Everyone's got their something...

Last week our Steward got the boot.  Our vessel was already short a Chief Cook.  Going to the Captain’s office and behaving like a bafoon so that our vessel sails with no one in the galley puts you in my ‘Voldemort Evil’ category.  While many things were said aboard the vessel about the state of affairs very little was said about ‘He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named’ (referred to from here on out as Voldemort).  Having Voldemort aboard was a traumatic event for almost the whole crew.  Talking about how psycho Voldemort was just dredges up painful memories.  Buh-bye.   When Voldemort first left the vessel we were still at the lay berth in Fujairah.  That worked out pretty well because we could get to the Seaman’s Center for our meals.  However, for the last three days we’ve been on our own.

The Bosun would get up early and cook breakfast an then start prepping lunch.  I’d join him at around 0800 and would mostly cut veggies or make a side dish.  I couldn’t get too much done because I needed to be on the bridge by 0945.  I’d stand my morning watch and then head back down to the galley.  I’d cook dinner with the Bosun from 1200-1700 and then I’d hightail it to the bridge for my 1800-2400 watch.

Like I wrote earlier we served oriental chicken and a stir-fry our first dinner.  Lunches consisted of a taco / burrito day, grilled cheese sandwiches, burgers and other relatively simple items.  However, I’m going to make a bold statement and say we really went all out for dinners.  Our second night was pasta with a meat sauce (made by the Bosun) and eggplant parmesan (made by me).  Last night was roast turkey in a light gravy (made by the Bosun) and baked tilapia in a mayonnaise pesto sauce (made by me).  We got rave reviews!

I’ve said over and over agina that I’d love to be Steward for one rotation.  Food on ships is something that I complain about NON-STOP.  Every time I come back to work I gain 10 pounds – and I’m not being overly dramatic.  At home I eat so well!  I strive to fill my fridge with as much locally grown and organic foods as possible.  I consistently eat delicious and wholesome fresh foods.  I’m not the kind of person who can have a bag of cookies in the house and not eat them.  The ship is a constant challenge for me.  Fried foods, deserts at every meal, huge portions – the list could go on forever.  Plus, I stand watch in the cargo control room – right across from the galley!  The mess deck has a constant supply of chips, cookies and other fattening munchables.  Where was I going with this?  Oh yeah…I’ve always wanted to prove that a steward could bake the fries – not fry them….could  roast the veggies – not steam them in butter….could have a dynamite salad bar….you get the idea.  After my brief stint in the galley I really feel that it’s simply a matter of truly caring.  Caring not only about your job performance but also about your shipmates!

I can also say….it’s physically exhausting!!!  My body aches!  My back is creaking and groaning.  A day later and my dogs are still barking!  I feel like I’ve been tank cleaning and bilge diving for a week straight!

While it was a little stressful to not have a menu plan it was also a little fun to figure out what we could ‘whip up’ (I use this term lightly because cooking for twenty-one was more like ‘quickly mass produce’).  The freezers and pantry were well stocked (albeit with some staples missing…and really, do we need four boxes of Pollock?!).  Voldemort left us in a weird veggie state….tons of hearty’s with no lettuce.  All in all it turned into a fun (not to mention hot & sweaty) learning lesson.

During the past few days I've been thinking of the movie Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Misfortunate Events- one of my all time favorites.  This movie fell into my lap by accident about two years ago when I didn’t think things could get any worse….and then they did.  (Actually, it was here on this same good ship…)  Lemony Snicket gives a brief narration that I go back to over and over again:  “Dear reader, there are people in the world who know no misery and woe. And they take comfort in cheerful films about twittering birds and giggling elves.  There are people who know that there’s always a mystery to be solved.  And they take comfort in researching and writing down any important evidence.  But this story is not about such people.  This story is about the Baudelaires.  And they are the sort of people who know that there’s always something.  Something to invent, something to read, something to bite and something to do, to make a sanctuary, no matter how small.  And for this reason, I am happy to say, the Baudelaires were very fortunate indeed.”

There is ALWAYS something!  I love it.