The mess cooks and supply personnel were my favorite people. I volunteered any chance to do extra duty as well as clean and maintain their weapons. They took care of me as well.
The reality in the military is that your basic needs are met but they have no obligation to provide you with what you want. Great leaders always make sure their troops are taken care of and put the well being of their warriors above themselves.
That said, there has always been a bartering system for an extra juice box, jelly and peanut butter packets, crackers and cheese.
I recall getting a box of the newly fielded MRE bread after helping the cooks, taking it back to the track and sharing it with the squad and whoever else was around. These kind of things were moral boosters.
Just before our push into Iraq, we had 1 hot meal and 3 MRE's a day. A warrior can't fight well on an empty stomach.
Bullets, Beans, Boots and Band Aids... also a good roll of 100 MPH tape.
The root of mess is the old French mes, "portion of food" , drawn from the Latin verb mittere, meaning "to send" and "to put", the original sense being "a course of a meal put on the table"
The culinary specialist is primarily responsible for the preparation and service of food in field or garrison food service operations.
Bake, fry, braise, boil, simmer, steam and sauté as prescribed by Army recipes
Operate, maintain and clean field kitchen equipment
Perform preventive maintenance on garrison and field kitchen equipment
Those who want to serve must first take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, a series of tests that helps you better understand your strengths and identify which Army jobs are best for you.
Job training for a culinary specialist requires 10 weeks of Basic Combat Training and nine weeks of Advanced Individual Training with on-the-job instructions. Part of this time is spent in the classroom and part in the field, including practice in food preparation.
Some of the skills you’ll learn are:
Standard and dietetic menus and recipes
Preparation and cooking of various foodstuffs and bakery products
Food and supply ordering
Storage of meats, poultry and other perishable items
Interest in cooking, home economics, health, mathematics, accounting and chemistry
Additional information at: http://www.quartermaster.army.mil/jccoe/Joint_Culinary_Training_Directorate/basic_skills/iet_basic.html