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Ask A Chef Anything
#51
(08-14-2015, 06:26 PM)Wongtastic Wrote: Opinions on "The Ramen Girl"?

Also, thanks for the list, proud to say that I've seen 1/3rd of it already.

I will watch it and get back to you. From the trailer alone...I can't tell how much weight they will give to the food and the craft, but it looks as though they're using it as a backdrop for an otherwise fairly straightforward chick flick, which doesn't usually bode well for the truth of that backdrop. We'll see, hm?


Quote:
Wombitch Wrote: Wrote:and then when Remy dies in eight months and the restaurant suddenly runs off the edge of a cliff because Linguini himself can't cook worth a damn, her professional reputation is gone) I quite enjoy it.

But this is magical Disney world, so he will live to be 50, right? =/
Btw, that's a very analytical way to look at a cartoon.  I'm impressed.  And *I* always get poked at amongst my friends for being analytical as hell.  Look how often I get trolled here.

This is like what you do when you see military films, that's all.  Having spent half of my life in that world, by those rules, I have a certain amount of real world knowledge that gets in the way of suspending disbelief. Tongue

Women are rare in the trade still, and are judged EXTREMELY harshly for any perceived involvement with their workmates. Linguini could get away with it because Linguini is the golden boy by the end of the film, but Colette would not...and when Remy dies, she will inevitably have to go to a new kitchen with that reputation trailing after her, the same as an alcoholic or a troublemaker would. No matter how good she is, no matter how professional she is, every female cook ever has been accused of earning her place on her back or her knees; even if we never lay so much as a finger on any workmate, we still hear it as though we did, and the fact that Colette genuinely DID work under her boyfriend's command for a time would make that old chestnut stick to her very firmly indeed. As for Linguini...he's a terrible cook with no sense of how to manage a busy kitchen. He's entered an exceptionally cutthroat industry (most restaurants fail within a year, and of those that don't relatively few make it as far as three) that demands a set of skills he doesn't possess, and he has put himself right at the top where the pressure is most extreme. He NEEDS Remy to do it for him, and Remy is a rodent with a three year lifespan at most. They're all fucked.


Quote:
Quote: Wrote:In a simplified, child-friendly way, it gets a lot of things right. I laugh every single time I see this scene, because everything in it has really happened!

Wait, so you guys have seriously shelled peas by hand?  That's way too much time, and thus overhead being wasted.  I'm sure there's very fresh shelled peas readily available, right?  I laughed at that scene, because I honestly believed it was possible that top-rated restaurants would actually do that.

Yes, sometimes. Peas have a very brief season at their peak, so for most of the year frozen pre-shelled peas are the best you can do, and depending on the dish it may or may not matter. However, the texture and flavour of really fresh shelled peas at that peak is still noticeably different to the frozen kind, and if for those few weeks you have something on the menu that really focuses on peas as a seasonal highlight (which at their best they absolutely are!) then someone is going to have to make the effort. Some dishes let you cut corners, some demand nothing less than the real deal.

We spend more time doing prep work like that than we do cooking orders that come in. A dinner rush is three to five hours long at most, right...but we're there for twelve to fifteen at least, so what are we doing for the other nine? There are so many precise little tasks like that that have to be done in advance of the patrons coming in (when the kitchen is taking orders, you no longer have any time for prep) and most of them are done by hand. A bucket of peas or fava beans and a bird's-beak knife is a very familiar sight for an apprentice in the right season! If not peas, you may be deveining prawns, or dicing shallots (the kitchen will go through about ten kilos of shallots that night) or grating chocolate, or peeling and parboiling root vegetables so they cook more quickly when they're actually called for and a customer is waiting, or sifting seventy pounds of flour. A HUGE amount of what any chef does (especially juniors, as Colette and Linguini both are - she is fully trained and he is not, but she would not be babysitting him so closely unless she was training him to take her old place) is monotonous work just like that, the thousand thousand little things that must be done just so. Do onions make you cry? Go and mince two hundred of them perfectly, and then come to see me when you're done.

Depending on the kitchen they will take shortcuts where they can (for example, almost no one can be bothered with true puff pastry from scratch because it' takes half a day and is a gigantic pain in the ass; "rough puff" or good quality premade is more common) but there's always something deathly boring to inflict on the children for three hours Tongue Peas happens to be a fairly common one, and one that's not hard to show quickly and have everyone who sees the film immediately understand what's being done. Actual chefs would be much faster, but the movements are the same.


Quote:
Quote: Wrote:I did genuinely enjoy Julie & Julia, but I liked it much more when I saw an edited cut with no Julie. Why there is no film that's exclusively 100% Julia Child being amazing, I will never know.

So the world (and dare I say, the French) actively enjoy an American chef like the "French Chef" Julia Childs?  [Image: wink.png] I know she lived in France, and received a lot of training there and all that.

