Port Lockroy blog #6 'Ready, steady, cook at Port Lockroy'

13/12/2022

A question that seems to intrigue a lot of people is what we eat down here at Port Lockroy, and the answer might come as a surprise to some! Images of spam and tins of baked beans might come to mind, but in actual fact we have been eating very well. Gone are the days of ‘pemmican’ and ‘meat bars’ that past teams used to eat.

Our primary food supply consists of tins of fruit, vegetables, beans and pulses, as well as dried foods, such as pasta, rice, oats and cereal. These are sent down from the UKAHT headquarters in Cambridge via the Falkland Islands in four instalments throughout the season. This year, the team arrived at Port Lockroy two weeks before the first food drop, so were initially reliant on stores leftover by previous teams. Thankfully they had generously left us a healthy supply of chocolate and biscuits, alongside the other staples!

We keep a selection of food with us in the pantry of the Nissen hut (our home) for day-to-day use. When we start to run low, instead of popping down to the local supermarket, we gather our bags and go down to the Boat Shed, where the bulk of our food is stored.

Alongside these staples, our food supply is regularly supplemented with fresh food by the cruise ships that bring visitors to the island. This includes fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, yoghurt, eggs, lots of cheese, and much to the teams delight, pancakes and French pastries! This has happened much more regularly than we expected, so we’ve barely been a day without fresh food of some sort. Several of the ships have also invited the team on board for lunch or dinner, including buffets and barbeques (yes, a barbeque in Antarctica!). We’re very grateful to all of those that have generously provided fresh food and hot meals so far. Thank you!

With three quarters of this year’s team being vegetarian, the menu might look a little different to other years, so we thought we’d give some examples of what we’ve been eating so far.

Breakfast

Usually we have porridge with tinned fruit if we have no fresh supplies, but recently we’ve been having granola with yoghurt and fresh fruit for breakfast. When we don’t have pancakes, croissants or pain au chocolate that is!

Lunch

Lunch varies depending on how busy our schedule is for the day. We often have soup with bread or crackers and cheese, pesto pasta, or frittata. Lucy managed to whip us up some savoury pancakes with pesto and pine nuts one day, which went down very well. After we were kindly delivered some avocados (thanks Domski), we had toast with avocado and fried eggs. Not a meal that any of us expected to be eating in Antarctica!

Dinner

It’s safe to say the team very much look forward to dinner every day after a busy day of work and being in the cold. Everybody has been making a great effort to cook up inventive meals to warm us up. Dinner has included pasta bakes, Indian and Thai curry, stir fry, fajitas, and a few days the team dubbed the ‘cheese bonanza’ after we were generously donated 7 kilos of cheese. Macaroni cheese and aubergine and cheese bake were some firm favourites.

We’ve been supplementing our meals with a steady supply of chocolate, as well as some baking. So far, we’ve made lemon drizzle cake, chocolate and pear cake, chocolate brownies, and a few crumbles. When you think of us down here in the coldest continent, know that we’re kept warm by full stomachs of delicious, and surprisingly varied, food.

Mairi