War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

dining in KAF

invited to the feast/KAF/smsteele/2009

in KAF you have to hit Tim’s. inevitable. you walk the Boardwalk. that little slice of Dodge city alive and well in the middle of the airfield (think cowboys. think black golf shirts. think steroids. think BFGs. think “howdy ma’am”), just this side of the cesspool (known as the poo pond by some), close enough you get a gust of shit when the wind blows in the right, or wrong more likely, direction.

I met a guy who works at Tim’s. out there for a 9 month stretch. he rotates between donut duty, snack shop duty, and mopping out shacks. I asked if the pay was any good and he said, “a bit better than home. but there’s a bonus and some kind of a medal or diploma at the end” and I’m thinking, hmmm.

anyway, when I was there I checked out Tims just because you have to. and they had no donuts. just coffee. someone said an entire month’s supply of donuts had been jacked on its way to KAF. this could be myth but nothing would surprise me. and part of me likes to imagine the Afghans unloading the donuts and looking at them and thinking, WTF?”

halfway up the BW from Tims is an espresso bar with a long lineup, Green Beans or something like that… the irony of “green” beans in the middle of one of the most environmentally-challenged places on the planet (“ya, come drink our organically grown, ethically traded java while inhaling jet fuel”) is distinctly KAFian. I didn’t bother lining up because my good friend D back home at my “office” caffe fantastico always loads me up with prima joe before I go with the troops.

at the opposite corner is a French bakery thingy. then down the way there is a Subway and a Pizza Hut (I think). behind the BW an Italian restaurant where you actually sit down and have waiters etc. (weapons under the table).

one day I wandered down to the British PX (or whatever they call it) and next door is a huge espresso bar with leather chairs, tables to sit at, jigsaw puzzles, old magazines, t.v. with British Sky television. weirdly normal. the coffee was good (better than any I had when I actually lived in the UK). so was the cake. but the best part was that despite the t.v. on all the time, it was quiet in a normal way… just the bssshhhhhh of the espresso machine. and the smell of the place was normal. no diesel. no shit dust.

there were the messes too. I tried them all. wrote restaurant reviews with the young Lt. tasked to me (I’ll post them some other time). but the best food I had at KAF was the accidental feast.

one day wandering the BW in search of lapis lazuli I pushed open the door to a shop and came upon a group of Afghans, american soldiers, and a few Afghan-american terps, all sitting around a feast spread over the rugs. chicken. sweet, sweet Afghan grapes. pomegranates. tea. and pears that tasted like almonds.

I hadn’t noticed the closed sign on the door. I excused myself and tried to back out but the young fellow who owned the shop invited me to join everyone. he told his “helper” (an older man of lesser status) to make room for me and to cut me a pomegranate. I sat down and listened to the americans and the Afghans banter. at any time in KAF one never knows exactly who is who. what this person does or that. who knows? spook? sniper? public affairs officer? it didn’t really matter.

for a half hour in the middle of a war zone we sat down and shared the feast. the pomegranates sweet, tart and delicious.

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled dining in KAF. It was posted here on April 09, 2010.


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