I’m wrapping up my time at a second Antarctic field camp, and I wanted to pause acknowledge the amazing ways people cook at the edges of the planet. At the penguin camp at Cape Royds, the three of us buried a cooler in the snow with our frozen goods, and used a Coleman stove to reheat frozen chiles rellenos. We stocked the tent shelves with canned goods and a pallet of Nabisco cookies. Each night, we hugely enlivened our dinner with Aftelier chef’s essences that Mandy Aftel was kind enough to send south with me.
More recently I’ve been at a glacier camp at Lake Hoare, whose single wooden hut houses one of the most renown cooks in Antarctica, Rae Spain. Among her myriad other duties like managing helicopter drops and overseeing equipment repair, Rae cooks an incredible dinner for the science team every night. She squirreled away leftover citrus peels from earlier in the season to make into candied citrus, has jars of lemons preserving on hut shelves for her Moroccan recipes, a giant tub of sauerkraut fermenting under the coatrack, and she produces daily baked goods like rustic apple tarts and loaves of sourdough. In sum, I’m eating better here at the edge of a remote Antarctic glacier than most anyone anywhere in the world!