Honestly, I thought she was French born back in the day.  Btw, i know it's just "Child", but people from my region of the U.S. tend to pluralize the hell out of everything.  Fords, Meijers, etc.  I did that on accident, then just left it in.

She's regarded with a great deal of respect. Her whole approach, the concept of relatable and approachable classic food and the joy she so obviously took in it...that's a profound early influence on many of the people in the trade today (even people who don't follow the French canon) and from the perspective of women in particular, she's incredibly important - at the time she did it no other woman had, and women weren't even permitted in. She made it possible for all of us.

I know I would probably not be doing what I do without her. Merci Madame.

(I'm completely serious, she would make a great film subject. Even without the cooking, she had a fascinating life. The spy-work alone...)
A penis lives a terrible life. His hair is a mess, his family are nuts, his neighbour is an asshole, his best friend is a pussy, someone keeps beating him...

Poor thing.
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#52
(08-14-2015, 06:06 PM)Wombitch Wrote:
(08-14-2015, 04:54 PM)Coal Dragger Wrote: I have questions about preparation of wild game. Basically from the moment the animal is field dressed to when the meat hits the plate. I am pretty much clueless, and the results show it.

What are you hunting? Duck? Deer? Pig?

Deer, antelope, and some waterfowl like duck. Geese are so nasty I will not shoot them. 
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#53
(08-14-2015, 09:24 PM)Coal Dragger Wrote:
(08-14-2015, 06:06 PM)Wombitch Wrote:
(08-14-2015, 04:54 PM)Coal Dragger Wrote: I have questions about preparation of wild game. Basically from the moment the animal is field dressed to when the meat hits the plate. I am pretty much clueless, and the results show it.

What are you hunting? Duck? Deer? Pig?

Deer, antelope, and some waterfowl like duck. Geese are so nasty I will not shoot them. 

Pick a species. I'll give you butchery instructions for it as far as I can without a real carcass to demonstrate on (it's hard to show someone what to do when they can't sit beside me and watch, but we can try), and we can come up with some ideas for the meat?

Duck first, or venison?
A penis lives a terrible life. His hair is a mess, his family are nuts, his neighbour is an asshole, his best friend is a pussy, someone keeps beating him...

Poor thing.
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#54
We'll go for antelope, which is basically a member of the goat family. The hunting season is usually pretty warm outside, so my goal is usually to get the animal dressed out and cooled down ASAP. Unfortunately last year I had to travel the day after I harvested my antelope so it went strait to the freezer before it could go through rigor mortise. I have been told by guys that really like to eat them to get a big cooler full of ice and water and salt to immediately (in the field) bone out the animal after gutting and skinning, and then put all the meat in this cold saltwater solution and tend it for several days allowing the meat to go through rigor mortise, and let the saltwater draw out the gamey flavor of the meat.

Thoughts on this?
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#55
(08-15-2015, 07:30 AM)Coal Dragger Wrote: We'll go for antelope, which is basically a member of the goat family. The hunting season is usually pretty warm outside, so my goal is usually to get the animal dressed out and cooled down ASAP. Unfortunately last year I had to travel the day after I harvested my antelope so it went strait to the freezer before it could go through rigor mortise. I have been told by guys that really like to eat them to get a big cooler full of ice and water and salt to immediately (in the field) bone out the animal after gutting and skinning, and then put all the meat in this cold saltwater solution and tend it for several days allowing the meat to go through rigor mortise, and let the saltwater draw out the gamey flavor of the meat.

Thoughts on this?

1) Field dressing - yes. Done skilfully and thoroughly, dressing in itself can contribute to reducing the gamey profile of meat; most of the gameyness is in the fat and in that silvery membrane that covers the muscles, so the faster you do it and the more you manage to get of that membrane the more subtle the end result will be. Stress also plays a role in flavour, as in all animals; frightened, in pain or stressed animals flood their bodies with adrenaline and have more acidic, tougher meat. I'm not so much a hunter myself (I process the kills that others bring me, or kill domestic livestock like hutch-rabbits) so I'm not going to tell you how to do this, but if you can manage it, it would be worthwhile to work on your marksmanship and the process of the kill itself to minimise the stress. It's not always going to be possible, of course, but a fast kill and fast retrieval with as little pain as possible genuinely does make a noticeable difference to meat. Do what you can to bring him down before he realises anything is wrong.

2)
Cooling ASAP - yes, but with caveats. There are two distinct stages to cooling a carcass properly, pre-rigor and post-rigor. It HAS to be kept cold to be safe, but at the same time meat that is chilled too low too quickly will contract and toughen permanently; this is called "cold shortening", and in a proverbial nutshell it means that the meat still has residual nervous response to cold. Think about what would happen to your muscles (completely involuntarily!) if you fell into icy water, think about the unfortunate shrivel factor that sometimes happens...you get the idea. Pre-rigor chilling should therefore be controlled and gradual if you can - in the case you mentioned where you had to put the meat in the freezer immediately, the whole thing would have been a mess of cold shortening!

