This post is devoted to the guts of industrial cooking, not much food porn here. The truth is that about 50% of the culinary arts consists of cleaning up ugly messes, packing and unpacking, schlepping, being generally uncomfortable and exhausted, and using up food products one wishes neither to eat nor serve to others, usually because of that thing called “the budget”.
Here we have photographic documents showing:
1) old food: above, the box flap from foil wrapped items found here at the South Pole with a freshness date of 1986, called “bacon bars”. Ms. Tomato did not have the nerve to place the contents on her tongue, but others did, and reports have it the stuff is still edible. But is it legal? BTW, we don't actually serve such items in the dining room of the station...we simply discover they are there.
2) outdoor storage: you are observing here a carpenter about to climb the ladder to the roof of the south pole station where he will spend the 9-hour work day sawing, hammering and freezing his digits as wind whips round his ankles at 18 knots and the ground looms 50 feet below. As he passes the gauntlet of asparagus spears, hamburger buns, and curly fries, he roams through the region Ms. Tomato refers to as her “refrigerator”. This is the outdoor deck where a good deal of our edible products are stored and kitchen staff goes to retrieve foods, cool down items bound for the leftover fridge, and dispose of garbage. It’s too quick a journey to put on a jacket, so cotton chef whites are the only protection for the one to two minutes we spend out there at a time. Currently 90 below with windchill factor.
3) ugly messes: we do empty our bacon and burger grease into oil drums, but occasionally bits of cholesterol get into the drain and caught in what we colloquially call “the grease trap”. Here we see Smitty, the talented and vastly experienced plumber, doing the job no one wants to do: manually scooping out old rotten grease with a slotted spoon. Note the color and texture. And that is exactly what it smells like. Smitty is brave enough to eschew a face mask, but his work cleared the room⎯none of us could stay in there while he scooped.
4) party food: why we go to all the trouble of making jalapeno poppers, cheese trays and chili when no partier eats anything but chips and salsa, is a mystery even Hooters has not uncovered, but don’t give a toss about as they laugh all the way to the bank. Here is a table of typical party food ordered for every event that will sit there until someone hauls it back to the kitchen to dispose of the crusty unpleasant mass it has transformed into. The cheese selection here includes a crumbly blue right there in the middle of the tray, perhaps as an ode to monochromatic eating…might accompany the blue margaritas that were served.
5) food porn: well okay, here is some food porn. To Ms. Tomato, here on an ice shelf in the middle of nowhere, far from a farmer’s market, a big bushy head of lettuce absolutely constitutes food porn. This one is freshly plucked from the South Pole Greenhouse where plant-o-mane Joseph R. grows them. He is the sole local farmer and thus far has been unusually generous with soft leaf lettuces, cucumbers and dill.