Food storage

March 22, 2009

Going grocery shopping is a weekly activity on land. At sea, grocery shopping happens one time: before departing from port. Chefs Alejandra Monje Miranda and Antonio Ford stock the Palmer’s galley while in Punta Arenas. They must consider providing enough food to feed 70 people for 40 days.

The galley and its storerooms occupy two levels in the bow of the ship. Two cold rooms and a walk-in freezer store frozen meats, chilled fruits and vegetables, ultra-pasteurized dairy products, and ice cream that must last the duration of the cruise. Smaller refrigerators and freezers, all set at various temperatures that are optimized for different types of foods, line the walls of the galley. Large storerooms house dry goods including rice, flour, pasta, canned vegetables, canned fish, and canned sauces. Most of the generic food, such as rice, flour, baking soda, and sauces, comes from Chilean food companies, but one storeroom specifically holds familiar American brands of teas, maple syrup, salad dressing, ketchup, and other snacks. A cargo container of American food is shipped down from the United States to restock that particular storeroom.

Shelves are stocked once before departing from port and must sustain 70 people for the whole 40-day cruise. Photo by Amanda Kahn.

Shelves are stocked once before departing from port and must sustain 70 people for the whole 40-day cruise. Photo by Amanda Kahn.

Enough food is stored onboard to feed everyone for up to six months. Pack ice can freeze the ship in place and postpone its return to land, so storing extra food is an important contingency plan. Extra canned foods include tuna, meat, and canned vegetables. Fish, meat, and vegetables contain an adequate variety of nutrients to stave off any nutrient deficiencies that might otherwise affect people onboard.

—Amanda Kahn