The aircraft carrier is not only a weapon platform but also a huge systematic project. Besides equipment with advanced technologies, such seemingly common factors as meals will also become the key to the overall combat effectiveness, thus needing comprehensive arrangement.
The aircraft carrier carries at least one or two thousand people and at most five or six thousand people. The consumption of ingredients used to provide so many people with three meals a day is an astronomical figure. Meanwhile, such issues in the training period of the aircraft carrier as food reserves and supplies and palatability of meals will also be considered.
Therefore, China’s first aircraft carrier will inevitably pose a new challenge to the Navy of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on how to provide food support for the large surface ship. From the point of view of cooking, western food is relatively easier to make and highly nutritious, but the equipment is complex; Chinese food is delicious and the equipment is comparatively simple, but the cooking process is complex and both the cooking water quantity and pollutant discharge capacity are large.
For an aircraft carrier carrying thousands of people, traditional cooking methods of Chinese food will put unparalleled pressure on cook staff. It is hard to imagine how much valuable fresh water will be consumed in cleaning vegetables and how much manpower will be needed to cut and cook the vegetables if we make a common dish named Yu-Shiang Shredded Pork (Sautéed with Spicy Garlic Sauce) for all the officers and men on the ship. The standard of the meals abounding in fish and meat on aircraft carriers of the United States is high heat supply and simple processing. Except those of senior officers, the meals of ordinary officers and men are absolutely tasteless, and also do not adapt to China’s specific conditions.
Therefore, the meals of China’s aircraft carrier will definitely take the road of finished products and combination of Chinese and western food. On one hand, on the huge platform of the aircraft carrier, Chinese food alone can hardly meet the physical demands of officers and men from combat training and also exerts great pressure from its production, and hence it is necessary to introduce some western food, such as fried chicken, western-style pastries and fruit juice. On the other hand, the supply of finished dishes will be further increased to suit the taste of Chinese officers and men. For example, the PLA Daily told that the PLA submarine troop units have used finished collective food. Drawing on the practice of in-flight meals, the food packaged by tinfoil-paper bags needs to be heated only before fried meat-and-vegetable dishes are finished.
Finished Chinese food is more difficult to prepare than finished western food. But with the constant improvement of China’s food technology and logistical support capability, world-class meals will be definitely available to the officers and men on China’s aircraft carrier.
Source: People’s Daily Online Jan 2013