(Air Force Military Dining Facility)
So, my wife is working at the military dining facility at our local Air Force Installation, and had to work today. In order to have a family dinner, she suggested that we come to the facility for their Christmas offerings.
Remembering past meals at the "chow halls" from my military days, it was with great trepidation that I braved the record snow fall (9 straight days now/nearly 29 inches) for that family meal.
My sons and I arrived and entered the gaily decorated facility where we joined the shoulder to shoulder line and side stepped our way through the serving area. I selected the baked ham and prime roast and got my first surprise of the meal - the servers were actually generous and carved out a huge slice of each, covering more than 3/4 of the plate with meat, my second surprise was that the prime roast actually had color to it, rather than the uniform grey of well done that I was expecting.
Proceeding through the line I selected corn bread dressing, mashed potatoes with turkey gravy, baked sweet potato, and salad. Anticipating overly dried ham and stuffing I also got two huge glasses of soda to wash down the food.
My third surprise came after we sat in the dining area I cut into the ham - juices welled up from the depression of the knife, and it cut nearly like butter. Imagine, tender, juicy, baked ham in a military dining hall.
The turkey gravy was only slightly over salted, the mashed poatoes creamy and moist, the cornbread dressing was really very good - I could taste the herbs and turkey drippings that had been used to make it. The salad was excellent - cherry tomato, green leaf lettuce, sliced cucumber, bell pepper, all fresh, crisp/firm, and lightly sprinkled with crushed bacon (real bacon, not the fake). At the end of the meal The only thing I didn't finish was my soda.
All in all, while it most definitely was not fine dining, it was a pleasant and well prepared meal.
The experience was a good one and it also brought back the feeling of camaraderie that was shared among the troops (my god they look so young now), and one I would be willing to repeat.