Then wait a few hours for rigor to pass. You can do some simple processing before rigor sets in if you want to, and after it's gone you can do as you like, but do NOTHING to it during rigor mortis...it should only take 6-12 hours for rigor to finish for an animal of that size, certainly no more than a day...given that you're hunting in hot weather, it's likely to be less than 24 hours. Post rigor, you can cool it much more and process it however you like.

3) Water - no. Keep meat DRY unless you're going to cook it almost immediately. When you rinse out the body cavity during field dressing, or wash the meat , you need to dry it very well afterwards. Soaking the meat in icy water DOES cool it more quickly (basic physics, chilled liquid has more points of direct contact with the thing it's cooling than solid ice cubes...this is why they chill bottles of champagne with ice AND water in the bucket) but using water on raw meat of any kind is practically begging for bacterial spread (the salt in the water is to draw the blood out of the meat, but imagine leaving that meat sitting in bloody water for hours? Or the main body cavity transferring microbes to the external surface of the meat because tiny water droplets have spread from Point A to Point B? And the ice...you're getting bags of ice from the gas station, do you know for a certainty that those ice trays were completely clean?) and frankly it's not worth the risk of making yourself ill. To chill meat safely in a cooler, l would have a layer of ice at the bottom, then a raised tray above it (a baker's cooling rack with the grille will do) and the meat resting on that tray. The gap between the tray and the ice allows air to circulate evenly all around the meat instead of only on certain exposed surfaces, and having no direct contact between meat and ice prevents possible cross-contamination. You can brine it to cook it later if you wish, but during initial processing and aging over a few days it should be dry.

4) Boning - maybe, personal preference. There are advantages and disadvantages to boning your meat in the field. Bone-out meat tends to be less strongly flavoured, and like the rest of field-dressing doing it quickly will affect how much. Removing the bones also reduces the carrying weight of the meat, which may be important for you as a practical consideration. However, meat with the bone left in is easier to manage during initial chilling and aging.
A penis lives a terrible life. His hair is a mess, his family are nuts, his neighbour is an asshole, his best friend is a pussy, someone keeps beating him...

Poor thing.
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#56
Thanks.
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#57
(08-15-2015, 08:12 PM)Coal Dragger Wrote: Thanks.

No problem. There are a lot of variables that can effect rigor mortis (and thus butchering of the carcass), so be prepared for some variation, but as a rule it would never last more than a day except in very specific conditions and in truth it usually progresses much faster.

Hot weather, for instance, would normally speed things up, where cold would slow it down. As you describe your usual conditions, rigor should pass quite quickly, far quicker than a day. Fat distribution can affect it; fat insulates, and though they do look fairly lean as a rule a well-fed adult in peak condition would still have enough fat reserves to slow progression somewhat compared to a scrawny one. Total muscle mass plays a role too...what's the maximum weight of a healthy buck, a big one? 130-140 pounds before field-dressing, similar in size to a fairly average white-tailed deer? He's going to pass through the stages more slowly than a doe who weighs forty pounds less, and much more slowly than his little brother who's half a baby still. If Little Brother is small enough, rigor may never even present clearly at all; it comes and goes so quickly in carcasses with low muscle mass (regardless of species - forensic investigators looking at human rigor mortis to find time since death don't always see it in small children) that you may not always pick up on it as much as you would expect.

You'll do very well, I think. What is pronghorn like to eat?
A penis lives a terrible life. His hair is a mess, his family are nuts, his neighbour is an asshole, his best friend is a pussy, someone keeps beating him...

Poor thing.
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#58
Largely dependent on diet, stress, butchering/meat handling, and how good of a job you did killing it cleanly.

I've had some that was pretty good, and some that would gag a maggot. Like almost all wild game there is very little fat content especially once the fat and other subcutaneous tissue is removed, so over cooking is always a risk. The tenderloins are small and make nice little 3"-3.5" filets, the rest is usually pretty stringy and tough. Stew/chili meat and jerky is the normal use.

If it has been a dry year where diet has been poor, I think they eat a lot of sage which makes the meat smell and taste awful. Plus an animal with exceptional eye sight and the ability to run 50+ MPH when spooked is usually pumped full of lactic acid and adrenaline all the time during hunting season if he's a good buck. The afternoon I took my pronghorn it was around 80°F which is common, and you see lots of guys hanging them up for a day or two in those temperatures. I know immediately freezing is bad, but pretty sure leaving an animal out during daytime highs in the 80's is also bad. My buddy shot one two days after me and a cold front moved in, he hung his up deer style in 45°-50°F weather (cooler at night) for a day or two and has really enjoyed the meat. Says it's better than deer.
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#59
(08-16-2015, 10:09 AM).Coal Dragger Wrote: Largely dependent on diet, stress, butchering/meat handling, and how good of a job you did killing it cleanly.

