If it isn’t the seawater sampling that structures our waking hours, it is definitely the galley. The galley is a maritime term for the kitchen, and it is where our two chefs, Jay and Richard, cultivate the cuisine of the cruise. Meals on the Revelle – not science stations – were the first indication that my ship routine would be different from my routine on land. Breakfast is at 07:30, lunch is at 11:30, and dinner is 17:00, all much earlier than when I usually dine at home. No matter how erratic our hours may be under the chemistry hoods or out on deck, these three meals serve as times to coalesce the entire crew, whether the breakfast of one is the dinner of the other, or whether the dinner of the early-riser is the mere afternoon snack of the latecomer.
The food stock on board is a testament to the distant harbors that the Revelle has touched in its recent past. The true traces of its history lie beyond the obvious stashes of ice cream, pretzels, peanuts, tea, cereal, peanut butter & jelly, etc., which go fast. They are in the subtleties of the mess hall (i.e., dining area). At 7:30 am, they are in the heaps of freshly cut mango and pineapple hailing from the subtropics of South Africa. At lunch, they might be the produce in the salad. And, 24 hours a day, they are the uppermost jars on the snack shelves containing spicy, salty and sweet dried fruits from Thailand. As long as the food does not begin to spoil, our cuisine on board is a mix between the comforts of America (for example, tons and tons of peanut butter jars) and the local delights of international stops.
Aside from serving three timed meals a day, our chefs have also become the keepers of long-term time. They recall the passage of weeks by celebrating the long tradition of Sunday steak dinners. We have had two so far, the second of which marked one week at sea. At the centerpiece of these special meals are steaks that have been grilled to varying degrees out on deck; accompanying them are crackers, fine cheeses and, most pleasurable of all, cans of (non-alcoholic) ginger beer. Our second Sunday also featured Sunday-night tofu curry for the vegetarians. Thankfully, like any properly functioning culture, tradition is always open to evolution.
Finally, the food itself will begin to mark the passage of 35 days at sea. Our chefs are in a constant race against the clock, to serve the food before it goes bad. We still enjoy fresh fruit every morning and a nice salad bar for lunch, but the recent surge in banana bread for dessert suggests that bananas have become the first casualties in the fresh produce department. One might just be able to appreciate the procession of time by noting how the ratio of canned to fresh food will shift in the near future. It will then be up to the creativity of the galley to change the pace of time itself.