From the 2012-2013 season; Katie Joy cooking.
Before anyone gets uppity about the title, I’m allowed to use the word “Fixins” by right of birth- my father was born in the hills of Tennessee.
The field team is scrambling to get 100 things done today- tomorrow (tuesday our time, wednesday your time) they hope to start flying from McMurdo to the CTAM site, the staging site from where they will fly by small plane up to the Miller Range. Their cargo is in “the system”, which means it’s been labelled, cross-referenced and put in the hands of McMurdo’s cargo handlers, who will get it turned into pallets and strapped down inside the belly of the LC-130′s.
The inspiration for this post came when Jani “CC’ed” me a short email aimed at a contractor in the Berg Field Center, that reads…..
“This is the combined frozen food list for the Harvey meteorite group, G-058, for the 13-14 season. The vegetables are the most uncertain here because I’m not sure we know if we pulled the small vs large bags. Let me know if you have questions, I can come by. Thanks! ”
That list is attached below. But as I looked it over I realize that many readers of our blog might not fully appreciate ANSMET’s relationship to food, and I’d like to elaborate.
First on the list is our need for fuel for our bodies. ANSMET field teams typically spend around 42 days in the field with no guarantee of resupply, which with 8 people means about a thousand meals. And they’re big meals, typically- with high levels of exertion (simply fighting against your clothes takes energy) and high caloric needs to fight the cold, it isn’t unusual for people to take in 2x what they might normally eat at home. We also need to add extra food as a safety margin, anticipating delays in getting out of the field, people that are hungrier than planned or develop a serious distaste for something (like the year we found our 20+ lbs of seafood rancid, having somehow been previously thawed). It is not unusual for an ANSMET field team of 8 to take 4000 lbs of food into the field.
Second, Food is a major source of entertainment- maybe the biggest. USAP understands this, and provides us with enough variety of ingredients that we can pick and choose a menu that suits even the pickiest people. Of course, everything we take into the field is either dry or frozen, which means some things just don’t work (like mayonnaise and egg nog). And many high-turnover items (like hot cocoa mix) are going to be generic brands. With the need for calories and some fun, meals are a topic of discussion that never gets old. In most of the field parties I’ve been a part of, social dinners of 3,4, 6 or even all 8 of us are pretty common and always fun.
Finally, food is a lot of work. While in McMurdo the field team might spend hours planning meals, and many more hours gathering and packing food for shipment. Once we’re in the field, the first step in food preparation is the conversion of ice into liquid water. We are camped out on the world’s largest and purest fresh water source, but turning that ice into the 6-8 liters of liquid we each go through each day takes time, from gathering fresh chips to melting it on the stove. Add in the time it takes to find that bag of frozen carrots, chop up frozen protein, boil pasta or fricassee your grilled-cheese sammich, and we might spend 3-4 hours in some form of cooking every day. The time cost of making liquid water is so high that very little of it is used for washing ourselves or our dishes; most water is conserved for consumption, and folks learn quickly not to cook things that need 3 pots or rinsing or discarding water. Most vets are pretty savvy at one-pot meals; stews and chowders and such where everything ends up in the container it’s cooked in. On rare occassions someone will get inspired, step out of this mold and do something spectacular, like roast a turkey or bake cookies. Those people are King of the Camp for at least a day, especially when they share, which they always do.
Jani’s frozen food list for the whole team.
-posted by Ralph from Cleveland, OH