I've had some that was pretty good, and some that would gag a maggot. Like almost all wild game there is very little fat content especially once the fat and other subcutaneous tissue is removed, so over cooking is always a risk. The tenderloins are small and make nice little 3"-3.5" filets, the rest is usually pretty stringy and tough. Stew/chili meat and jerky is the normal use.l

If it has been a dry year where diet has been poor, I think they eat a lot of sage which makes the meat smell and taste awful. Plus an animal with exceptional eye sight and the ability to run 50+ MPH when spooked is usually pumped full of lactic acid and adrenaline all the time during hunting season if he's a good buck. The afternoon I took my pronghorn it was around 80°F which is common, and you see lots of guys hanging them up for a day or two in those temperatures. I know immediately freezing is bad, but pretty sure leaving an animal out during daytime highs in the 80's is also bad. My buddy shot one two days after me and a cold front moved in, he hung his up deer style in 45°-50°F weather (cooler at night) for a day or two and has really enjoyed the meat. Says it's better than deer.

Ah, see, you've seen what a difference some of the variables can make already.You didn't need my input at all. Smile

You can't influence diet at all in this case (except possibly by putting better fodder out for them in places you know they come, which would be a pain in the ass) but the other variables are things you do have a little more control over.

Learn their anatomy in depth and polish your marksmanship to consistently pull off the well placed shot; the ideal would be a quick death (a clean heart shot, a neck shot to paralyse it, a head shot for an instant kill if you really think you can) that does as little damage to the meat as possible; you already know damaged meat with a bullet track in it often has to be discarded, and there's little enough meat without taking that away. Head shots and neck shots that sever the spinal column would avoid that waste because you're discarding the head anyway, but they're very small things to aim at and getting it wrong is trouble! Heart and lung shots are more reliable, but even there, even with the skill you already have, a detailed grasp of anatomy would help make it fast and certain. You know what to do.

In dressing, the best thing you can do about gameyness is to bleed the corpse thoroughly (blood degenerates faster than meat, drain it away) and strip back the silverskin and fat as well as you can; precise, careful work to get the connective tissues away without wasting too much meat. A grasp of anatomy helps here too; there is a reason I have books and diagrams about the biology of the animals I process most often! Basically it helps to have knowledgeable control over every factor you can when butchering. Temperature, humidity, the care in the knifework all interconnect to influence the final result.

It may also be worth looking at their habits as living animals. Do you know when antelope bucks go into rut, or how this overlaps with your local hunting season? A lot of game species have a marked difference in flavour between male and female; a male deer, for instance, will have active scent glands and huge hormonal changes throughout the year as he goes into and out of rut, and the smell and taste of his meat changes with him. A stag in full sex-crazed rut is sometimes downright rank to process! Among domestic animals this sometimes happens too; male pigs (especially castrated late) are notorious for their "boar taint", and you may well have seen that sow meat is priced higher? Females change too, but less markedly, and they're almost always less strongly flavoured in general, so if you're working with game species but genuinely looking for something that's reliably milder then you may prefer to stay with the girls and trade less meat on the carcass for a sweeter and gentler palate overall.
A penis lives a terrible life. His hair is a mess, his family are nuts, his neighbour is an asshole, his best friend is a pussy, someone keeps beating him...

Poor thing.
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#60
Our pronghorn antelope season is during the rut, as is deer season. More or less. Weather patterns and temperature seem to have an affect on peak rutting with both species.
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#61
(08-16-2015, 08:31 PM)Coal Dragger Wrote: Our pronghorn antelope season is during the rut, as is deer season. More or less. Weather patterns and temperature seem to have an affect on peak rutting with both species.

Shoot the does rather than the bucks then. Rut is the time when he's easy to hunt because he's not being very cautious, but it's also when a buck will be toughest and have the strongest smell and taste to his meat, because his entire body is flooded with scent gland action and testosterone. He wants to fuck, he wants to fight and he's rank. Some people like the strong flavours, but if you prefer your game milder, with less musky or metallic notes, a female (or a very young male, not breeding that year) is a more predictable choice.
A penis lives a terrible life. His hair is a mess, his family are nuts, his neighbour is an asshole, his best friend is a pussy, someone keeps beating him...

Poor thing.
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#62
While I'm not opposed to harvesting females when the population is strong our last 3 winters have been hard on antelope and deer populations. Mountain lions have been hard on the deer herd as well. I am reluctant to shoot breeding females under those circumstances.

