Oceano - Log Day 3 - Cooking
Cooking on board is an adventure. I fell in love with all things culinary when I was delegated to prepare a meal for the entire crew for the first time. It was also my very first time on sea and my very first Atlantic crossing ( not in ARC though, just following the rally’s tail). Before, for years, I have always dismissed cooking as an activity too banal and boring to learn.
But then, suddenly, cooking was all about creating festive dishes out of limited ingredients while moving through a storm in a significantly tilted kitchen. You had to use your wits, your recipes had to be based on intuition and calculations of crew’s stomach capacities and their cravings of the moment and the weather forecast. It required gymnastic and sometimes even yoga skills, especially when you decided it is a wise idea to cook a three course meal while moving through a very bumpy set of squalls.
In other words it wasn’t like my mum’s cooking that I associated with patriarchal traditions and daily routines she found no pleasure in. It was a challange and an art, hell on foils, a sailing circus performance with no guarantee that the meal will arrive safely to the hungry sailor, because you had to master the balancing skills to excellence.
I was hooked instantly.
I became a home cook and a foodie afterwards and it stayed that ways, but it is cooking on boat that always bring out the most creative, devoted and stubborn chef in me. I feel like a magician, meals become magic tricks, stories, anecdotes.
And I don’t want any greasy spoon cafeteria stuff, no canned goods. I want it to be entertaining, healthy, tasty. Through the years of sailing on different yachts we have made with the crews: a pavlova, birthday cake with chocolate filling, many pizzas, risottos, loaves of bread and banana bread, we had days inspired by different culinary cultures, we had marvelous fuck ups with caponatas landing on the ceiling and pasta flying all over, we had feasts, celebrations, brushes, lunches, midnight snacks and friendly rivalries between watches and cooks.
The food is most important thing on a long ocean crossing like an ARC Rally because it makes you remember how great is to prepare a delicious meal, see people gather around the table, talk, laugh snd eat with delight. We often don’t have time for that on land anymore.
And we relish this pleasure on a boat as much as we relish staring the sea all day. Our senses are sharpened, our bodies feel alive, our imagination is free from daily burdens. We want to feel, taste, we want to appreciate. For me the boat restaurant is always the best one, most surprising, filled with conversations, with the best view and millions of stars ( above) way better that any Michelin’s erzac. I know that mother’s usually warned the children - don’t play with the food but you feel compelled to do it. And it makes you feel childishly joyful.
Apart from all that it educates you about zero waste cooking and makes you realize that you don’t need all this stuff that consumerist culture wants you to buy. You start to understand your real needs, a fact that the conversation over the table and togetherness is sometimes the perfect spice, the only luxury that you need. In search for the ecstatic experience people pay lots of euros in a fancy restaurant for conceptual food that they don’t understand. On the boat in the middle of the blue you have unforgettable pleasure on a simple plastic plate. And that is the very essence of what culinary experience is - nourishing the body and the heart. You just need your imagination, a bit of boldness and a little help from your friends.