"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines.

Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -Mark Twain

Food, Glorious Food

>> Saturday, May 11, 2013

            If there’s one thing we salty student sailors talk about most, it’s food. On bow watch, between sightings, we muse about perfect dinners. In bed, before sleep, we fill our minds with images of sweets like ice cream and brownies. On watch, we often share our cravings with our shipmates (whether they’d like us to or not), and for days before we make landfall, we meticulously plan the snacks we’re going to stock up on once we get to shore.
            It’s an obsession.
            Days are marked by meals. We wake each other up by sharing what might be for breakfast that day. Snacks are not merely snacks-they are a ship’s economy.
“I’ll trade you some string for a piece of chocolate,” and, “How many back massages is that drink mix worth?” are all things you may hear in the main saloon by the snack bin on any given day.
            Once we get anchored or tie up to a dock, our first venture into civilization after days at sea is not to telephones, or to the post office, or even to a normal bathroom. It’s to the nearest ice cream or froyo (frozen yogurt) shop.
            It’s a curious thing. We are fed pretty well on the SSV Harvey Gamage. Our cook, Pierre makes delicious breads and never cooks a bad fried chicken. For the most part, the food we get is enough.
            So why are we always so hungry? After many-crazed ice cream runs all over cities both foreign and domestic, I’ve come to a realization that I am not hungry for food, I’m hungry for control. I’m hungry for choices. The food on the ship may be good, but I have no choice in what is made, how it is made or when. I get three meals a day, and that is quite different from my preferred grazing throughout the day. Gone are the days of good cheese, and regular yogurt and milk. If I don’t like spicy food, that’s too bad when we have chili. Sometimes our educators and crewmembers are puzzled by our infinite need for sugar on shore. But it’s not about sugar. It’s about decisions. When we go get froyo, no one else is choosing what toppings I use, how much I eat or when I choose to eat it. Every other decision on board (for the most part) is made for us… When we wake up, what we’ll read, when we sleep and of course what we eat.
            Food is the obvious out. For me, it’s an expression of emotion. When I crave chocolate, it means I am tired and depressed. If I want ice cream, I’m really hot. If I want soup, it’s because I feel cold and homesick. If I want cookies, it means I miss my mom. Many of us have extensive food craving lists that continue growing as we have longer passages.
            When finally onshore, a lot of us are subject to binging. We lose our own control and just eat everything we can get our hands on. Before I came on this trip, I knew food was important to every culture. But I had no idea it would become so incredibly important to me (and all of my friends) on the Harvey Gamage.

Sarah Holdner


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