Doesn't matter for deer this year, didn't draw tags at all.
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#63
(08-17-2015, 06:10 AM)Coal Dragger Wrote: While I'm not opposed to harvesting females when the population is strong our last 3 winters have been hard on antelope and deer populations. Mountain lions have been hard on the deer herd as well. I am reluctant to shoot breeding females under those circumstances.

Doesn't matter for deer this year, didn't draw tags at all.

If you will insist on the buck, bleed him well and take extra care on the field-dressing to do what you can about his taste and smell. Some well chosen cooking methods might help as well, once you have the meat safely stored - soaking meat in milk for a time before cooking (the same way you would use a marinade) sometimes helps to soften its profile.

 Alternately, you may not need to soften it. A good strong sauce in itself may help balance the flavours the other way and counter the strength of it with gutsy flavours of its own. Juniper berries, maybe, or chocolate? They both work for deer and elk, they MAY work here on pronghorn. A Cumberland sauce might do; port and red fruit and citrus, mustard and pepper for bite, tart and sweet at once to play with the bitterness of sagebrush that the meat already has...Cumberland sauce IS traditionally paired with game.

Sorry, thinking! Does that help?
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Poor thing.
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#64
Yes it does actually. I'll have to look some of it up, but it does help.
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#65
(08-17-2015, 04:04 PM)Coal Dragger Wrote: Yes it does actually. I'll have to look some of it up, but it does help.

It's surprisingly hard to come up with accompaniments for a meat I've never eaten, but there are some things that work reasonably well on game in general. Cumberland sauce, sauce chasseur (mushrooms, wine reduction, demi-glace...the tradition was for hunters to pick the wild mushrooms for the sauce as they carried their kill home), pontack (elderberries, vinegar, sugar for a syrupy texture and spices)...

Start there, hm? 
A penis lives a terrible life. His hair is a mess, his family are nuts, his neighbour is an asshole, his best friend is a pussy, someone keeps beating him...

Poor thing.
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#66
An interesting article has come to my attention, about the challenges of running a kitchen in isolation. Parts of it ring true for any remote or isolated cook (some of it I can myself remember to a lesser extent from places I've worked), others are very likely Antarctica-specific. I've wanted to work with the Antarctic program for a very long time.



Quote:SKYE MORET,
PALMER STATION, Antarctica—


I feel a bit remorseful as a small group of people bundled in reflective red coats, their feet planted on the snowy ground of Antarctica, wave goodbye to me and my crew, our own feet gripping the icy steel deck of their supply ship. As we steam away, the folks onshore are not just bidding farewell to their last physical connection to the rest of the world for three and a half months, they’re parting with something far more precious: fresh food.

I know how they’re feeling quite well; my own nine seagoing voyages to this vast continent have also afforded isolation and self-reliance, particularly when it comes to eating. We can be on the water for more than six weeks at a time. Aside from supporting Palmer Station, our primary purpose is to facilitate science within the U.S. Antarctic Program. For a few months each year, I sail as the marine science technician, helping to deploy science equipment and manage the laboratories onboard. Our ship, the Laurence M. Gould, often rolls 20 degrees from one side to the other. Food is crucial to our collective sanity. The profusion of chopped meats and vegetables on Taco Tuesday can improve the spirits of an entire ship. Hot dog soup? Not so much.

[Image: hotdog_soup_SHIP.jpg]
Morale-damaging fare: hot dog soup served on the ship after six weeks of no ‘freshies.’ Photo: Courtesy of Skye Moret

Nearly two dozen people spend the better part of May through October at Palmer Station, an isolated U.S. science base in the Southern Ocean—among them marine scientists, carpenters, electricians, and communications technicians. During this period, called midwinter, everyone dines together in Palmer Station’s comfortable dining hall, or “galley,” sitting next to large windows that look out over sea ice and grounded icebergs beyond. A woodstove stands in the corner with broken-up old pallets burning inside, surrounded by a couple of couches and a coffee table with a stack of New York Times crossword puzzles. A dozen small tables fill the rest of the space, many lined up end to end, and red-checkered tablecloths come out for special occasions.

[Image: Buffet_line.jpg]
Buffet line at Palmer Station a couple of months into midwinter with little to no ‘freshies’ left. Photo: Courtesy of Mike Hiller


Mike Hiller is the station chef. Based here for his third winter, he alone is in charge of chopping, cooking, and choreographing the allotment of fresh food—“freshies” down here—as they ripen and discolor with age. For the next 15 weeks, Hiller will have to be beyond resourceful, carefully strategizing which foods are served when in order to ensure proper variety and nutrition in each meal before he receives the next resupply from the Gould.

