Happy Thanksgiving from Antarctica!

Holy hell what a 48 hour span that’s been!!

Friday night was the night before Thanksgiving and, in hindsight, should have been a night I went straight home to bed. But because the AM shift was starting later than usual because there would be no regular breakfast service (only cold stuff) on Saturday morning before the big meal, the cooks on the AM shift asked us all to meet them at Southern for drinks because we rarely ALL get to drink together. So after signing off the last blog post, I headed to the Coffee House for a few hours and eventually made my way to Southern. It should also be pointed out that I was wearing my truly awesome MIT t-shirt that day which has been garnering some looks and questions from those who couldn’t figure it out. The result was that at the bar, we engaged in a little maths and science lecture to explain it.

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Then, we decided to head over to Gallagher’s (the other bar) to hear the 80’s cover band that was supposed to be playing that night. There, I ran into my favorite Irish physicist (that I only know one is neither here nor there) and I gave the rest of his team some good tips on how to annoy him…mainly playing Jedward over and over at top volume. I’m a good friend, so I am. They tried to persuade me to stay for “just one more” but, having some experience with what that means when an Irishman says that (eh, Darragh?), I headed home to try and get enough sleep to get me through the next day.

I rolled into work at about 0630 the next morning. Sarah was already there cranking the tunes and we set to work. Kevin had put together an incredible schedule and I have to say everything went tremendously smoothly. Surprising to everyone was that we had a new galley crewmember join the team that day. Russ confirmed that the new prep cook, Liz, would be assigned to us in the Salad Room once our schedule returned to normal. So she helped out all over the kitchen while the rest of us took care of our prep lists for dinner that night and helped set up the galley.

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At a few minutes before 1000, Sarah came up to me and told me to grab my camera and follow her to the loading dock, where I grabbed a picture of this skua who was investigating our garbage. She grabbed my arm and said, “No, not the skua! THAT!” just in time for me to see the 5k Turkey Trot runners go by. Much to our surprise, the skua chose that EXACT moment to attempt to cross the road. I think it made it through in one piece, albeit a little dazed after bouncing off the legs of a couple runners. We couldn’t quite believe we saw what we saw AND I (sort of) managed to capture it on camera!

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At 1330, the entire staff of GSC – so all the cooks, recreation, housing, DAs and janitors, etc – sat down to dinner together. I actually really liked the communal dining – it doesn’t happen usually since we’re all on different schedules so it was a nice way to mark a special occasion.

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However, it was also the only part of the schedule that didn’t make very good sense to me, seeing as how after a glorious meal where we were even given small cups of champagne or wine to toast with, we were then expected to go back to work for a half dozen more hours. But really, there was no other way to ensure that we got our dinner too, so I understand why they had to do it that way. The cooks all got a round of applause and we had a special standing ovation for Russell who’d been working his ass off for this. He of course turned bright red and got a little teary.

Then we all rallied with our bloated stomachs and busted out three seatings for over 900 people – at 1530, at 1730, and at 1930. Just before the 1530 seating, Sarah asked if it was cool if she went home to change because she was going to be eating that seating with the firefighters. I told her that honestly, we all had everything under control and she had worked so hard the day before (on my day off) and gotten there so early that day, I saw no reason she couldn’t just go home and start her day off (Sunday) a little early. Fortunately Russell agreed with me so I was very glad to see her get a little break for all her hard work.

The menu, for those that are curious, was amazing:

  • Oven-roasted turkey breast
  • Sausage and apple stuffing
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Turkey gravy
  • Sweet potato pie
  • Green bean casserole
  • King crab legs with drawn butter
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Jellied whole cranberries
  • Jalapeno peach cranberry sauce
  • Mint apple sage cranberry sauce
  • Carving station: deep-fried whole turkeys
  • Honey squash and tempeh strudel
  • Tofu stuffed bell peppers
  • Roasted asparagus
  • Vegetarian stuffing
  • Vegetarian gravy

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There was also an incredible array of desserts – pumpkin pie, pecan pie, apple pie, orange cranberry panna cotta, and fudge.

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It was pretty freaking amazing to think that 14 people put out that much food and enough of it for 900 people+ (the Kiwi base came over too).

After each seating, the staff was called out to be thanked by all the diners, which was nice but got a little embarrassing for all of us, though it was particularly so for Russell as each time we made him take a step forward on his own. It was kind of fun to watch him turn beet red at the applause but he really busted his ass for this.

By the 1930 seating, I was pretty exhausted and going into my 14th hour of work so once I made sure everything was set and there were plenty of vegetarian entrées and salad put aside for the Midrats dinner, I headed out, just escaping the last round of applause. That night, there was supposed to be a huge party in the Big Gym called Freezing Man – Antarctica’s answer to Burning Man – and my friends were trying to persuade me to go. I said I’d go home, take a shower, and see how I felt after that.

Well, when I got home, my roommate was on the phone. I wanted to talk to her before I jumped in the shower but I really needed to just lie down and stretch my back after being on my feet for 14 hours. Unfortunately, my bed was covered in all the clean laundry I had just done but not had time to fold. So I lay down on the floor. When I heard my roommate get off the phone about 5 minutes later, I rolled over and got up and asked her how she thought dinner went. Her response was to say “Oh thank god, I was about to call Medical and tell them that my roommate was unconscious on the floor but hadn’t been drinking!” Apparently I’d been out for about 30 to 40 minutes!! So I decided maybe…just maybe I should give Freezing Man a skip and go to bed. Which is exactly what I did, not even bothering to fold my laundry first – I just slid in underneath all the clean clothes and was almost immediately asleep.

Today, Sunday, has been amazingly and blissfully quiet. I’ve gotten to know Liz a bit today and take her through what her job will involve. She doesn’t have much kitchen experience of which to speak and lacks any sense of urgency so we’ll see how that goes. I know I’m not the best teacher so hopefully Sarah will do better with her.

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2 responses to “Happy Thanksgiving from Antarctica!

  1. LOVE the assorted food pics! If you have time after the holiday craziness, would kind of love seeing a blog post of what you decided to pack in your knife bag. If you tell me, I’ll tell you!

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