It doesn't matter if
you're interested in who won the Ney award this year, or
you just need the recipe for Chipped Beef on Toast --
that's the "official" name for SOS -- so you
can feed your reenactment unit an authentic, time-honored
military breakfast, SeabeeCook.com is the place. If the
cooks and bakers served it, you'll find it here. (But
please, if you don't get your question answered, please write.)
we're all about
Six entrees fill the SeabeeCook menu.
They cover every aspect of military food service. Here's
Bakers -- They're the "unsung
heroes" of the services, according to May
Magazine article. These are the men and
women who'd turn out of the sack at
oh-dark-thirty to start breakfast for a hungry
crew. Many times, they turn out the lights and
lock the back door 'till well into the evening.
In today's terms, it's a 24-7 job.
-- Millions of service men and women have this
love-hate relationship with military cookery.
When stacked up against Mom, the cooks lost. But,
manuals like The Cook Book of the United
States Navy and The Manual for Army
Cooks taught thousands of cooks and bakers
the trade. Where do you think Burt Baskin of the
Baskin-Robbins team got his start? Just peruse
and you'll be amazed at the wealth of information
on menu planning, recipes and cooking.
-- Did you know Army mess halls still used its
coal-fired no. 5 range into the fifties? And the
Navy, known for having banks of coppers --that's
the Navy term for steam-jacketed kettles -- on
ships from sleek destroyers to powerful
battleships, outfitted a hundred small galleys in
England and France with oil-burning stoves? That
ubiquitous "US," once stamped on
everything from the no. 56 dipper to the 60-quart
stock pot, has gone the way of "value
engineering." That means more and more
commercial products like the new insulated food
-- No longer are terms like bully beef and canned
cow part of the serviceman's lexicon. Like
everything else in American life, they've gone
the way of the meat grinder and the rendering
pot. Except for operational rations like MREs,
tray packs and some stuff called "mobility
enhancing ration components," the general
messes (and the clubs as well) are supplied by
prime vendors. That means service men and women
get the same food that the big restaurant chains
use. It doesn't look like future
commanders-in-chief will have to issue a
presidential pardon for any item in the
military's larder. President Eisenhower's
absolution of Hormel for sending too much Spam
overseas may be the only time our nation's chief
executive exercised such powers.
-- How many out there remember pulling K.P. duty
in the company mess hall? Or mess cooking in the
galley? It's dirty work. But, as the old saying
goes, "Somebody's got to do it." These
are the guys and gals who made up for the cooks
carelessness -- the more pots and pans the cook
used, the longer they scraped burnt-on crud from
the sides of roasting pans and fished for silver
ware in a greasy sink with life-less suds. Now
the pendulum has swung to the side of the
environmentalists: The ocean is no longer the
dumping ground of the U.S. Navy. And everything
Army and Marine cooks throw into the ground is
filtered, re-filtered and filtered again.
Cooks -- Well, we're back to those
"unsung heroes again. After serving our
nation since the battle cry of Concord and
Lexington, today's cooks and bakers -- now given
titles like "food service specialist"
and "mess management specialist" -- are
out there "holding down the fort" on
two fronts: They are soldiers, sailors, airmen
and Marines first. Army and Marine cooks become
expert infantrymen. Navy and Coast Guard cooks
are first sailors. And Air Force cooks fall into
a unique occupational field called
"services" -- that translates into
running mortuary teams in combat. Feeding the
troops is, at times, their secondary mission.
you can help SeabeeCook.com
Log in often. Keep coming back. And drop
a note or two.
We'll be adding new articles each month.
But please remember that it'll take a few months for
SeabeeCook.com to proof into that golden brown loaf of
bread you remember so well. (Ever wondered why the baker
had so much company in the galley on the mid-watch?) We
have a wealth of material -- over 200 military cookbooks
and food service manuals adorn SeabeeCook's bookshelves
-- from which to draw articles. But we need more.
So that's where you come in. We can use
your help. If you're a former military cook or baker or
were part of the vast pool of critics the cooks had, we'd
love to hear what you have to say. We need your stories
and your pictures.
But maybe the most important contribution
you can make will come in the form of the memorabilia.
Pictures, menus, recipes and the like will make
SeabeeCook.com stand out among the hundreds of veteran's
web sites. We can make arrangements over coffee and email.
(Although, I prefer to scan materials myself, other
arrangements can be made.)
who is this SeabeeCook?
So you're wondering, "Just who is
this guy, anyway?"
Well, here's your answer:
As the moniker implies, I spent the
largest part of my naval career as a cook in the
P.S. -- In case you're wondering where
all these great photographs came from, they're Seabee
photographs, as you might guess. But as time moves on,
we'll be featuring more photographs and memorabilia from
all of the services.