Hiller, burly, with a thick, red beard, hails from Homer, Alaska. Proud of the fact that he has spent the last seven years working in regions where temperatures never exceed 65 degrees, Hiller honed his culinary talents both in his own kitchens—owning one restaurant and two food trucks—and on remote Alaskan field camps and research vessels. He thrives on the challenge of running a solo kitchen in extreme environments.

“I would challenge you to buy three months of produce at your grocery store … and then not go shopping again for three more months,” he tells me, pointing to 50 large cans of tomatoes stacked in his dry-goods storage room that he’ll transform into roasted tomato bisque, spicy pizza sauce, and black bean chili.
  •    [Image: Blown_sugarpop.jpg]      
    Elaborate desserts created by Palmer Station chef Mike Hiller: a spun sugar pop. Photo by: Courtesy of Mike Hiller

[*]Having spent months at a time living on ships in the Antarctic, I know all too well the threat chefs like Hiller face after weeks with no freshies: the menace of the beige plate. Rice, mashed potatoes, chicken, bread, canned corn—all meals can start to take on the same unappealing color if chefs are not overtly mindful of maintaining variety.


Hiller explains the shelf life of the freshies that come south across the Drake Passage on the Gould. Cucumbers, strawberries, and fresh herbs have just a three-day shelf life at Palmer Station; red romaine lettuce lasts up to five days; cherry tomatoes can last a month with proper refrigeration. Hiller’s strategy is to “serve freshies as long as possible while they’re really fresh.”

The first night the ship pulls into Palmer Station and offloads freshies, tradition dictates what’s called a crosstown dinner, meaning that both the station’s and ship’s crews dine together. Hiller, excited for fresh food and a new audience, creates a glorious spread for the buffet line: grilled fish coupled with a vibrant mango cilantro salsa; avocado salad topped with finely sliced red and green onions with tomato; freshly baked bread; and an apple pie and kiwi tart for dessert. The mango cilantro salsa alone is enough to boost my morale for at least a week.

[Image: PalmerStation_inJunebefore_sea_ice.jpg]
Palmer Station and its supply ship, the Laurence M. Gould, in early winter June. Photo: Courtesy of Skye Moret


Within a few days, however, I’m counting the weeks until I will eat fresh herbs again. A few days more and I am flat out yearning for fresh basil and cilantro, to the point of daydreaming about the fresh produce aisle in the small grocery store at our final portcall in Chile.

Four weeks after the last resupply at Palmer Station, the freshies are gone and Hiller’s job “gets way easier.” With only hard vegetables left—cabbage, potatoes, onions, radishes, carrots—time once spent chopping fruits and vegetables becomes time spent making delectable sauces and, often, elaborate desserts: cannoli rimmed with dark chocolate and crushed pistachio, homemade glazed donuts, and mocha semifreddo served in martini glasses.

[Image: AntarcticCuisine_1024x730px_b.jpg]
Graphic by the GroundTruth Project

“Variety is a sign of bounty,” Hiller says. “When that first shipment comes in and I put out a big, giant display of fruit, the bananas aren’t so interesting and the kiwis aren’t so interesting because those colors are similar to what people wear and see,” he adds. “But the brightness of the lemons and the limes and the oranges and the tangerines and the apples—those colors you don’t really see this time of year … people just stare at it for a while.”

Variation in our daily fare is likewise prized when we’re out at sea. On scientific fishing cruises, Hiller will send the marine crew off with homemade peach granola bars, which we save for the dark hours on watch when we need it most. Occasionally, we trade foodstuffs with other bases as well: Each summer the Gould visits a U.K. base, Rothera, and exchanges a giant crate of peanut butter for a couple thousand bags of black tea. Each time I’ve visited Vernadsky, a Ukrainian base, its crew has gifted us with delicious cured meats and chocolates. On a recent visit to Arctowski, a Polish base, where a handful of people had been on the ice alone for 10 months, we brought them crates of freshies.

[Image: Mocha_semifreddo.jpg]
Mocha semifreddo, one of Hiller’s elaborate desserts. Photo: Courtesy/Mike Hiller

To add some variety, our science support crew makes exotic dishes as well. On the other U.S. Antarctic ship, the Nathaniel B. Palmer, I enjoy making liquid nitrogen–cooled ice cream with our excess supply. Scientists clad in cryogenic gloves and safety glasses stir cream, milk, sugar, and flavoring in large stainless steel bowls while I pour the super-cooled liquid into each, and a midday treat is served.

Until a decade ago, chefs could grow fresh herbs such as cilantro, sprouts, and basil inside Antarctic research stations. The two other U.S. bases, South Pole and McMurdo, still maintain greenhouses today. But because Palmer Station is north of the Antarctic Circle, scientists worry stray seeds from the herbs could potentially grow in the summertime, spreading invasive species on the continent. To eliminate this threat, Palmer Station has banned the practice. Eating native Antarctic animals and plants is also strictly prohibited at all Antarctic bases.

