The next Thomas Keller may have a military rank

Upside-down peach pie

On this U.S. Memorial Day, we wanted to honor all servicemen and women - regardless of nationality.  And this article from Parade Magazine hits the spot. Titled "How Do You Feed an Army?," the answer is apparently very well - indeed, army food has come a very long way since relying on Spam and MREs (combat field rations, short for "Meals Ready to Eat.")

The article describes an "Armed Forces Chef of the Year" contest, which is conducted in a very similar fashion to Food TV's Chopped (four timed courses, unknown ingredients). So why has cooking become so important to the military? Acccording to the article:

"...until the early 20th century, the U.S. military didn't train cooks at all. Cooks were recruited, or whichever soldier had the inclination (or the orders) to warm up the beans just did it. But by the time World War I rolled around, military officials had begun to realize they needed a system-trained cooks, after all, are schooled in food safety. "In the early days, food poisoning was common," says Sgt. Maj. Mark Warren, winner of the 1994 Armed Forces Chef of the Year and now a judge in the competition. "You can take a casualty in the chow hall or on the battlefield. It affects readiness and morale if you lose a soldier to food-borne illness." And, he adds, there's that other reason military cooks take their jobs to heart: "The last meal a soldier gets could be his last meal."

And to get an idea of how things have changed, the winner, Senior Chief Petty Officer Derrick Davenport, made the following items: "It's 11:30 a.m., and Derrick Davenport has been cooking for almost four hours. He's made flounder and scallops with quinoa and arugula salad. Whipped up sweet potato soup with squab. Roasted lamb loin and served it in mushroom sauce with butternut squash puree and Edam cheese fritters. Baked mini chocolate-buttermilk cakes, doused them in Chambord and ganache, and topped them with milk chocolate cream. Now, after piping on some meringue and toasting it with a kitchen torch, he ferries the dessert into the dining room, where three stone-faced judges wait. Davenport carefully sets a cake in front of each one, the last course he's presented this morning."

So whether you're sitting down to roasted lamb loin, burgers, or camping today (and eating an MRE), please join us in remembering our fallen warriors, maybe by baking this Upside-Down Peach Pie, which is one of Davenport's favorite recipes. And have a wonderful Memorial Day.

Photograph by Tina Rupp, Parade Magazine


Post a comment

You may only comment on the blog if you are signed in. Sign In

Seen anything interesting? Let us know & we'll share it!