Thinking with my stomach

I have to admit, much the cooking on board is lately has been pretty uninteresting. As we work across the Pacific islands, we commonly go in spurts of a couple of weeks without access to fresh produce. There are plenty of long term staples on board, but there’s really no good substitute for a crunchy fresh veggie or ripe juicy fruit. Resorting to canned versions of either is a desperation measure.

Instead, so we grow sprouts in order to have anything resembling a crunchy fresh veggie. We buy greener tomatoes when we can find them, so they’ll be getting ready to eat when other freshies are eaten or past their prime. We try to have fruit on hand that will last.

Before cruising, we were spoiled with our access to excellent food. We had a spectacular diet based on vegetables from a CSA (Chris Lewellyn, I miss you!), meat sourced from farmers we knew (Bruce, will you and Debbie come visit us in Australia?), and staples from an organic buying club (*sniff* those days are distant). Any gaps or cravings could be easily filled by a family-owned neighborhood grocery store that offered a broad spectrum of what the world has to offer.

After years of knowing the producer for the majority of our meat- something I think is important- I was reluctant to switch to “mystery source meat” in Mexico. We tried being vegetarian for a while, and it was OK until we didn’t have much access to fresh vegetables in the sparsely populated Sea of Cortez last summer. We have better access in the Pacific islands, but opportunities to purchase can be spaced out by weeks. Except in a couple of locales (like Tahiti, where you can get almost anything you want- for a price) the variety of produce and grains can often be extremely limited, anyway .

If I sound a little glass half empty, I’m probably just down because I recently had to throw out all the remaining flour on board. We make our own bread, so this is kind of a big deal. But we found bugs. Lots of bugs. Flour with the odd weevil is one thing… flour that is alive with larvae is another. Then, it was in the pancake mix- my backup (besides pancakes, it makes excellent fry bread and can be used for some muffins and similar quick bread type baked goods).

It’s not all bad. Far from it! When we do get to population centers with markets, we are eating gorgeous, fresh, and local. I’ve got a pile of pictures from the market in Port Vila to get uploaded and hopefully share tomorrow.

Also, our provisioning in Mexico- which we are *just now*, almost seven months later, finishing up- went really well. As we use up the last of many of our Mexican-purchased goods from the spring, I’ve been noodling on long-term provisioning lately. Got questions? Send me an email, or comment below.

fresh peanut bundles

fresh peanut bundles in the Port Vila market

6 Responses

  1. Hi Beth,

    Let me just say, I love your blog! I have been following it for some time now. We are currently in San Diego, heading south with the haha on the 25th. I too am a total foodie, of the heathy clan. I will miss the easy access to so much abundance here. As I take my last trip to whole foods and trader joes this week, is there any advise you can give me on what to stock up on? Here is our blog so we can formally meet.

    Happy sailing and fair winds.
    S/V Santosha

  2. Thank you for this great blog! We are preparing in all kinds of ways to sail in a few years, and your info is super! I was thinking about your flour. I read somewhere that you should put bay leaves in the flour to avoid weevils. Have you tried this and does it work?

    1. Hi Eva- thanks, glad you like it! Weevils…happen. I’ve used bay leaves, but they still come around. The eggs are already in packages you buy and opening them kickstarts their growth (I’m told). On an everyday basis, I don’t worry about it much. For longer term provisioining, I buy in smaller packages, try to isolate them (double bagging) so if a particular bag is active/infested it’s less likely to get into other stuff. You can use chloroform and put a few drops on a cotton ball in a container after decanting (although not sure it’s sold in the US?), but I haven’t gone there.

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