Posted By Laughing_Wolf • [September 23, 2009]
I promised more, and here it is. Let's start with a quiz. How do you get to a room full of happy and full Soldiers, Marines, and others?
Well, it starts small, as in a small crazy idea that gets support. It starts with two bags of food purchased almost as soon as you step off the train in Landstuhl. Actually, if I had known the new grocery was literally almost at the train station, that might well have been my first stop...
You are then cruel and force a nice person to get up at an extremely early hour (for them, at least) and drive you to the farmer's market in K-Town.
The market is actually at least twice what you see here, and was filled with many good vendors and a lot of good looking fresh produce, cheese, meats, and more. One of the goals of this effort was to buy as much as possible on the local, and this place made that extremely easy to do.
I think we may have made this vendor's day (and one others' as well) with all we bought. She was extremely helpful, and even gave us some peppers and such for decoration/presentation.
You then further abuse your friend by having them meet yet another person so their car can be loaded down as well after a massive shopping trip.
You then descend upon a USO facility that really doesn't have any idea of what is about to hit them. You take over all their counter space, use up all their pots and pans, and generally take over their kitchen for about ten hours just to do prep work.
You throw in a teaser meal of spaghetti that becomes something more than a tease. Then, you get serious.
You call in a team of Angels, with a special request to a foodie among them to help you out. You give them the timeline, the process, and you turn them loose to do it. You take advantage of an Army cook who is on his last day in the wounded transient barracks before heading back to the States to help/run the grill.
You grill, even as Team Potato runs into an oven that won't work. Given that you've already taken over the kitchens in the wounded warrior barracks to help with baking potatoes, the options are limited, but Team Potato pulls through, improvising and adapting to get the job done as best it can be done.
Then you get to the meat of the matter.
You start grilling roughly 128 steaks. The time to launch, er, lunch is counting down.
Team Potato begins to morph into Team Service, joining up with USO volunteers to get things ready to serve.
Others make sure that things are warmed, given a final cook, and otherwise made ready for the serving line.
Then, the service begins
The room is full of wounded, ill, staff, and others -- all enjoying steak; baked potatoes; baked sweet potatoes with homemade cinnamon butter; truffled mac and cheese; sauteed local mushrooms; sauteed crimini, oyster, and other mushrooms; a huge mixed salad; mixed fresh berries, vanilla ice cream, and homemade balsamic syrup; and, desserts provided by the USO volunteers. Meals are taken to some special people at the hospital, including the ICU staff.
Some special guests are served as well
You might not recognize the gentleman in the center, especially as the last time you may have seen him at Soldiers' Angels Germany
he was not in good shape, being in a wheel chair with a feeding tube. No tube needed this day...
There is nothing that can't be done with a Team of Angels, a team of USO volunteers, and a real Army cook at your back. Injury, illness, recalcitrant ovens, and lack of cooking space will not even slow them down.
There is nothing that can't be done with readers here and elsewhere, for you all made this possible.
Thank you. For at the end of the day, there were only a few of the roughly 150 or so potatoes baked and a bit of salad left. The steaks, mushrooms, mac and cheese, and fresh berries were gone. In their place were some happy and full warriors, along with some of the people who labor to make them well and whole (and safe while there) again.
With your help, we will do it again. I've already been contacted by some chefs who want to do something not only at Landstuhl, but here in the States as well. We also have an idea, and to that end:
Tony Bourdain, Tom Colicchio, Rick Bayless, Elizabeth Falkner, Art Smith, Hubert Keller, Tim Love, Suzanne Tracht, Mark Peel -- We're calling you out. Do you have what it takes to cook for the wounded, either at Landstuhl or here in the States? What's keeping you from doing both? Challenge is issued. Do you have the skill and courage to accept?
Let these people know that they are hereby called out, and encourage them to step up on this. What started as Cooking with Laughing Wolf is now Cooking with the Wounded, and not only do we want to cook, we want to turn it into something more. A chance to try new foods, to learn about the food business and what it takes to succeed in it, and, what career possibilities are in it as well.
Let's take this to the next level. With your support, we can and will do so.
who wants to thank Jens Wickenhagen for his photos and the ones he took with my camera