Thursday, September 4, 2008

Some Food...Sort of...

Blogging buddy Ello wanted to see food pictures...even Army food. So, here are a couple food shots for her and anyone else with iron constitutions. Actually, my favorite is the local food which I get not often enough. The "mess hall" food shown below is prepared by KBR (formerly known as Kellogg-Brown and Root). The mess hall where we eat is a small remote facility, but puts out quite a variety at each meal. The mess hall serves Americans, Italians, Turks, Afghans, French and Brits, so the variety is better than most other military facilities in Kabul.

Breakfast is usually only varied by type of fruit and an occassional toasty bit. If they have breakfast pork chops then I don't do the biscuit and gravy bit. I usually have salad or fresh broccoli when they have it with my lunch and I almost never eat dinner.

Biscuits and vomit gray, topped with over-easy local eggs,
fresh kiwi and strawberries and breakfast steak with onions.
I usally top off the eggs and steak with ample hot sauce,
though not because they taste bad.
With lots of spicy stuff coursing through my veins,
flies and mosquitos tend to leave me alone.
Breakfast is usually washed down with grapefruit juice.

Beef burrito, vulture turkey wings, tomato salad with peppers and olives.
Again, hot sauce and jalepena's figure prominently.
I usually only drink water at lunch.

Qabeli Palau
This is an Afghan staple made with gosht-e gospan (sheep)
or gosht-e boz (goat), particularly the fatty bits,
rice, shaved zardaka (carrots), pyaza (onions), keshmesh (rasins),
ser (garlic) and sometimes zafaran (saffron).
The wealthier the family, the more actual meat is in the dish.
As Ello can appreciate, cultures that use rice as the core of the meal
have hundreds of local variations to each dish.
I've had three variations of this dish from three different places within a block of where I live.
Can't say which I prefer, they are all good.
Served with naan (flat bread), and often lubiya-e tond (spicy beans),
kofta (afghan meatballs) and assorted morcha-e tond (hot peppers).
Kabul has its own variation called Kabuli Palau where the meat ingredient is gosht-e murgh (chicken),
but sheep fat is still used to sear the chicken and add flavor.
They almost never eat plain rice, it is usually in some sort of palau.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Begging for a Share...

This closes out August. If I didn’t take another picture, I’d have enough material to keep me going every day. Unfortunately, as our power is very iffy right now, I’m having a little trouble keeping up. Sometimes when the power is working, the Internet is not. We are actually far better off than most Kabulis. Most people on the city grid get five to six hours of power as infrequently as every other day in some neighborhoods. We have two generators that supply the two safe houses on our block. What is supposed to happen is that when one goes down (out of fuel, overheating, maintenance), the other is supposed to kick in automatically. Well, the automatic bit no longer works for two reasons: the fail-over is broken and the second generator is broken too. So, when the only remaining generator dies as it has been dead for the last 36 hours, we are out of power, out of water and out of Internet. The water bit is actually the most troublesome since it means we can’t flush the toilets. It’s almost relief to go to work where there is power, water and Internet.

So, here’s the latest installment. Don’t worry Ello, I’ll put up some food pictures later this week.

The Russians were here!
This is a Soviet BMP hulk (armored personnel carrier).
You see military vehicle wreckage scattered about town and in the countryside.

Old Town bakery.
Note the drainage ditches leading from the door to the street.

The woman is wearing a burkha, but she's raised the veil.
This is not uncommon, particularly when the women are nearer to home,
but you also see it when they are shopping at the bazaar.

The next few pictures highlight the plight of women, particularly widows, and the disabled and elderly. However, it should be noted that there are "professional" beggars out there along with the truly needy. It is difficult to sort them out. The only beggars that you can be certain of are the ones missing limbs (there's a lot of those)...pretty hard to fake that.

There is no social safety net.
If a woman's husband dies and one of his male relatives does not marry her and if she doesn't have family that will take her back, she's on the street. What makes things worse is that the vast majority of adult women have no education and no marketable skills. Even some with skills wind up on the street if they can't find someone to care for the children.

Men with disabilities are equally at risk.

And of course, the elderly.
But this guy is likely my age, possibly younger.
The male life expectancy in Afghanistan is 43.6 years.
Female life expectancy is only slightly better at 43.96 years.