Monthly Archives: November 2013

food in McMurdo!

Someone pointed out that theme of my blog is “a foodie on a bike” and I haven’t even mentioned the food here!

There are 800 people on station and the cooks prepare 4 meals a day for the population. That’s some high volume. I’ve never spent time in an huge volume kitchen like this and it’s awesome. The mixing bowls are gigantic, the flat-tops tip up to easily transfer food into hotel pans, there are many walk-ins – one dedicated just to thawing food – and on delivery day, when the galley receives the food order from the warehouse across the road, it comes on about 40 pallets and takes multiple people all day to sort and put away.

When I first arrived the most shocking thing to me was the lack of fresh vegetables. No veg that didn’t come out of a can or from the freezer existed. That was a shock. There was bad weather and very few flights for a couple weeks and the government was shut down and friends were getting sent home and everything was a bummer. Then one day, we got “Freshies.” Fresh fruit and vegetables. Lettuce and arugula and bananas and apples and onions and beets and bok choy. My friend Brent got sent home during the shut down, and when he found out he was returning asked if I wanted anything from home. Apples and some serious hand lotion – it is SO dry here. I racked my brain for more comforts from home that I was missing, but all I could think of was a perfect apple, and the thrill of chomping into that first fresh and crispy apple after so long without was just as great as I was hoping it would be.

Luckily, we’ve had regular flights for the past couple weeks and Freshies have been pretty consistent. I get excited when there are salad greens or new vegetables or fresh fruit that I haven’t seen for a while – we had fresh asparagus for the first time yesterday and roasted cauliflower for lunch today. YES!

Real eggs are something else that were lacking when I arrived. Since our first freshie flight, however, we’ve had the option to get up to 2 fried eggs per person every morning for breakfast. There are two egg cooks each morning serving up eggs how you like ’em with a selection of ingredients to toss into the mix. Breakfast is from 5:30 – 7:30 a.m. and I miss it most of the time. I work until about midnight or 1 a.m. every night, so I’ve recently just given up. Sleep is nice. We also just got a super duper quickie pizza oven a week ago and now have 24 hour pizza – that’s a bad idea. I love pizza. Now I can just eat cold pizza and an apple for breakfast in my dorm room. Perfect!

Our bakers are amazing and we have a different fresh-baked bread every day. They also make really tasty sweet stuff and I have told myself that I will only eat sweets on Wednesdays when they make a plethora of fresh-baked and delicious cookies. Then today they make something called a Princess Bar and I just can’t resist. I have two.

I’ve been eating a ton of meat. A beef lover over-ordered a few years ago and we’re working our way through something like 50,000 pounds of it. It’s on the menu for every meal in some shape or form. I rarely eat beef at home and here I am chowing it down when not faced with having to cook raw meat, or pay money for it or decide whether or not to order it from a menu. When it’s staring me in the face every meal I can only think of the juicy savoriness and my animal rights and GMO consciousness goes out the door. Yum.

We have an “ice cream” machine which produces a soft-serve product called Frosty Boy that is definitely not ice cream. We always have vanilla and another creative flavor. Currently Turkish Coffee. Before that was Mexican Chocolate and when I first arrived it was Pear and Bleu Cheese – that one took a while to run through. I don’t like Frosty Boy. It’s a favorite of the station to be sure, but it tastes too fake to me.

Milk – powdered.

Most of the cooks down here are professional chefs. Many have owned their own restaurants and run impressive kitchens. They do an awesome job keeping it fresh and switching it up, and the food keeps getting better as the season progresses. Some days however, it’s just not good. Or maybe I am just totally not in the mood for what is on the line. When that’s the case, I’ll make a Panini for myself instead. Not a bad option – sandwiches are my thing.

I have absolutely no food-related pictures. So here’s a pic of my roommate, Susie, doing a wheelie on the apron at the ice runway!
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Around Town

Some scenes from town and around…

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Beginning of a sunset walk a couple weeks ago outside building 155, the blue building on the right. This is the hub of McMurdo. It houses the cafeteria, (“galley”), offices, barber shop, retail store, dorm rooms, craft room, computer lab, and more. The bar, Gallagher’s, where we have weekly watermelon-smashing-with-sledgehammer parties, is the brown building. From the outside, most buildings just look like brown squares. No signage indicates what’s inside. Open the door, and you enter a bar with 50+ people rocking out and drinking Kiwi beers and whiskey! Or a gym with treadmills and stationary bikes whirring! It’s very disorienting at first.

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Waste is big here. We sort everything, we recycle or reuse everything, and the bins are really colorful.

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Waste sorting area at the end of the hall in my dorm

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SKUA – a scavenging bird that dive-bombs people walking from the cafeteria to the dorms with plates of food – I just heard an account of bird dive-bombing a triple saran-wrapped plate and snapping a sausage right out of the mix! So Skua is also the name of where one man’s trash becomes another man’s treasure. In all the dorms there are Skua bins. These are pics of Skua Central – the free Salvation Army or Goodwill of Mcmurdo. I have scored so much from Skua. 2 sweaters, a pair of alpaca socks, white Dickies pants, many pairs of glove liners, a letter jacket for a friend, expedition weight Patagonia long johns, a Patagonia long-sleeve top, baseball hat, numerous mugs, fabric, saw stamp, the same shampoo I use… it’s great. I check the bin in my dorm daily and score 50% of the time. Love Skua.

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In the bathroom at the end of the hall on the first floor of my dorm. Biowaste bucket and Dwell magazine?! I love this place!

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My dorm hallway and bags of linens outside people’s doors

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Sunset scenes

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Water line

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Pretty snow and reflecting sun on the side of the helo operations building

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My awesome fire fighter buddies daisy chaining beer and booze into one of the bars, Southern, the day before we opened a couple weeks ago. The small brown building in the background is the Gerbil Gym, where all the cardio machines are, the two large brown buildings past that are dorms.

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My insulated Carhartt overalls and the brown carpet that covers most of the floors on station.

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My beeper.

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