Friday, May 17, 2013

In the Galley with John Butterfield


So many things are different when your home moves at 6 knots powered only by the wind. Little things that you don’t think about. Like food. On our third day at sea, I was assigned the job of assistant steward. The steward is the name for the person assigned to craft 3 meals and 3 snacks for 40 people, every single day of our voyage. It’s quite the task. Each day, one student is excused from standing watch and helps out in the galley instead. (It’s not a kitchen on a boat... it’s a galley.)

Sayzie and Erin in the galley with the latest lunch creation

            During the summers, I work at a science camp for 9-12 year olds, and one week per summer, each staff member helps out in the kitchen. When I showed up in the galley that third day of our voyage, I was transported right back to the summer camp kitchen, with a few notable exceptions. First, the menu. Ship lunch that day was lettuce wraps filled with Pho noodles that had been mixed with carrots, peppers, broccoli and sweet chili sauce. Dinner was fried rice with a side of bacon and onion grilled brussell sprouts. Our campers would have taken one look and run screaming the other way...

Jason is our resident model

            The second major difference was that at summer camp, when you go to chop something, it stands still. Not so on the Robert Seamans. I had the exciting task of chopping the onions for our brussell sprouts dish. First, I got to find the onions. We call it going to the grocery store because I took a plastic grocery bag and climbed up on deck. Then I made my way forward to a box stuffed between one of our life rafts and the science winch where I found crates of red and yellow onions and potatoes. Food storage is a big problem for us right now with just under 4 weeks left onboard. The refrigerator (called the “reefer” onboard) is so full that we have to contort ourselves into very strange positions to reach lettuce in the back, and we have no room for fruit so there are strings of pineapples and hammocks of oranges and limes all over the deck.
            Once I successfully made it back to the galley with the onions, I got my cutting board and knife ready and then had to corral the onions while the boat pitched back and forth. This situation was complicated by the fact that after the first cut, my eyes were watering profusely, and the onions and the cutting board continued to slide back and forth on the countertop. Plus, I had to keep myself from falling over when we ran into particularly violent swells.
            The pitch of the boat complicates cooking in ways I had never imagined. Our steward, Sayzie, explained that it’s almost impossible to cook anything in a normal cake pan. As the boat heels, all the batter runs to one side and you end up with burnt crust on the windward side and raw dough on the leeward side. So instead, we often use cupcake pans. Much better for cooking brownies, much harder to clean, as our B-Watch dish crew will tell you.

Erin catches up on some reading for our Marine Conservation class

            Overall, I really enjoyed my day in the galley. It was a great way to get an inside scoop on how our food gets prepared. And it gave me a day to rest the blister I got from hauling on sail lines the day before. We are now four days from Palmyra Atoll and quite a few of us are pretty excited to finally get in the water, rather than just looking at it all the time. Look out for my next blog in a few weeks to hear about how the manta ray tagging project goes when we do make it to the atoll.

            Cheers,
            -John


3 comments:

Adrienne Inglis said...

Thanks for this very enjoyable post!

Lynette said...

Your menu sounds wonderful! Nice and healthy and light, perfect for the voyage. Hows everyone feeling? Sounds a little rough especially in the galley?

Lynette said...

Your menu sounds wonderful! Nice and healthy and light, perfect for the voyage. Hows everyone feeling? Sounds a little rough especially in the galley?