Book review by Jeff Rubin in the American Polar Society Magazine, The Polar Times. “The American Polar Society is a forum for all things polar, including current scientific, political and environmental issues.” Jeff Rubin is author of the terrific article Train Oil and Snotters: Eating Antarctic Wild Foods. Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies, Vol. 3 No. 1, Winter 2003 amongst other Antarctic writings (BBC, Lonely Planet) and expeditions.
“This book is an interesting mixture of memoir, photo album, and cookbook.
The “cleaning” in the title refers to the clean-up at Russia’s Bellingshausen Station undertaken in the summer of 1995-1996 by the VIEW (Volunteer International Environmental Work) Foundation, founded by co-author Carol Devine and Sam Blyth, owner of the late Antarctic tour company Marine Expeditions International (MEI). A series of 13 small groups of paying volunteers travelled on MEI ships to Bellingshausen, where they lived in a borrowed bunkhouse for several days and collaborated with Russian station members to make a small start on cleaning up the vast amounts of rubbish that had accumulated over previous decades: fuel hoses, rusting metal, broken glass.
“Cooking,” however, comprises most of the book…Wendy Trusler was hard at work as the cook in the windowless kitchen at “Canada House,” the small outbuilding the Russians loaned to the VIEW team to use as their headquarters. In Trusler’s diary entries, we read about her interactions with the Russians and their neighbors, her personal thoughts and feelings, and of course her cooking.
Included here are 43 of her recipes—those I tried are delicious! A few derive from King George Island neighbors (“Great Wall Dumplings” from the People’s Republic of China station; “Cazuela” meat stew from Chile’s Frei base; “Pollo Relleno” from Uruguay’s Artigas station) but most are for the hearty camp fare Trusler served her guests: honey oatmeal bread, roast leg of pork, chocolate chip cookies.
Along with personal photos and black-and-white images of various events in Antarctic history, there are professionally-produced color “portraits” of nearly all the featured dishes.