In a frigid Antarctic kitchen, nine hours by plane from the nearest grocery store, writer Jynne Dilling Martin discovers pad Thai, pear galette and an astonishingly creative Thanksgiving dinner.
The worst part of sleeping in a snow cave in Antarctica is not the minus-20° windchill or the midnight sun glaring through every crack. It’s not peeing in a bottle or feeling achingly sore from digging the cave in the first place. The worst part is crawling out the next morning, stiff and starving, fantasizing about a latte, eggs and pancakes, and prying open a box of rations to find a choice between a baggie of frozen raisins or a baggie of frozen nuts. I’ve often opened my pantry at home and groaned at the limited options, but that pales in comparison to the scarcity of food on a remote ice shelf where the nearest grocery store is a nine-hour cargo plane ride away.
I came to Antarctica as a writer-in-residence through a National Science Foundation program. Since childhood, I’ve been obsessed with the place, so it was a dream come true to be invited to spend six weeks living in various small encampments around the continent, writing aboutthe scientists who work with its penguins, seals, fish and microbial life. The residency promised helicopter rides over volcanoes, hikes across glaciers, and days spent watching seal pups learn to swim and Adélie penguins pop out of the ocean. But it also meant something dreadful to a locavore vegetarian like myself: six weeks without any fresh food.