KABUL, Afghanistan — It was Army Sgt. Keith Wells’ first Thanksgiving Day away from his family and despite a cornucopia of food provided for the troops, his taste buds were craving his wife’s macaroni and cheese back home.
“My wife’s a foodie — you know, the Food Network, cooking shows. Everything she makes is golden,” Wells of Charlotte, N.C., said Thursday at a large international military base in the Afghan capital.
The dining hall served up mac-and-cheese along with traditional Thanksgiving Day fixings. Wells was thankful for the good food, but he still missed his wife’s home-cooking.
Huge hunks of beef greeted the estimated 2,500 diners as soldiers lined up in the dining hall. Red-white-and-blue decorations filled the room. Brochures titled “Learn about combat stress” served as table centerpieces.
There was roast turkey, sliced turkey, ham and rib-eye steaks. The troops were served steaming side dishes of dressing, corn, collard greens, yams and mashed potatoes and gravy that some lapped up with spoons. For dessert, there was a massive cake with a turkey etched in icing, pumpkin spice cookies and scores of pies.
A short walk from the dining hall, service members were playing a modified version of football.
Parts of the scene could have come from a snapshot of any U.S. city: American guys in sweats tossing the pigskin, a scoreboard, a coin toss to start the game.
But on this military base, concrete barriers surrounded the field. The referees wore camouflaged shirts and the spectators carried rifles. The artificial turf was frayed and so dusty that when one player spiked the football, a puff of dirt rose from the field.