Upcoming revisions to military recipe books could bring new ethnic fare to U.S. troops.
In their May 30-31 quarterly meeting, members of the Joint Recipe Committee heard from Navy personnel eager to add new international flavors to the menu. Those suggestions could be incorporated into an ongoing overhaul of the services’ dietary options.
“They see Asian, they see Filipino, they see Mexican. But where are the Puerto Rican-themed foods? Where is the hummus?” said Jennifer Person-Whippo, Naval Supply Systems Command’s registered dietician.
The recipe committee operates under the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency’s Troop Support branch, which manages menu choices for all the services. This meeting focused on the Navy, whose 7,300 culinary specialists deliver on average of more than 92.5 million meals per year.
A single recipe book now serves all the components with some 2,230 recipes. As the committee reviews this compendium, it is looking for ways to balance nutrition, taste and the broad range of circumstances that dictate culinary preparation among the different services.
An aircraft carrier may need more heat-and-serve foods, for instance, because supply deliveries may be infrequent, whereas an Army unit may be better able to cook from scratch.
“There is a common theme in the profiles of the flavors, but we’re trying to mix up the preparation methods,” Person-Whippo said.
One example of that flexibility comes in the form of a new “baking with less” recipe. This single dough base can be turned into muffins, cakes, breads and other baked goods.
“Think of the storage constraints, especially on the submarines. You only have so much space and they often don’t get restocked, so they need to be able to use the ingredients they have in many different recipes,” Person-Whippo said.
In addition to ethnic foods and versatility, the committee wants to bolster the nutritional content of a menu catalog that dates back to the 1960s. “There is a real emphasis on trying to please the crew, while also putting in some healthier ingredients,” she said.
Committee members met in Norfolk, Va., at the Naval Supply Systems Command. While there, they spent time with crews from the USS George Herbert Walker Bush, USS Carr, USS Kearsarge, the submarine USS Scranton and the Naval Station Norfolk ashore galley.
Person-Whippo said it was important for committee members to see firsthand the circumstances under which their recipes would put into use.
“They needed to meet and greet the fleet,” she said. “They needed to see that a galley is more like a closet in someone’s house, rather than this football-sized area they have to prepare recipes in.”
The committee’s recommendations eventually will go to the Armed Forces Recipe Service testing site in Natick, Mass., to be considered for inclusion in the overall recipe book.