Here’s a Blip from the Past, an old online journal entry from October 15, 2001. It just illustrates the Bush Admistration’s cluelessness towards non-American cultural differences. Someone emailed a response, “They (the Afghans) should be glad they’re getting anything at all to eat from us.” He wasn’t being sarcastic.
I’d like to know why Right Away Foods (based in McAllen, Texas — who’d have thought? Dubya connection maybe? D’ya think?) thought that starving Afghans might like to nosh on peanut butter ‘n crackers and ‘spicy beans and rice’? Right Away Foods is the company contracted by the government to provide MREs (‘Meals Ready to Eat,’ BTW) for our troops and prepare foodstuffs for the U.S. hunger relief air drops. (In all fairness, this company has been producing MREs for years. I just thought it was…well…funny that it’s a Texas company and we have a Texan in the White House and…oh never mind.)
Not only did this company (Right Away Foods) choose a rather…odd?…food selection, but, ignorant of middle eastern dining conventions chose to include plastic (read: WESTERN) eating utensils like forks, spoons, and knives. Ahem! Afghans eat with their fingers — particularly the starving people for whom the airdrops are targeted. To make matters more confusing to the recipients, the instructions were written in English, Spanish and French. I’m sure Right Away Foods could’ve found someone able to translate the instructions into Dari and/or Pashto, the two prevalent languages of Afghanistan. Fortunately,the manufacturers had included illustrations on the packages showing the proper way to squirt peanut butter onto a cracker.
Here’s hoping that the next relief air drops yield soy and wheat flour, as well as other more practical foodstuffs.
(Just a note: The people of Afghanistan are Afghans — the afghani is their currency. Thank you.)