[Image: HotdogSoup_after_SHIP.jpg]
The end of the line: draining the bowl of hot dog soup. Photo: Skye Moret

Regardless of the prohibition on growing fresh food, Hiller exudes a certain reassuring cockiness that can only come from working in other isolated environments, including the North Slope oil fields and the Aleutian Islands of Alaska.

“If I’m feeling pretty creative, I can create a meal just as colorful as the first week freshies are in,” he says. He describes how to make a bright pureed pea soup with a touch of tarragon for “exoticism,” as well as a rich, magenta-colored pasta by infusing it with beet and sunflower seed pesto.

Turning a dearth of aging ingredients into a feast for the eyes takes talent and tenacity. Along with the roughly 1,100 other residents of Antarctica scattered across 41 bases occupied through midwinter, one thing is clear at Palmer Station—morale lies in the chef’s hands.
A penis lives a terrible life. His hair is a mess, his family are nuts, his neighbour is an asshole, his best friend is a pussy, someone keeps beating him...

Poor thing.
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#67
That last line is spot on. I once ate nothing but chow Hall food for 3 months to save money (breakfast lunch dinner even weekends) and found myself seriously contemplating suicide.
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(05-06-2016, 02:33 PM)NSFgirl Wrote: You're a terrible person, wongtastic.
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#68
(08-20-2015, 08:29 AM)Wongtastic Wrote: That last line is spot on.  I once ate nothing but chow Hall food for 3 months to save money (breakfast lunch dinner even weekends) and found myself seriously contemplating suicide.

That bad, hm? Mick complains too! I tell him he's been spoiled Tongue

Military food use genuinely does interest me. It's a fascinating sub-category and a beautiful illustration of why food matters, the power it has.

The thing about food and cooking is that taste is so incredibly, deeply central to memory that food becomes key to cultural context. If you look at what people eat, how they prepare it and the reasons they give for why they do as they do, their internal logic for why a particular food or technique is important in a particular situation says a huge amount - chicken soup for the sick, a whole turkey at Thanksgiving...what are these decisions and why do they survive over years, sometimes decades? The given explanations for why a particular food is taboo or disgusting and should never be touched or eaten by anyone say more. Why some things are only for children (the sugary cereals with the cartoon characters on the box, the entire concept of a separate "children's menu" that differs from the adult offerings in any way but size) or seen as a thing for women (the "girly drinks" section of a cocktail menu?) or coded as particularly masculine (enormous slabs of red meat!)...people tell you considerably more about themselves and what they value than they realise they're saying. You see?


Apply this to a military context, or any self-contained group.

MREs? A beautiful example of food as cultural element, because (while a lot of the decisions about what goes into an MRE are based on practicality as well) the things put in them are chosen at least in part to be familiar and comforting for people in a situation where very little else is familiar, and they vary hugely by country of origin and intended audience. Australian ration packs have vegemite in them, which no one but Australians would want. American ones like you have had might have "chilli mac" (American comfort food par excellence) or shredded barbecue beef (likewise, American regional variations on that theme are fairly unique), jambalaya, Tex-Mex beef and black beans. French ones have cassoulet and pate. The entire concept of a military ration pack is based around giving the people it's intended for a lot of nutrition and a lot of energy in a form they won't refuse to eat...and the easiest way to do that is to give them some attempt (not always a successful attempt, but an attempt nevertheless) at a food they already accept and know from home.

Chowhall food? The same, but less urgent. They set the menus based on what they know they can cook in great quantity but also on what they think they can persuade as many people as possible to eat without bitching...then, of course, bitching happens anyway because the starving multitudes get BORED. Tongue
A penis lives a terrible life. His hair is a mess, his family are nuts, his neighbour is an asshole, his best friend is a pussy, someone keeps beating him...

Poor thing.
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#69
https://tymbussanich.wordpress.com/2015/04/26/breakfast-sushi/
They come with fire,they come with axes...Destroyers&usurpers,curse them. GALL:I hope you get run over by a dumptruck full of babydicks CORVUS:yoss hates&knows everything BAN724:I like how buttmad ppl get about Yoss except if you lie still&listen he is trying to make us all better debaters
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#70
It's exactly that reason I was in such a bad way. Everything too familiar for too long just becomes boring and bland. Mres were pretty good at first, until they became every meal for months.
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(05-06-2016, 02:33 PM)NSFgirl Wrote: You're a terrible person, wongtastic.
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#71
(08-20-2015, 07:33 PM)Yossarian Wrote: https://tymbussanich.wordpress.com/2015/04/26/breakfast-sushi/

Don't you remember the rule about posting links with no context? You ought to, you call other people to heel about it often enough. Cool

Was this posted for my opinion? If so, it's a very neat idea, but I can think of some ways to vary it.

