cooking with foia
There’s a running joke on both sides of the transparency community that the standards for secrecy are so absurd that “you could easily classify a ham sandwich.” And nowhere does that dictum ring more true than in regards to the Central Intelligence Agency, which has, on multiple occasions, classified ham sandwiches.
Back in May, we wrote about the military’s official brownie recipe from 2003, and requested the updated specifications. In response, we were pointed to a document on the Defense Logistics Agency’s website: PCR-C-007F, which covers the standards for all “cakes, brownies, muffin tops and filled cakes” consumed by the armed forces. While the document doesn’t contain any recipes, it does have some pretty clear guidelines for what it takes to be a military-grade chocolate banana muffin top.
A 2003 document with the unassuming title of “MIL-C-44072C” first surfaced in early 2010 on the personal website of Finnish programmer Lars Wirzenius, and shortly thereafter saw reporting from Reason, National Public Radio, and the National Security Archive’s Unredacted blog. What was in this document that generated such considerable interest? Nothing less than the military’s official specifications for brownies, spanning an impressive 26 pages.
After discovering the Soviet Army’s 1948 borscht recipe in the Central Intelligence Agency archives last month, we challenged our readers to try and make the sour soup themselves. While David and Shannon Perry made a slightly scaled-back version in an outdoor firepit, food historian - and professional fermenter - Julia Skinner adapted the recipe for home kitchens.
A document recently uncovered in the Central Intelligence Agency declassified archives reveals that for over 50 years the CIA kept a translated copy of the Soviet Army’s 1948 “Manual for the cook instructor of the ground troops in peacetime” a closely-guarded secret. That’s how you know that borscht recipe is solid.