In almost every home the kitchen is the gathering place and on station, the mess is no exception to this rule.
At Mawson the kitchen is Gav’s domain but he is very generous with his space and happily shares his knowledge, or lets us potter around when we need a cooking fix. There are a huge variety of dishes that come out of the station kitchen and the chef makes everything from fresh bread to five star restaurant quality meals.
To help out with the daily food extravaganza, someone is rostered on as ‘slushy’ every day. This means you spend the day being the kitchen hand, wiping down tables, cleaning the bar, mopping floors and washing up. The bonus to being slushy is that you get to pick the music for the day. Slushy radio is then ‘broadcast’ across the station so that people can share their musical tastes with everyone!
On a weekday everyone has a routine. Some people only come to smoko, some people only lunch and some both! But every night most people come to dinner, it’s a chance to check in with everyone, talk about the day or just have some company while you read the paper.
Every second Saturday we have a more formal dinner where we set the table and put on our neat casual outfits as opposed to track pants, and every Saturday we have brunch at 11 am. Brunch is my favourite meal of the week: nothing can really top bacon, eggs and mushrooms!
Some of the most common questions that I get asked about living in Antarctica relate to food. How do you get it? What sort of food do you eat? Do you ever run out?
How do we get food?
There are a few ways that we get food, the first is via resupply once a year. This is when the majority of our food arrives, all the dry goods, chocolate, tinned fruits, frozen veg, meat and everything that you would buy at the supermarket. In this resupply we also get fruit like oranges and apples, root vegies and cabbages. We still have cabbages, potatoes, carrots and apples from February’s resupply.
We also have a hydroponics shed, this has proved a huge bonus and has been providing us with lettuce, tomatoes, snow peas, kale and lots of fresh herbs.
What sort of food do we eat?
Every station is different because our chefs all have their own style, but there are three important meals a day.
- Smoko — a hot mid morning snack. Think sausage rolls, mini pizza, quiche.
- Lunch – salads, pasta, soup and fresh bread
- Dinner – a couple of mains, vegies and dessert.
So far our dinners have covered a variety of different styles ranging from Japanese, Chinese, French, Italian, Indian and modern Australian. Gav is a miracle worker in the kitchen, even a lack of fresh produce doesn’t slow him down.
Do we ever run out of food?
No, we have enough food to last many years. Although we may get sick of dehydrated meat and veg fairly quickly we definitely would not starve! We also have food stashed in lots of different places all over the station in case there is a disaster like a fire or flood in a food storage area.