kids after the Peanut Gallery!! I’d say he was definitely one taco away from a combo plate!!!
But as I see it… as long as you got your four-squares and a rack to sleep in with fresh running water on occasion… we bitched a lot, but we were some happy go lucky sons-a-bitches!!!
Although I gotta say… that fourth meal… the Midrats… the red headed stepchild of the galley four squares… that quasi-meal between supper and breakfast… served underway just as the name implies… right around midnight! When you’re working haze grey and underway and it’s a twenty-four hour operation… and you gotta have some fuel to keep you going all that time!!
“Man… Horse Cock again?”
“Oh… I’m sorry! You butthurt? How about I give you a cock meat sandwich instead?!?”
“Wow… do I look like I’m on a diet?!?”
Yeah, I’ve scarfed down my fair share of Midrats…
Them Stew Burners could bake up some nicely fresh bread that went well with a bit of Skippy Peanut Butter! Then there was the Horsecock or ‘Fillet of Mule Tool’ bologna… Midnight Ravioli or ‘Pillows of Death’… Fried Chicken Patties or Wagon Wheels… Beans & Weenies or rabbit turds & baby dicks… fried rice or Flied Lice as the Filipino Cooks would call it… and the infamous ‘SOS’… Shit-on-a-Shingle with slightly burned toast that made it just right!!!
Then there were the condiments! We used to call the mayo the self healing cum jar.... why you ask?!? The top of the mayo would semi harden like a scab and the stuff underneath would still be edible but you’d need a gauddamned box cutter to get through that self sealant vulcanized rubber ... the rest you can figure out for yourselves!! And some of them leftover scraps of odds & ends were so gauddamned bland and tasteless we had to smother the sons-a-bitches in Texas Pete or Tabasco sauce just to make’m seem worth the while!! You can’t get underway without Texas Pete & Tabasco sauce… don’t even try it!!!
Yep, and if you were lucky… the cook would make up a special dish of hot cookies or cinnamon buns! Hopefully you didn’t have to perform any abnormal sex acts or had any of them Skinny Cooks on the night watch… in which case you might end up with something that looked like Rhino testicles and smelled like a Karachi Sewer Ditch!!
And there were always the snipes… especially the A-gangers… whose unnatural & heinous acts of debauchery always did the trick to the namby-pamby types! Rather shooting milk out the nose… flossing the sinus cavity with some hardy spaghetti… or the one I’ll never forget… when one of them A-gangers was crank’n and tactically placed an unused condom into a vat of vanilla pudding!! He pushed it down just far enough… just far enough it couldn't be seen. A few scoops into chow… and ‘Presto’!! That son-of-a-bitch caused quite a stir… proof that revolution can go in reverse!!!
But I learned as a young Crackerjack to never piss off the cook… I knew fellas who worked at fast food joints! One fella would wipe his sweaty ass on a tortilla at taco bell if anyone dared to complain about his preparations!! You get one of them self-entitled sons-a-bitches who liked to piss on the petunias…
“When’s the midrats gonna be ready?”
“Just hold your horses and have a cup of coffee, it’ s already been saucered and blowed!”
“You kidd’n me?!? That stuff you call coffee would eat the varnish off the Captain’s Gig!”
“Oh, I get it… like humor, but different!”
Makes you wonder how the other half survived… you know, the ones in the Weirdroom!! Always piss’n up a rope with the Stew Burners & the Wardroom Cranks…
“Would you like tea with your crumpets Sir?”
“Ahhh, the screw-up fairy has returned again! Make sure it’s two cubes of sugar, not three!!! And don’t forget to shine my silver-ware… piss boy(murmured)!!!”
Yeah, ragging the Stew Burners was expressly reserved for the enlisted crew! If you were an Officer (maybe a mustang could get away with it)… you had no business putt’n your foot in your mouth, tap dancing through the minefield of derogatory comments & insults to multi task’n ‘Crackerjacks’ like it was feeding time at the local zoo!! Otherwise you might find yourself runn’n from a lynch mob carrying torches & pitch forks, leading vicious hunt’n hounds while being led by some sorry son-of-a-bitch with a Carmen Miranda fruit basket on his head!!!
Then somewhere along the line… the food got better! When I reported onboard Rainier, Lucky N°.7, I found it a luxury to a level I had never known! Before it was all about cutt’n the fuzzy off the cheese & bologna… using a box knife and a chipp’n hammer to remove all the damned mold colonies!! Somehow we had assembled the finest group of Culinary Artists the Navy had to offer… of course being aboard a supply ship might have amounted to something I suppose!!!