Join 3,497 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


It’s a dog-eat-dog world down there at the South Pole
May 24, 2014 12:28 PM   Subscribe

The Art of Antarctic Cooking
What comprises “Antarctic culinary history,” Anthony writes, is “a mere century of stories of isolated, insulated people eating either prepackaged expedition food or butchered sea life.” It helped if some of these isolated, insulated people knew their way around the kitchen. “The cook, however good or bad, is an artist whose simple vocation is to make others lives happier,” observed chef Raymond Oliver. More magician than artist, a cook with an Antarctic expedition ranked as one of its most important members. His kitchen little more than a Primus stove, his ingredients either canned or scrounged, he conjured nourishing dishes as if from the gelid air.

Hoosh: Roast Penguin, Scurvy Day, and Other Stories of Antarctic Cuisine (At Table)
“I am not dead,” exclaimed an astonished Capt. Georges Lecointe on awaking one morning circa 1897. Or perhaps we should say “complained.” In the throes of scurvy, his ship trapped in the ice in the black Antarctic winter, one of the leaders of the first major scientific expedition of the heroic age had been saved from death by a “last meal”: penguin that tasted like “beef, odiferous cod fish and a canvas-backed duck, roasted together in a pot with blood and cod-liver oil for sauce.” The poor man might have welcomed death.
Hoosh, previewed at Time To Eat The Dogs and reviewed by Chrisopher Hirst at The Independant.

"Hoosh was an old British polar explorers' slang term for kind of a slurry or porridge that they would make out of pemmican and melted snow - I should say, you know, boiled water," Anthony says.
Savory Seal Brains On Toast

The Antarctic Book Of Cooking And Cleaning covers more modern territory, no penguin or seal. As Devine and Trusler write in the book, “The first thing that comes to mind about Antarctica is not likely the food. But if you are going to spend any time there, it should be the second.”
Whenever adventure beckons, an open mind and a full stomach are necessities.

Food In Antarctica
The Best Cuisine In Antarctica
posted by the man of twists and turns (10 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
Surely the title should say "man-eat-dog world," no?

From the last link:

Besides helping to prepare an Indian-themed evening, I hosted the world’s coldest, most extreme and remote Diamond Jubilee tea party in honor of Queen Elizabeth II. We enjoyed it outdoors on the roof of the base on June 5, and served scones and Fortnum & Mason tea in a temperature of minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit, with one of the clearest views available on the planet.

It was one of the shortest tea parties ever. We had to drink the tea immediately before it froze or the tea cup stuck to our lips. We ate the scones before they became set in inedible stone and our hands became frostbitten.

posted by Dip Flash at 12:50 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


> Surely the title should say "man-eat-dog world," no?

Lewis and Clark recorded in their expedition journals that they always looked forward to the next Native American village, where they could trade for dog (which they "preferred to elk and horse in any state.") Expedition total, 190 dogs consumed.
posted by jfuller at 1:11 PM on May 24


Hoosh is a fantastic book!

And I'm glad I've already had brunch before diving into these links, though I can't decide if they will or will not make me hungry.
posted by rtha at 1:42 PM on May 24


he conjured nourishing dishes as if from the gelid air.

I now know what would happen if Stephen R Donaldson wrote essays.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:08 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


My favourite Metafilter Antarctic cuisine moment is RevRob330's AskMe about Necco Wafers.
posted by zamboni at 2:32 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


When I was in college working on my creative writing degree, I wrote a one act-play about Admiral Byrd's second Antarctic expedition, basing it on his journal about the ordeal, published as Alone. The journal is a great read, rather terrifying in parts due to the fact that while wintering in a small though relatively well provisioned shack, Byrd began to get sick and slowly go insane. He later decided that this madness was caused by bad ventilation and possible carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a bad stove pipe, but there's another theory that it might have actually been the mercury in the seams of the canned goods he was living on. Anyway, he loses his cookbook early on and it caused him great sadness and concern. Eventually he finds it again, but then never seems to use it as is evident in his entry for June 26th, 1934:
I've been counting calories, and find that I average about 1,200 daily. Not enough. I should average about 2,500. This morning, for the sake of the extra calories I melted a big chunk of butter into the hot, sweet milk. Supper menu tonight: dried lima beans, rice and tomatoes, plus canned turnip tops, plus Virginia ham. I'm eating more nowadays, but my appetite is zero.
My copy of the book is a first edition, published in 1938. It's cool in that the text is printed not in black, but in a dark, icy blue ink. It makes you feel chilly just reading it.
posted by Toekneesan at 4:53 PM on May 24 [6 favorites]


Zamboni, thanks for the link. I missed that when it went live so that was a delightful read, a reminder of what the internet and this site can be great at.
posted by Dagobert at 4:10 AM on May 25


After reading about hoosh and penguin meat and blood sauce, et al, when I saw the picture of some arthropod halfway through the last link, I was like GAH what the hell is that?!

Then, I realized it was lobster.
posted by ignignokt at 5:28 AM on May 25


Related: Big Dead Place. (previously)
posted by Chrysostom at 7:07 AM on May 25


Semi-related: Antarctica's Meat-Eating Horses, part one and two.
posted by BWA at 8:18 AM on May 25


« Older Godflesh is back....  |  The president of Saint Paul's ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments