It was blistering hot, humidity off the scale. No electricity. No AC. No phone. No interwebs. No hot water. It was a few days after Katrina, and the previous descriptions would be my life for a couple months back then.
The cuisine? MRE’s, (meals-ready-to-eat), courtesy of the United States Government, handed to me by prisoners from the local jail, out on work detail in the hellish climate, but happy, apparently, for the break in their routine.
The manufacturer of that generation of MRE’s was in Ohio; this time around, it’s a company called Sopackco, in South Carolina, which, according to their website, is part of the Unaka Corporation, a diversified holding company that makes, in addition to these types of meals, furniture, luggage, and more.
The “miracle” of MREs these days is that they come with a self-heating unit, which is flameless. The meals contain a full regiment of calories, and an entree, side, dessert. When my father’s generation dipped into their “K-rations” during WW2, packs also contained smokes and condoms. No such luck these days. They generally contained a hard biscuit, dry sausage, hard candy, gum, and a bullion or powdered drink packet.
Then, as now, they came in varieties to suit breakfast, lunch, or dinner. My favorite after Katrina was the ‘chili mac.’ Tho I admit, at times, tearing through other packets just to retrieve peanut butter and crackers, or tootsie rolls.
This is on my mind because my daughter (who also went through Katrina) still lives in New Orleans, and the National Guard was handing out MREs in her neighborhood today.
They won’t have to survive on them for weeks like we did; fortunately, a few hours after the delivery, their power went back on.
It’s not a bad idea to have a couple cases of these on hand in your home, for an emergency; under ideal conditions, they have a shelf life of up to five years.