SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
March 05, 2020
Food at SEA
36 degrees, 16’ S, 179 degrees,12’ E
Food is a big part of our life on the Robert Seamans: we eat three meals (each with two sittings), and three scheduled snack times directly in-between meals every day. With six scheduled food times and extra snack freely available, it kind of feels like we are eating and cooking like Hobbits from JRR Tolkien's realm of Middle Earth. Each day our ship's steward makes breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies snack, "lunchin", second "lunchin", afternoon snack, supper, dinner, and midnight snack. For any who haven't had the pressure of reading or watching the Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings, I highly recommend it. I am rereading The Hobbit right now, and really related with Bilbo Baggins making lots of delicious food when it was my turn to cook. A few days ago I was the acting steward assistant; the steward is the ship's cook and ours is named Sabrina. Each student gets to spend a day as her assistant and are responsible for planning and contributing to the making of meals for that day. The students aboard have a wide range of kitchen experience, form never cooking, to making all their food, and everything in-between. But no matter how much experience they have, Sabrina always has something she can teach them.
For February 28th, as steward assistant my menu was as follows: blueberry muffins, vegan/GF blueberry muffins, eggs, fruit, yogurt, and granola, for breakfast. Sweet and sour apple slices with various dips for mourning snack. A multitude of different types of giant quesadillas (sliced like a pizza), spanish rice, and salad for lunch. Pears, paired with grapes, gouda cheese and crackers for afternoon snack. Dinner took several hours to make, and consisted of homemade pitas, falafel, and tzatziki sauce, along with cucumbers, tomatoes, greens, cheese, pickled onion, and olives. And lastly for midnight snack I made my famous s'mores cookies, but I baked them like brownies and cut then into s'mores squares. Sabrina had never made them before, and I hope she enjoyed getting a new recipe under her belt as much as I do. Cooking on a ship has its own challenges, especially when the swells make everything slide. And it was fun to learn how to adapt to cooking in the galley. I really loved my day in the galley (ship's kitchen), and I didn't realize how much I missed cooking and baking until I got to do it again. It was also really fun to talk with Sab.
The day after my assistant steward day we landed in a bay of Aotea Great Barrier Island (which has no relation to the great barrier reef, despite the name). For the days we are in port Sabrina doesn't have a steward assistant, but on March 2nd we left port, and Justin was given the position of steward assistant. For Justin's day he made baked macaroni and cheese with a multitude of toppings for lunch, and pulled pork sandwiches on fresh baked rolls for dinner, and when I interviewed him on his day he said "I liked how much Sabrina included me in the process of what we made, and how she was able to tailor it to what we could do on the ship, it was fun working with Sab because she is funny and energetic." The next day it was Lindsay's turn and after that we had Julian, and today was Juliet. All-in-all, every steward assistant I have talked to said they enjoyed their day cooking with Sab.
Food is not only a big part of the ship because it fuels all of us, but also because we use so much fuel to maintain our modern day food storage. We use fuel to power our walk in fridge and freezer and day fridge, to heat our oven, to warm the water for sanitizing the dishes. We make and manage our own water aboard the ship involving a water filtration system, pumps, etc. and we use a lot of that water in cooking and cleaning. The large fridge, freezer, and dry storage room (like a huge pantry), along with smaller storage locations scattered all over the ship allow for us to have lots of food. We need a lot of storage for food since we have nearly 40 people aboard, eating six scheduled meals a day for six weeks. SEA semester spends about 10-15 thousand dollars on food on our voyage alone.
Step back to over 150 years ago, back in the time tall ships sailed the high seas, food storage worked very differently than how we store food on our tall ship today. The 1800's sailors diet consisted omostly of biscuits and boiled salted meat, and various pickled items. They had no large freezer to store meat, and so all the meat they kept on board was usually extremely salted and couldn't last long. Sailors often tried to acquire meat whenever they came into port and some would fish and try to catch birds. They often tried to acquired fresh fruit and vegetables and pigs and chickens at port as well. But unlike us they could go months without going into port, and that made having fresh food improbable.
Compared to them we are certainly living in luxury, in fact we had baked Brie with crackers for afternoon snack on one day, courtesy of Lindsay. Sab also makes sure to celebrate all birthdays aboard the voyage with sweet treats. My birthday was the first to be celebrated aboard, with cupcakes , but we have had several birthday celebrations since then. Just another way cooking brightens our days. So folk back home shouldn't worry about whether your favorite SEA semester student or crew member is eating well!
- Etasha Golden