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Recipes From Antarctica
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? 

Freshly baked Antarctic breadMost 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 Antarctic winter.

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 Antarctica.

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 make hoosh.

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, though you need to go without for at least 6 months beforehand to get the real experience.
 
I Wanted 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 other alternatives.

150g flour
˝tsp baking soda
˝tsp salt
30g full fat unsalted butter
50ml cold water

Eat with butter, marmite, tinned cheese, or with pemmican in a stew to make hoosh.

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).


South Pole, "Race around the World" Recipe

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 longitude.

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.

Pemmican Recipe

1. Dehydrate 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.

2. Grind 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.

3. Prepare 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.

 4. 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.

5. Mould 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.



Another 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.

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