By Jason Wagner
The Menu #9 is just code speak for a chicken fajita filling, tortillas, fried rice, spiced pound cake, orange electrolyte drink mix and a cocoa drink mix.
Before we commence, Happy Fourth of July, and remember – no refugee could save the hireling or slave from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave…Stay prepared out there!
Taste – 8.0/10: Let’s start with the obvious thing; the chicken fajita filling…Okay, the filling itself was, well, mostly meat and sauce, with only the occasional sighting of red peppers, but you know, for an MRE chicken fajita filling, it wasn’t bad you know, I guess, ultimately speaking I could sum it up as better than I had feared and worse than I had hoped. Worse in the sense that I had hoped it wouldn’t be quite so saucey, and had more vegetables, much more. Better then I feared in that the chicken was surprisingly good quality, the sauce had an appealing spiciness about it and, well, it tasted pretty good.
The Tortillas: Good, very good in fact. Tortilla’s, I didn’t have much fear for these, and rightly so; they were soft, as flavorful as tortillas can be – they tasted about the same as any other tortilla that wasn’t made from scratch that I’ve ever eaten. For an MRE, that’s a fairly amazing thing.
Fried Rice: I’m not going to sugar coat this, primarily because the rice was already way to sugary – the rice was…disappointing. As I was taking the photos of the packaging, I couldn’t help but think that the rice would be the most appealing part of the MRE, except for the pound cake…mmm…But, alas, I was disappointed. The taste…gah, sugary, flavorless, just…downright gnarly, well, close to gnarly – so much so that while its edible, you’ll derive absolutely no pleasure from its consumption.
Spiced Pound Cake: This was my favorite part, and I knew it would be even before I sampled it. It tasted like a real, honest to God spiced pound cake, and you know what – that’s what survival eating is all about. So, it tasted like, well, spiced pound cake, and what does spiced pound cake taste like? Somewhat sweet, but its primary flavor is derived from spices, not least of all cinnamon. So long as you don’t mind baking spices (surprisingly, some people do) I do think that you’ll find this to be rather gourmet.
Orange Electrolyte Drink Mix: Slightly sweet, light and refreshing, nothing to complain about here. When made with 12 ounces of water, it’s, like I just pointed out, very light, but if you want something with a bit more kick, then simply substitute some of the water.
Cocoa Drink Mix: Unlike the orange drink mix, this one actually sort of gives you some throat kick. Humorously enough, if the flavor is too strong for you, or you want to stretch it out, try adding extra water.
The Coffee, Powdered Creamer, Sugar Packs, Salt, Pepper and Hot Sauce: Well, I’m not really sure what there is to point out here, except that they all tasted very good; oh, and the hot sauce has a lot of kick, so you’ve been warned.
Chicken Fajita Filling: I wanted more vegetables and less sauce, but equally so I craved more of them for some added texture. I’m not sure if there was even a single onion in this, and even if there were – I mean I’d of liked to of seen strips of onions and peppers, like in that Mountain House Freeze Dried Fajita Filling I reviewed a few days ago; of course, that one didn’t even include tortillas, much less all the sides.
Tortillas: They were soft and chewy…that’s all that needs to be said.
Fried Rice: The only thing that could be worse than this rice’s taste is its godforsaken texture. Not great, not good, not even decent, but worse; I think every human on earth can agree that severely undercooked rice is something that should be wiped from the face of the planet. Too bad it doesn’t end there, it wasn’t only hard and brittle, but slightly slimy, so, no – I cannot say that I’m impressed with the fried rice.
Spiced Pound Cake: It was both light and hearty at the same time, its texture was practically what you’d get if you went to a bakery and brought home a spiced pound cake, so yes, texture wise – there was nothing offensive like any sliminess or anything like that to report here.
Drink Mixes: Both had very acceptable textures, the orange one was smooth, while the cocoa drink mix was thicker and creamy.
The Coffee, Powdered Creamer, Sugar, Salt, Papper and Hot Sauce: Well, the coffee had a very lifelike texture about it, while the sugar is no different from what you use every day, the same goes for the salt, pepper and everything else.
