Rothera Diary July 2001 – Historical Menu

30 July, 2001 Rothera

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Jenny and I have been spending a week working through mid-winter dental checks for the crew. With a healthy team not much needs doing, just a check up, scrape and polish and fluoride treatment. Next Jenny will do my check and then the fun starts as I will have to do the same for her.

Our diet is pretty good and dental hygiene excellent. However I’m fairly sure that it was not always the case in the past. We have now run out of fresh fruit and vegetables plus we are completely out of dried peas now except for the sledging rations. This has started me thinking about what people used to eat in the past whilst on antarctic expeditions. Here is another quote from “This Accursed Land”:

“Mawson was bent over the primus, and the hissing blue flame lit the ice hole with a warm look of cosiness and added to the fragrance of the traditional sledger’s ‘Hoosh’ – a mixture, boiled in melted snow, of pemmican (dried beef, heavily laced with powdered fat) enriched with a knob of butter, and thickened with dry biscuits which were beaten to crumbs with a geologist’s hammer.”

Honestly who could want for any more? Hunting through the cook books in the kitchen I came across the following recipes:-

Disclaimer: Obviously these dishes are now the stuff of legend, not reality as the British Antarctic Survey does not have to rely on the indigenous wildlife for food!


  • 1 prepared seal brain
  • 3 reconstituted eggs
  • 1 dessertspoon tomato sauce
  • 3 oz butter
  • grated cheese, hot toast
  • salt, pepper and a little grated nutmeg

Chop the brains into very small pieces and mix together with eggs, tomato sauce and nutmeg.

Heat the butter in a saucepan pour in the mixture and cook for a minute or two stirring all the time.

Serve on hot buttered toast sprinkled with grated cheese.


  • 1 prepared and jointed shag
  • 4 oz suet
  • 2 oz flour
  • ½ cup reconstituted onions
  • 3 – 4 rashers of bacon
  • 2 pints of good gravy
  • 2 drops oil of cloves (from medical box)
  • 1 teaspoon mixed herbs (tied in muslin)
  • 2 – 4 glasses of port (from Xmas box)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Melt the fat and fry lightly the joints of the bird and the bacon.

When the meat is slightly brown place in a casserole dish.

Cover with the gravy and stir in the flour which has been blended with a little water and cook in a moderate oven for two to three hours, or until the meat is tender.

Shortly before serving, remove the herbs and stir in the port wine.

Re-heat but do not boil. Serve at once.


  • breasts of penguin as required
  • butter, seasoning
  • mixed herbs


  • 1 tin tomato soup


  • tomatoes as required
  • reconstituted peas
  • croutons of bread fried in butter

To prepare the meat:

  • Wipe the meat dry and cut into neat pieces about the size of the fried bread.
  • Season well a few moments before cooking and fry quickly in butter


  • Drain off the juices of the tomato and heat them in butter. Also heat the peas.


  • Pour the contents of a tin of tomato soup into a saucepan and add the juices of the tinned tomatoes and 2 oz butter.
  • Season to taste. A little tomato sauce may be added if a sharper flavour is required.
  • Place on top of the stove and heat, but do not boil and blend all together by stirring.

To serve:

  • Place each Tournado on a crouton of bread, top with a little of the sauce and garnish with the tomatoes and peas.
  • Pour a little more sauce around the sides and serve with saute potatoes.


  • seal hearts as required
  • ½ cup each of reconstituted onion, turnip, peas
  • 1/4 cup of reconstituted carrot
  • 4 – 6 tomatoes (tinned)
  • 4 oz beef suet
  • 1 tablespoon each Bovril, flourwater or stocksalt and pepper to taste

Wash and throughly clean the hearts.

Ensure that all the blood has been removed and soak in salt water for two or three hours. Melt the fat in a strong stewpan and fry the vegetables.

When the vegetables are turning brown, remove and add the flour to the remaining fat and cook until brown.

Add the water or stock slowly, stirring all the time to prevent lumps, and the Bovril, salt and pepper, making a nice gravy.

Return the vegetables to the stewpan with a pinch of mixed herbs.

Place the hearts on top of the vegetables and almost cover with gravy. Place lid on pan and allow to simmer for two to three hours or until the hearts are cooked.

Cut the hearts into slices and arrange on a plate and cover with the gravy.

Serve with creamed potatoes and french beans, or any kind of vegetable.