Food from the Deep South
Ok, fess up time, I have you here under
false pretenses, there aren't really any
recipes from Antarctica. It isn't populated
except by visitors who stay for a few
months or not usually more than a year,
there are no farms, nothing vegetable that
you can eat grows there and the wildlife is
protected so you can't eat that.
There aren't any recipes that are passed
down from one generation to the next, there
are no celebrity chefs, no restaurants you
can turn up to eat at and no sources of
foodstuff to buy.It wasn't always like
this as the expeditioner in the photo to the
left shows tucking into a bumper sized boiled egg
provided by a Giant Petrel in the 1960's.
Despite this lack of anything resembling an
Antarctican cuisine I present some suggestions that
I hope you will decide have not made your
visit here worthless.
Are there any
typical Antarctican recipes?
people in Antarctica are on national bases,
they eat food that is shipped in from their
own country and also bought at ports en
route. All food is shipped in and prepared
by qualified cooks/chefs in modern kitchens
with modern cooking equipment. For much of
the year it is preserved, though fresh fruit
and vegetables are available when ships or
aircraft arrive from beyond Antarctica. Some
bases have hydroponic growing systems to
provide a small supply of fresh vegetables
and herbs grown under lights in the dark
Having spent two continuous years in
Antarctica in the mid 1980's over two winters
and three summers I can say there are a
small number of foods/recipes that represent
1 - Freshly baked
bread. With no other fresh foodstuff
regularly available, this already fabulous
food attains new heights. A particular joy
of being on night-watch is to bake a days
worth of bread for the whole base, a
recommended way of gaining kudos with your
fellow base members when they wake up for
breakfast. This has been the case for over a
hundred years and continues to this day. If
you are particularly thoughtful you could
stretch to croissants or brioche, though
these take more practice (and a shocking
amount of butter for the croissants if
you've never made them before).
2 - Sledging biscuit.
A fabled Antarctic food though not one you
would choose to eat if there is an
alternative (see fresh baked bead above).
The advantage of sledging biscuit is that it
is compact, physically resilient, high in
energy and stays edible for a long, long
time. It is a part of the staple diet when
away from base when hunger from activity and
the open air make it especially delicious.
It is a simple hard biscuit that can be
spread with butter and any other available
toppings such as marmite, cheese etc. or be
crumbled up with meat-bar/pemmican and water
to make hoosh.
3 - Pemmican or
meat-bar. From the earliest days of
Antarctica, pemmican has stood alongside the
sledging biscuit as the fuel that powered
exploration. Originally a native American
food (Cree apparently), the exact recipe varies enormously, it
is a food that is compact, physically
resilient, high in energy and stays edible
for a long, long time (sounds like something
else?). It is a low water food that is a
mixture of dried meat and fat, it can be eaten as
it is or mixed with biscuit and water to
4 - Fresh vegetables.
Ask anyone who has been to Antarctica other
than just for a short period of months and
they will tell you that one of the strongest
food memories is of fresh vegetables
arriving after months without. You wouldn't
believe how delicious a simple boiled carrot
or potato can taste. You could try it in
isolation to see. I think fresh veg simply
prepared is a true taste of Antarctica,
need to go without for at least 6 months beforehand
to get the real experience.
Recipes not Stories
Sledging Biscuits Recipe
Plain biscuits, high in energy,
bland enough to be inoffensive to
anyone, but not actually nice enough
to be eaten by choice when there's
˝tsp baking soda
30g full fat unsalted butter
50ml cold water
butter, marmite, tinned cheese, or
with pemmican in a stew to make
Antarctic Food Chain Recipe
Green rice (phytoplankton) + red rice (zooplankton) +
prawns (krill) + squid (squid). With
a sweet chilli sauce to give
it flavour and make it especially
tasty (the sweet chilli sauce
doesn't represent anything).
"Race around the
In honour of the Amundsen-Scott,
South Pole Base annual Christmas
tradition on the 25th of December,
there is a race three times around
the world through all lines of
This version is a fresh fruit race
around a meringue South Pole with a
pool of fresh cream around it and
dusted with icing sugar snow.
strips of raw red meat on a very low heat in the oven. About
2-6lbs for a batch. Slice it for you as thinly
as possible. It should be completely dry but not cooked. If
it cooks, it will taste gritty when finished.
the dehydrated strips up. The Native Americans pounded them with rocks,
but a food processor is probably more acceptable in the modern
kitchen. Spices or berries can be added at this time.
the tallow (for binding it all together) by rendering animal
fat. Melt strips of beef fat (possibly free from the butchers
- ("you want to do what with it?!!") in a frying pan on a low
heat until the rinds float to the surface (throw them away -
maybe in the direction of the dog or bird table). Carry on heating the resulting
tallow until all moisture is removed. It is very important to
remove all water from the fat to prevent it going rancid (yuck).
Proper tallow can be made from beef fat (suet is best) or lamb
fat but not from pork fat as this won't set hard enough when
cool. Tallow when cold looks like candle wax in colour and consistency.
When the resulting tallow is cold enough to touch but still
liquid, add it slowly to the meat powder mixing thoroughly,
until all of it is just saturated. This is about a 60:40 meat:tallow
ratio by weight.
the finished product into tins or whatever - manly bone shapes
or gingerbread men moulds etc. When it hardens you've finished.
Store in a dry place.
I haven't made
this yet, I'll take photos and write
about it here when I do.
image from the 1960's when Antarctica did
have a sort-of cuisine or at least
wild-foods that weren't illegal to eat as
they are today.
Penguin and other birds eggs were collected
in the summer months (no more than one egg
from each nest, they usually lay two) and
stored for use in the winter.