Food review in the field

Our self-made popcorn in the metal bucket. It worked surprisingly well.

Brian preparing to make popcorn for us.

Being in Antarctica with no smells around you what so ever does funny things to your tastebuds. Or maybe it is the cold and your body simply needs different nutritions. Or it is a combination of both or neither. But in any case, things that seemed utterly disgusting at home suddenly seem like the best foods on Earth. With one exception: oatmeal!! I tried oatmeal plain, with flavors, with nuts and dried fruit, with raspberry jam, with peanut butter, with hot chocolate powder mixed into it, with German chocolate sprinkles, and any combination of those. Still disgusting. So I’m leaving oatmeal to Barb who is a real champ for eating it (she does like it though). But other foods are delightful. Toast soaked in butter, Pringles with a piece of chocolate wedged in between (called a Pringles sandwich), Pringles with raspberry jam, honey or peanut butter spread on top, crackers with honey and pesto topped with NZ Tasty cheese, hot chocolate with a piece of butter melted into it, plain peanut butter (which I didn’t like much before I came here but now I think it is so tasty), popcorn with lots if butter (made in a big metal bucket), and canned fruit -the best thing ever. I was never a friend of canned fruit before but holy moly if you can’t have fresh fruit, frozen canned fruit is the best thing next to chocolate! So good! Another good thing about canned fruit is that you can use them as legs for your self made shelf in the tent but most importantly, they are great as foam rollers to roll out your sore back muscles. Granted there is not really much space in the tent but it is totally possible to do if you put your upper back on the floor at the tent entrance and the lower part of your body plus legs on your (or your tent mates) sleeping side. I did that quite a few days in the beginning until my back muscles got used to the stress and strain of searching and recovering meteorites on a skidoo. I use muscles that I didn’t even knew existed. So, canned fruit are awesome! For lunch in the field all we eat is frozen stuff: frozen meat sticks, frozen beef jerky, frozen sandwiches, lots of snacks like Pringles, chocolate bars, crackers, and since our resupply mission tons and tons of peanut m&ms, frozen chewy candy, and hard candy. We also tried granola and nutrition bars. Here is our review of those (if you want to try this at home, buy a bunch of different granola and nutrition bars, let them age for about 10 years, then put them in a freezer for a week and then try to eat them): Luna bars: under normal circumstance great but here in Antarctica not so much. Frozen they are really hard and it is almost next to impossible to bite a piece off. If you have strong jaw muscles it is totally possible though. Cliff bars: great if you want to kill your tent mate. Seriously, they are hard like a brick. Totally uneatable but great for throwing at people. Crunchy Granola bars are ok, they don’t contain much moisture so they don’t really freeze. I’m just not a big fan. Bumper bars: they freeze too but crumble when trying to bite into them so they are eatable and actually taste fine even when frozen. Unfortunately these may only be available in New Zealand. Pro Bars: They freeze and are hard to bite and chew. The best thing about them is that one ProBar is worth 350 calories which means body heat!! Dinners are great and my favorite. We eat really well here. Granted most of our food is expired, in fact we have a game going on to find out which food item is expired the most. We have bread that expired in 2011, our juice boxes were due in 2015, so are our cookies (nutter butter), the butter, and our turkey lunch meat, our cliff bars are like 10 years old, and the dehy black beans were from 1995 (but on the package it promised they would good through 2018). Some of the candy bars and hard candy are so old that the expiration age has faded to be unrecognizable. But Antarctica is a gigantic freezer so nothing really goes bad. All the food is in a deep freeze (and has been since it was purchased however many years ago) until we thaw it inside our tent or put it frozen directly into a cooking pan or pot. So it is all good. Our recipes are simple but things taste so good here no matter what. We make curry with frozen coconut milk, frozen shrimp and chicken, frozen stir fry veggies and frozen curry paste. Soooo good. Other good recipes are tuna noodles, beef or chicken stir fry with veggies, pan-fried salmon with rice and veggies, quesadilla with lots and lots and lots of cheese (and meat if you’re me or green chile if you’re Barb), beef and bean burritos, lots of tater tots (potato thingies) with garlic salt, tortellini with pesto and green peas, halibut fish curry, and many more yummy variations of all these. Every meal starts with getting ice and snow for cooking and trying to thaw some of the ingredients out until we get too impatient and hungry. Then we just throw everything into a pot and cook it until its done. I do that a lot because I lose my patience quicker because I’m just so hungry, but Barb is great at cooking!! I love when she makes food for us. She is really good with spices too, my repertoire consists of garlic salt. Anyways, in the normal world our cooking would be good for 4-5 people, here it is just enough for the us two. I feel like we are constantly eating and snacking and yet I’m so hungry when we come back to the tents from the field. And that’s one of the many awesome things about Antarctica, you get to stuff your face with all sorts of goodies and don’t have to feel guilty about it. Not that we would in the first place. Here’s a poem Barb wrote about the root beer barrels (a hard candy) that Ralph likes but that she took into the field (with apologies to William Carlos Williams, and a shoutout to Chris Cokinos):

This is just to say,
I ate the root beer barrels that were in the cage
And which
You were probably saving for next season.
Forgive me
They were so sweet and so expired.

That’s it for now, we are off to bed, tomorrow is another exciting new day and who knows what culinary adventures will await us then. Good night everyone!

-Juliane, Mt Cecily, Antarctica, Jan. 11, 11pm.

Note from the editor:    Barb sent me that poem the first day they got into the field;  clearly she felt guilty, but not shameful enough to forego the evil deed.   I forgave her completely in return for the poem.  Root beer barrels were never meant to be hoarded. And yes,  they were so very expired (if sugar can really expire).