Written by Chris Polashenksi
So a question we got a lot before leaving, while at summit, and from our friends and , now that we’re out here, is “What are you going to eat?” The long and short of it – everything. And a good lot of it. With cold temps, high altitude, and pit digging (albeit without man-hauling our sleds) we’re definitely burning through the calories – about 4000 a day for me. And that’s only the beginning of our food needs. My esteemed colleagues Mike and Nate seem to have a severe efficiency problem and are consistently putting away twice the volume of food I do, yet they do no more work, and seem to be no warmer than me. We should have checked into their efficiency ratings when Zoe and I hired these guys! Though delicious and cheese, sausage, and bacon-fat filled, the lunchitos just aren’t enough to keep this crew running.
Provisioning for the trip happened in several forms – Mike brought meat from a fall caribou hunt in Arctic Alaska. I brought goose, moose, and venison from both New England and Alaska. Eggs and veggies in the lunchitos came from Norah at Sweetland Farm.
Still a large portion of our dried goods needed to be purchased. Nate drove up to Norwich VT a few weeks before the trip to do this with me. Delayed by a snowstorm in Massachusetts, he rolled in late and met me directly at the super market. A quick hello in aisle 9, and I returned to felling displays of Lipton sides and Velveeta cheesy skillets into the motorcade of carts I’d assembled. Nate took a moment to catch on to the magnitude of the shopping endeavor and was dainty at first, selecting out about 8 or 10 of his favorite candy bars and putting them in the cart. Some quick math about each person wanting perhaps 2 per day, times 3 people, times 45 days got him straightened out and into the spirit. Soon he was putting gaping holes in key sections of the shelving as well.
Checkout raised some eyebrows, not the least because it was late on a Thursday night, and the Coop was supposed to close in 25 minutes as we pulled in to checkout lane 3 with our land-train of carts. Luckily there was a cadre of good-spirited folks working the checkout, and no one else checking out, so we occupied all checkout lanes. Everyone was excited enough to hear about the trip we were buying all this awfully fattening food for that we didn’t hear a grumble. We squeaked out just at closing time with a receipt roughly 5 and half feet long and headed to the farm to do some shuffling and repackaging.
Preserved food from the store seems to come in an inordinate amount of packaging. 8 shopping carts full of food was going to come with us but in needed to fit in about 1.5 shopping carts worth of space. Plus we wanted to be organized enough to be able to pull out a single bag for breakfast or dinner rather than having to rummage through the pile. A massive explosion of colorful packaging extending in the wee hours of the night and 10 boxes of Ziploc bags later, we had 45 neatly packed dinners and breakfasts. Lunchitos were left for just before departure.
The general theme out here for the menu is:
Hot cereal (cream of wheat, steel cut oats, grits, etc)
Fixins (chocolate chips, nuts, raisins, dried ginger, dried apples etc.)
Caribou Jerky sticks (Stick-a-bous!) or Venison Jerky
Starch (noodles, rice, powdered potatoes, stuffing etc)
Flava (Lipton sides packets, onion soup, pasta sauce, velveeta cheese)
Meat (caribou sausage, smoked salmon, tuna, canned mackerel)
Dessert (brownies, coffee cake, bluberry cake, pudding)
It just so happens that our division of labor has broken down in such a way that Mike is doing most of the camp work – and almost all of the cooking. Momma Mike almost stuck. Then Stewing Stewart was tried. Eventually, inspired by our Saturday-night watchin, nay studying, of “The Godfather” on my laptop Mike has been named the Foodfather. From our perspective this has been a wonderful arrangement. Each night, Nate and I come out of the pit to find a dinner that is always delicious, if not executed exactly according to plan. Usually the stick of butter the Foodfather “submarines” in the dinner covers any shortcomings. I’ll let him pick up next time with the Foodfather part II to tell about our food sled, and entertaining tales of culinary excellence on the ice sheet.