Saturday, June 30, 2018

A Bitching Sailor is a Happy Sailor.

If there was one thing I could take away from my six years in Uncle Sam's Boat Club, other than the propensity to drink copiously, spout vulgar language at the drop of a hat, and a bad habit of constantly referring to my service of teh Facebook whether people wanted to hear about it or not, was that I learned how to cook.
      My job officially was called a Mess Management Specialist. Which is a 50 cent word for a cook. It wasn't what I originally enlisted to do, I go into that long convoluted spiel at a later date.  But I ended up going to school in San Diego for six weeks in 1981 to learn how to cook, Navy style.
      'A' School, as it was known then was an entry level school designed to insure that when you got to the fleet, you weren't completely useless. You could go into any Navy galley and at least know what to do with a knife and could identify a copper (large steam jacketed kettle used to make soups, sauces, etc), a griddle, a fryer, and an oven. 
       Of course, OJT is how you really learned how to get down. And get down is what we did. A lot of long hours, sore feet, bloody and burnt appendages, and bad backs from throwing around boxes of No. 10 cans, 70 lb steamship rounds, and 50 lb bags of flour. 
       But by the end of it all, I learned to cook. Not Bobby Flay or Anthony Bourdain level of Food Network culinary wizardry, but at least I won't starve. Breakfast was always my favorite meal to cook. I was the egg man on my carrier and cruiser. I'd man the griddle on my chow line and guys (Combat Navy ships were all male at the time) would call out how they wanted their eggs, and by the time, they got to me, their order would be ready.
      I got so that I could have a dozen orders on the griddle at the time. Scrambled, omelets, eggs to order. I got pretty good at it. It was about keeping that line moving. Dudes didn't have time to eat leisurely. So they wanted to get in, eat, and get out.
       And when I wasn't cooking eggs, I was backing up the line when stuff ran out. On my cruiser at sea, we fed 500 guys three times a day. Seven days a week. Multiply that number by 8 on a carrier. Easily putting in 80 hours a week.  It was a grind. We worked our asses off.
     And we got a lot of compliments, but also a lot of complaints too. A bitching sailor is a happy sailor. But we got it done.  I won't say that I can cook like a chef on Food Network, but give me a recipe card, and the appropriate ingredients, and I can whip up something that's edible, at least to me.

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