Food is crucial for sustenance. It’s also an important part of our social fabric, and integral to our celebrations and holidays. Gourmet meals are slaved over for hours, the dishes lovingly selected and created, presented beautifully on a decorated table.
But what if food is unavailable or withheld? During kidnaps, most captives lose copious amounts of weight as a result of starvation-like diets. Kidnap hides are usually located in remote regions, restricting the choices for daily sustenance. Meals are often served only once a day, and they can be far from appetizing.
The hostage’s location can greatly influence the daily diet. Bread in all forms is ubiquitous for meals, ranging from cassava to sourdough to rye. Rice and beans are staples, both easy-to-store and readily accessible throughout the world’s kidnap hotspots. When it comes to meat, chicken and lamb tend to be the most prevalent forms of protein, as small livestock are easier to care for and transport. Fish is also a predominant food, especially if the kidnap hide is located near water where daily fishing can offer a freshly caught meal. In the Middle East, falafels are common, the chickpea- or fava bean-based patty is usually fried in a pan, often served in a pita. Oranges, apples, and other fruits are sometimes offered, depending on the region. The choices are extremely limited overall, and it’s likely the captive will be eating the same thing day after day.
Quantities of food are often in short supply in remote kidnap locales, and the cost of feeding a hostage cuts into the profit of a ransom. The good news for captives is that in most cases the kidnappers want to keep you healthy and alive so that they can negotiate a substantial sum for your release. It’s important to eat whatever you are given so you can keep your strength, endure the captivity, and eventually return home to your family. So no matter how unappetizing the food, try to eat it.
Starved, lonely, missing your loved ones for long stretches of time. It makes one consider what food fantasies would enter your mind while in captivity. I would choose something called Salzburg Nockerl, an incredible soufflé-like dish that represents the mountains surrounding Salzburg, Austria. I spent a year in this gorgeous city, and the place holds many fond memories, this dessert among them. I hope you’ll give it a try.