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29 December, 2000

Food, Glorious Food!

The South Pole has a reputation for having the best food in Antarctica, and Iım not one to disagree. The food here is fantastic, especially considering the difficulties that the kitchen staff has to work with. They prepare four meals a day (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a midnight meal for those who work throughout the night) for over 200 people in a kitchen originally designed to feed 18.

Most of the food that is eaten here must be stored frozen, and only occasionally do we get fresh fruits and vegetables. During the winter months, they cannot receive new food supplies so everything must be able to be frozen. There is no lack of freezer space- itıs all stuck outside of the galley on large palates and brought inside to thaw when needed. This is an image of some of the food storage, inside of the dome between buildings.

For food that has already been thawed and needs to be refrigerated before being served or cooked, there is a "freshie shack" near the galley. This is a small building that is heated to refrigerator temperatures to store food in.

All food that is prepared needs to be eaten, since it is expensive to ship it out of the South Pole for disposal. So any food leftover from meals goes into a leftover fridge that is in the main seating area of the galley. This food is always available for snacks, or as an alternative to the meal currently being served. People living at the South Pole need to eat a lot of food, parcticularly those who work outside. Most of the food prepared is eaten within a few days, and little food is wasted.

Although the galley was expanded in 1994-1995, it still will only seat approximately 75 people at a time, including a smaller seating area on the second floor. During meals, it can get very crowded, although not everyone on the station eats at the same time. The great thing about the galley is that everyone comes here, and lingers over their food talking with the many interesting people who work at the South Pole. You never know who youıll meet or what youıll learn over lunch.

Since food is such an important part of life here, I decided to help out in the kitchen for the afternoon. Nina, Dianne and Jon (pictured here) were hard at work preparing food for dinner tonight, tomorrow night and New Yearıs Eve dinner. I assisted in making the manicotti for this evening, and shredding cheese and chopping vegetables for pizza night (Saturdays) while Jon worked on black-eyes peas for New Years, Dianne baked bread, and Nina did just about everything else. (Many people in the galley told me to mention the whiner alarm seen in this picture. I've never seen it used, though, since the kitchen staff does such a wonderful job.)

Iım writing this in the galley surrounded by people eating dinner, and there is a consensus that I need to mention one piece of décor: the dancing flower. The kitchen staff will usually be listening to music, and there is a speaker that goes into the galley. Someone put a dancing flower there many years ago, which has become an icon. In fact, it has become so entrenched in South Pole life that someone changed the battery-powered dancing flower so that it has an AC plug and connects right into the wall.

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