The rolls there, they seem to need something in the centre with more bite to it, more resistance to the tooth. Sushi is partly texture-based as much as anything else, and that seems lacking once you get through the bacon. Something firmer, or at the very least denser, in the middle (Carrot? Celery? Capsicum? Sausage chunks? Something that's not grated and soft, bigger pieces to add bulk and textural interest) would help.  Alternately, you could replace the bacon weave on the outside with a savoury crepe, and have bacon and mushroom and pappers etc inside surrounded by the egg/potato/cheese mixture?

There are also other sushi forms...nigiri made like a potato croquette, with bacon and avocado/smoked salmon and baby spinach topping it? Temaki cones with thin waffles or crepes?  Gunkan with bacon outside in place of nori, scrambled egg or more grated potato mixture for the bulk of the filling and finely diced tomato and peppers where the fish roe would sit?


Quote:It's exactly that reason I was in such a bad way. Everything too familiar for too long just becomes boring and bland. Mres were pretty good at first, until they became every meal for months.

As I understand it, they've been using the same basic menu in your chowhalls for years. Small wonder you were going mad.
A penis lives a terrible life. His hair is a mess, his family are nuts, his neighbour is an asshole, his best friend is a pussy, someone keeps beating him...

Poor thing.
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#72
I liked the chow hall. >_>
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#73
(08-21-2015, 09:54 AM)First Strike Deadly Wrote: I liked the chow hall. >_>

You never got bored of cobbler every day for weeks, or the same three vegetables recycled twenty ways before the menu resets to begin again on day 21? You never went elsewhere when you had the option because you wanted something else?

I'm looking at this month's menus for MCAS Yuma right now, and that's largely what I see. The same dessert six days of seven, and 18 days of 21 - one day might be apple and another blueberry, but cobbler with a different fruit in it is still cobbler, and for some reason I can't fathom it's ALWAYS cobbler. They have fruit out for breakfast, so where is the fruit salad? Granita is nothing but sweetened flavoured ice and it's stupidly easy to do in bulk, where is that? Chocolate mousse, cheesecake (or indeed any cake), hot donuts (they have the dough, why not?), sticky pudding and custard, jelly/jello, the DIY Sunday sundae bar...all easy to produce in bulk for a crowd, but never seen?

Always potato and corn for sides, only rarely something else in a key role. Poultry or beef every day, but rarely fish, only occasional pork and almost never anything really inventive with vegetables (sides OR main). Limited colour palette, which matters more than you think; we eat with all our senses, and the eyes eat before the mouth. Limited textural variety.

I'm also noticing a hell of a lot of cilantro/coriander leaves  in three quarters of the menu, which is a real problem for variety; a sizeable percentage of people (between 5-20% depending on ancestry; Southern Europeans are most prone, Southern Asians least) can't eat cilantro at all, because for them it tastes like soap and ruins everything else on the plate. Cilantro is the single most common "I don't like X, please use less!" complaint I can think of, and by piling huge amounts of cilantro into most of the offerings they're guaranteed to piss off a far too large chunk of their audience. Someone curtailed this way is going to have a horrible time trying to avoid it, they're cut down to a much smaller and more repetitive menu than everyone else if they want food they can stomach...and if they're relying on chowhall food entirely then they're going to want to kill the cooks by the time the menu resets!

It could be the finest food on earth, but even a Michelin starred menu (which this is assuredly not) grows stale when you're stuck with it.
A penis lives a terrible life. His hair is a mess, his family are nuts, his neighbour is an asshole, his best friend is a pussy, someone keeps beating him...

Poor thing.
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#74
My mom was a short-order cook for many years, so I for sure know what good food is.  But she also worked (and frankly, avoided her kids).  So there were certainly plenty of times that we were on our own for dinner.  The last few years of high school were among those times.  So when I went in to the Marines, honesty, it was more variety, and better food than I would often eat on my own.

I honestly remember some good food at the chow hall overall.  It's where I first got in to catfish and pecan pie.  Sure, it was your average mass produced stuff, but still tasted good.  And on lucky days, you got prime rib or fried chicken.  7th Marines chow hall had Mexican side bar Mondays, and (IIRC) Italian side bar Thursdays.  And hell, if none of the main menu items were appealing, you could always get a good burger or sandwich.  And on the weekends, I always tried to roll my ass out of bed early enough to get a good breakfast.

The first (and I think only time) I've ever had lobster was in 2003, and it was 1st Mar Div's birthday.  We got surf and turf.  I tore that lobster tail apart.
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#75
At some point in time, I need to see an Argentinian woman cook a whole steer. That is all.
crockpotdefender03 [08|Oct 05:06 PM]: corvus gets butthurt like a little woman
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