Investigative journalism collaborative MuckRock re-discovered a Freedom of Information Act request goldmine: The complaint box from the CIA cafeteria. Jason Smathers and George LeVine each filed separate FOIA requests (Smathers in 2011, LeVine in 2013) and the government had no choice but to divulge these most shameful secrets from the clandestine agency's food court.
What follows are 10 unedited email complaints from CIA employees about their cafeteria. We've ranked each culinary blunder in order based on how much of a threat they pose to our national security. The emails are reprinted as they appeared in their original form, so all misspellings and grammatical errors have been left in (looks like they could have used their own CIA style guide).
We can only pray that the Jazz Salad travesty has since been resolved.
[Check out more CIA cafeteria goodies over at MuckRock]
10. Sandwich Bread Disaster
Subject: Subway and Stale bread
I was very aggrevated at buying subway sandwich and going back to my desk to eat…to find the bread sale and “crunchy” hard…I had to ear the inside and throw the bread out…normally I would return it and have them make me another but I was already at NHB…6th floor…and too far and time consuming to return. PLEASE PLEASE…do not serve us stale bread…I never get stale bread at other subways…so can you lease hold quality control here to subway standards. Thank you
9. Friday Kielbasa Switcheroo
Subject: Friday Breakfast Kilbasa
I purchase the usual Friday Kilbasa this morning and was disappointed to find that FS has changed the brand or this morning’s batch was bad. It doesn’t taste, look or have the same texture as the kilbasa I have been getting from the cafeteria for the past several years. Please change back to the previous brand. This is a Friday treat that I look forward to every week.
8. Diet Pepsi Cloak-and-Dagger
Subject: Wrong Pepsi
Last week and then again this week I have talked to numerous cafe employees to inform them that the pepsi coming out of the regular pepsi spout is diet pepsi. They have the wrong pepsi tank hookled up to the wrong pepsi spout. Yet no one has fixed this problem. Why has this problem not been fixed? Thanks.
7. Unconvincing Russian Undercover Operations
Subject: Today’s Russian Menu
I had the Russian meal today and am disappointed. First of all, to try to be cute with substituting a backward R, a “Ya”, for an R, is tacky. I feel that someone tried to “Americanize” the food so it is palatable to Americans. Please realize that many of us have really traveled to these countries and when you provide food like you did today, it causes me to not support this kind of cuisine in the future. I feel that for example Beef Stroganoff is more American than Russian.
6. Almond Kidnapping
Subject: Breakfast Cereals
As of late there seem to be a shortage of almonds for the breakfast cereals, such as oatmeal, cream of wheat, etc. I sure I’m speaking for myself as well as others, when I kindly request that whomever is responsible for ordering food supplies note the level of usage and increase the almond purchases/supplies as appropriate. Thank you.
5. Condiment Pump Box Catastrophe
Subject: Main Cafeteria at Headquarters
Please put back the individual packets of ketchup, mustard & mayonnaise. The large pump boxes of these items are not convenient to use, causing frustration & are not liked by many people. Two times this week I heard folks make comments about these pump boxes. There were no containers to put ketchup, mustard & mayonnaise in. When I & others have had to use the pump boxes, we use the containers at the salad bar to put the condiments in. We have to find someplace to put down our food & drink, put the condiments in the container & put the lid on the containers. If people are taking their food back to their office they will need a bag from the cashier to juggle all these items. Comments have been made indicating this process is cumbersom, a pain in the neck & is causing frustration to some people. For these & I’m sure other reasons, it would be appreciated by many to put out the individual condiment packets. Thank you for considering this suggestion.
4. Burger King's Dollar Menu Regicide
Subject: Burger King
Why doesn’t the BK facility here offer the “dollar menu” as the outside facilities. Why can’t there be nicer food handlers? Attitude every day.
3. Chicken Meat Coup
Subject: Senor A’s
I recently purchased the 1/4 White Chicken Platter at Senor A’s. However, I was surprised to see that the portion served was not actually 1/4 chicken. I noticed that a portion of al of the breasts had been cut off and whole breasts were not served. As with the 1/4 Dark Platter being the leg and thigh, the 1/4 white should have been a whole bread and a wing. This needs to be corrected. Thanks!
2. Iced Tea Tech War
Subject: Iced tea in OHQ Careteria
I noticed that the previous Brewed Iced Tea dispensers have been replaced with different dispensers with pipes coming out of the back. This new tea tastes terrible as does most processed tea. Please consider reinstating the previous dispensers or with something that brews the tea close by. Thank you. By and large the cafeteria doesn an excellent job.
1. Jazz Salad Apocalypse
Subject: Jazz salads in Cafeteria
Hi — I’ve sent comments about the jazz salads being misadvertised before, but yesterday takes the cake. The Jazz Salad was supposed to be a Sonoma Grape and Proscuitto salad. This was advertised on the on-line menu, and on the sign above the salad (sometimes they are different). This is one of my favorites, so I stand in line and notice there are no grapes. Grapes are in the title of the salad. I asked about them, and the server pointed to the cherry tomatos, said they are red grapes. I said, “nom those are tomatos, sooooo should I just get grapes from the salad bar”. She didn’t really give an opinion — but I did get grapes from the salad bar, and I did tell the cashier about it (she asked me to write a note — I hope you got the note). I do not condone putting salad bar items into a Jazz salad (I have been known to get a separate container for salad bar items to add to my jazz salad) but felt justified in this case.
However, when an item is in the title of the Jazz Salad, please make an effort to include this item in the actual salad. Thank you.
BONUS: CAFETERIA COMPLIMENTS
Subject: Hot bar
The carrots on the hot bar today, 9 January 2013, were amazingly good. Thanks!
Subject: salad dressing
Finally, you have improved the salad dressing set-up…it is GREAT…THANK YOU.
Subject: Great pre-made salad
Hi — the pre-made salads in the cafeterias are very good, but this new one, Southwestern Chicken Caesar chop salad was EXCELLENT. thanks!