Convenience – 10/10: An MRE on hand means a hot meal is never far away. Do you ever stop and think just how amazing modern living is? How you’ve got running tap, electricity, lighting, computers, video games, books and of course, a kitchen to cook things in – it really is something to marvel, at least I think so. Unless you’ve got virtually unlimited resources, in the event of a very serious event, for instance, a vast nuclear exchange, you’ll no doubt lose many of the modern conveniences we all enjoy, all the more reason to prepare things like gasoline, charcoal, food, water, shelter, you know – the basics. Another thing to stock up on, something that could prove invaluable are MRE’s, such as these, MRE’s that can heat their contents with very minimal amounts of water; that’s another thing I find to be amazing, a chemical inside of a pouch that literally boils water so much that the food becomes heated throughout. As is typically the case, you needn’t even concern yourself with the utensils or serving containers, indeed, even the salt and pepper are included here.
Operational Security – 10/10: There’s nothing of note to give you away here; the heating pouch doesn’t give off embers, or anything of the sort…it’s completely invisible, well, you know what I mean. The food cooks inside of a pouch, so again, there are no absolutely no concerns there, I guess if I wanted to nitpick, the largest concern would be shaking the drink mix pouches, but, even then, the noise is minor, and you could just stir it, instead. Besides…if you were so close to the enemy that they could hear such a trivial noise, why were you even preparing food, anyway? Anyway, I’ve always found MRE’s to be intriguing; you’ve got a complete and nutritious meal, a hot meal that’s ultra-stealthy, and if you don’t have time to hanging around, or just need a quick snack before battle – you can eat the components individually.
Nutrition – 9.6/10: 1180 calories, now, for survival food anyway, THAT is what I call a complete and utter gut buster. Calories like that are not only what’ll fend off starvation, those calories are inordinately tied to your efficiency, and thus – survival. Beyond the caloric numbers, you’ve got generous allotments of protein, more than enough vitamin C to fend off scurvy, plenty of Calcium, notable amount of Iron and a nice boost to your Vitamin A; and remember, chances are, so long as your spending some time out in the sunlight, the vitamin D will naturally build up in your body. Beyond the numbers on the package there aren’t a lot traditionally healthy things here, like vegetables, that sort of thing, and despite that, I still give this one very high marks.
Bulk/Weight – 9.2/10: They’re a tad bulky, but that’s before you consider what’s in each one. Two of these would be enough to care for an active survivor very well, so, unlike other things were you’d need, say, 6 a day, chances are this is more efficient with the space, oh, and it’s fairly lightweight at 25 ounces.
Man Portability and Efficiency – 10/10: There’s virtually no waste here, everything is nice and orderly. You needn’t use up any of your water for the cooking, and even with the drink mixes – that’s not water that was absorbed by rice, and thus – no longer hydrating, hardly, the drink mixes merely take the water, keep the hydration and infuse it with taste and nutrients. The heater is the only thing that takes water and doesn’t give it back, and trust me – you don’t want to drink it afterwards, yuck. Despite the heaters use of water, I didn’t subtract anything from the score on account of the heater using only a miniscule amount of water, which seemed to be about an ounce, maybe less. Its light relatively small in size, too; so long as you’ve got things like this on hand, you can plan, in confidence as long of patrols as anybody could reasonably want; which is good, you never know when you’ll have to scout out those nefarious vagabonds a few clicks from your base.
Filling Factor – 9.9/10: If this won’t leave you feeling filled like one happy survivalist, then, well I think you’ve got one hell of an Armageddon appetite. Freeze dried entrées are great, and some of them will leave you feeling near-bloated, but as far as complete meals goes, multi-course MRE’s like this are basically the ticket. If you’re not full after eating everything else, by the time you finish the heavyweight spiced pound cake, I think that you’ll be reconsidering your desire for more food. In the best all of circumstances you’d just eat the whole thing in one go, but as necessities dictate, you may have to triage rations, so, in that sense very filling meals become all the more of an asset to have.
Final Review – 9.4/10: If the chicken fajita filling were a bit improved, and the fried rice GREATLY improved, this would have been my favorite MRE yet, but you know what, even its worst components are edible, and I’m happy with this one for the sum of all its parts, and I do think that you would be too. Surely, I cannot be the only one whom looks at their survival cache, and smiles when they see a healthy stockpile of MRE’s, yeah? Ultimately, with their being so many MRE’s available, you can only stock up on so many and given that I found this one to be a very good overall package, I can say that this would make a very fine choice for implementation in any good emergency prep, or preparation, if you will, kit and/or cache.