IRAQ: Food for life

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The food at dining facilities at the larger military bases in Iraq tastes pretty much the same from camp to camp, like restaurants from the same franchise.

But the quality at lesser outposts, where preparation is done by troops rather than the Halliburton offshoot KBR, can vary widely. Which explains why food preparation specialists such as Marine Gunnery Sgt. Benny Fontenot at the Haditha Dam become minor celebrities among their customers.

Troops debate which of Fontenot’s meals was the best: the Thanksgiving, Christmas, or the Marine Corps 232nd birthday (Nov. 10) spreads. That’s somewhat unfair since at the birthday meal, beer was served along with turkey, ham and prime rib.

Some votes might go for his barbecue lamb for the South African guards, the goat and lamb dishes for the Iraqis, and the special meal for the Azerbaijani troops at the dam. They like fresh vegetables and fruit.


Near the spot on the 7th story landing where troops line up cafeteria-style for their meals is a sign: ‘Best Dam Chow Hall in Iraq.’

— Tony Perry at Haditha Dam, Iraq