“Hot Pot”

mess deck
New Mess Deck addition on left – Door is entrance to chow line

Tuesday, April 2, 1968

Sumo had been pondering the short ribs and what to do with them.  He asked Reb and me if we would manage breakfast and lunch while he cooked a Chanko Nabe or a Hot Pot style meal.  The traditional meal was basically a stew, loaded with meat and vegetables and simmered for hours.  We agreed, and Reb was able to get his beauty sleep after 0900.

Just before lunch we were visited by Division Food Service.  A gray-haired Lieutenant Colonel with a clipboard was primarily inspecting the new mess deck.  He liked the partitions, dividing the officers mess, and suggested I stop at Division Food Service Supply and pick up fiberglass tables and chairs (he wrote and approved a requisition).

He moved into the galley, observing Sumo braising short ribs, and asked, “Where’s your recipe card?”  Sumo smiled and answered, “There is no recipe card for ‘Chanko Nabe’.”  The Colonel said, “Beef Stew index card would work,” and smiled back.  Sumo replied, “Yes Sir,” and pulled the recipe card out to show compliance.

Inspecting the bakery, the Colonel wanted to know why we altered the mess hall for this endeavor.  I had been schooled not to volunteer information during inspections, but this question was open ended so I answered, “Our night baker needs his own space.”  . . .  “Why?”  I responded, “Sir, he’s an artist.”  I was surprised with his reply, “I like that.”  He wrote me a requisition for “Bakery Supplies.”

I started to show off the BBQ Pit but realized it would be volunteering information and steered away from the area.  As the Colonel made his exit, he complimented my efforts in the mess hall and said, “Your Sunday BBQ steak cook-off is one of a kind.”  We passed the inspection!

That night the “Hot Pot” meal was a success, and Sumo’s addition of Udon noodles made it authentic.  The thick and sticky bone broth gravy set the entree apart from any stew I’d ever tasted.

After dinner I opened a letter (birthday card) from Jenny — I liked reading them privately (it was postmarked March 28).  It started, “Happy Birthday Lover!  I’ll give you your present in Hawaii.”  She always managed to mail cards and letters to arrive on the exact date.

Division Inspection
Command Chronology – Kilo/4/11 – April 1968

Next Edition:  Refrigeration

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