There were many things about Palmer Station that I was looking forward to seeing and experiencing again this year. These included, of course, the wildlife and islands and glacier hikes, and seeing people that were here last year and meeting the new people. But for me, and I think for many other people, I was also really looking forward to the food. That may sound strange but if you experienced the cooking here you would miss it as well.
We are incredibly lucky in that we don’t have to prepare any meals for ourselves, except on Sunday (when we can either cook or just eat any of the leftovers from the week before, so it is possible to have your favorite meal again!). In terms of our science this is very useful because just imagine how much time you could save during the day if you didn’t have to make breakfast or lunch or dinner or any snacks during the day. We just show up in the dining room at meal times and there are yummy meals already for us to eat.
Marge Bolton gets up at about 4am to start preparing breakfast for us. Marge is from Fairbanks, Alaska and has worked as a cook at South Pole station and also at a field camp called Siple Dome near McMurdo station. For the last two seasons we have been very fortunate to have Marge as our cook here at Palmer Station. After breakfast Marge prepares hot lunch for us and also a morning and afternoon break (when we have things like smoothies, pastries & muffins etc)- and fits in making cookies as well!
Not only do we have Marge making our taste buds happy, but we have Wendy Beeler as well. Wendy lives in Bar Harbor, Maine and is from Schenectady, New York. Over the past dozen or so years Wendy has worked at the South Pole (including being the winter over cook) and at McMurdo and surrounding field camps, as well as cooking for Palmerites. Our evening meal is prepared by Wendy and is always a taste sensation.
When we have a visit from the ship we are resupplyed with fresh food (freshies) but as you can imagine these do not always last all that long. Things like lettuce start to disappear from the menu after a couple of weeks. You would be amazed how the cooks manage to make do with what they have- so even if we have not had a ship in for a while we still eat healthy meals, but more importantly good tasting meals.
Even though Palmer Station is not very big, there are many different jobs and worksites so mealtimes are a great chance to chat to people that we don’t see during the working day- and are also a perfect time for doing the crossword puzzle which is printed out each morning from the NY Times. I was not a crossword puzzle aficionado before I visited Palmer, but it is pretty hard to leave with having become one.
Both Wendy and Marge have been here all summer- Marge will stay until we leave but Wendy leaves on the next ship out. We will be sad to see Wendy go but she will be replaced by Danielli Spears, who will stay throughout the winter- so I am quite sure that our mealtimes will just as keenly anticipated when she arrives. Needless to say, trips to the gym will also remain equally necessary!