Saturday, February 06, 2010

British Army chef connects with his inner-Spam

Here's a story that belongs in the annals of World War II, when Spam was a common feature on the mess trays of Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in the Pacific Theater.

Being at the front line of a war zone brings countless hardships.

But Britain's brave Armed Forces are justly famous for their resourcefulness in times of adversity.

And one heroic figure surely deserves a medal for maintaining morale in Afghanistan among the soldiers of the 2nd Royal Welsh Guards - on a 42-day diet of Spam.

Army chef Corporal Liam Francis refused to surrender when food supplies were interrupted by Taliban fighters for six weeks.

With almost no gastronomic ammunition to hand, the 26-year-old opened tin after tin of the chopped pork and ham and produced a series of dishes to rival the famous Monty Python Spam sketch.

"I was surprised what we could do: Sweet and sour Spam, Spam fritters, Spam carbonara, Spam stroganoff and Spam stir fry," said the father of one from Tidworth, Wiltshire.

"We were on compo [field rations] for six weeks and we only had one menu - Spam."

But he added that the troops were relieved when fresh supplies finally arrived. "The first day off Spam, I prepared battered sausages, chips and curry sauce," he said. "The Sergeant Major said it was the best meal he had ever had."

Corporal Francis, who serves as a Royal Logistics Corp chef attached to the 2nd Royal Welsh Guards, began his tour of Afghanistan in July.

He was forced into emergency action at the Forward Operating Base in Sangin when Taliban fighters shot down a civilian supply helicopter the day before he arrived, leaving him without the usual beef burgers, chicken, sausages and fish and chips.

Yesterday his proud mother Pat, 65, from Bristol, said of her married son: "I was amazed when I heard the story about serving the troops using nothing but Spam because he hates the stuff.

"He would never have eaten it if I'd served it to him, that's for sure."

Source: Luke Salkeld, "Operation Spamalot: After Taliban hit supplies, Army chef serves up 42 days of Spam,", February 5, 2010.

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