Culinary Adventures at Sea: From Alaskan Kitchens to Fiji Waters

August 2, 2023

Elijah Busch, he/him (Oberlin College)

Deckhand Emily Benson, fortified with some of Elijah's delicious Baked French Toast, standing aloft on the lower top as the Robert C Seamans sails along

Ship's Log

Location
Vanua Levu (Fiji) 14 miles away on our starboard side.

Weather
A Floridian winter (77°F) and very windy causing some BAW (big a** waves)

Souls on Board

All blogs from S-310

Bula! (Hello in Fijian) to all my fellow adventurers,

As we approach the picturesque island of Vanua Levu, Fiji, the glimmering lights in the distance resemble a string of fairy lights, guiding us towards a land of beauty and wonder. I am beyond thrilled to share this blog entry with you, coming straight from the galley of the Robert C Seamans. Joining me in this culinary escapade are my dear galley partners, Ashley and Meredith. What a journey it has been!

Before I describe the experience let me take you back for a moment to last summer when I had the unique opportunity to work at the BEAK restaurant in Sitka, Alaska. Don't get me wrong; it was an incredible experience, and I loved working there. But, oh boy, did I grossly underestimate effects of the constant movement of the ocean and how it could impact everything in the kitchen! I was verry much unprepared for this.

Imagine this: a broken fan, the relentless 8-foot waves making the sanitizer go off at every bump. and dear friend Meredith declaring dramatically that she was going to melt into a puddle. Oh, the kitchen adventures we had!
It felt like I was inside one giant pinball machine bouncing off every surface imaginable. Amidst the chaos, we managed to whip up an array of delicious treats from trays of baked French toast that were an instant hit at breakfast to refreshing berry smoothies using the berries up so we wouldn’t have to throw them out when we entered the Fiji Islands (for customs). We tried our hand at making cheese scones for some midnight snacks. For such we made more chicken patties drizzled with honey mustard and some crispy honey roasted Brussels sprouts, and dinner consisted of some BBQ pulled pork accompanied by fresh coleslaw, and the delightful crunchy (but not burnt) tater tots that added an extra layer of joy to the meal.
After a day filled with bustling activity in the galley, I decided to take a breather on deck and join my watch group before turning in for the night. Little did I know that there was about to be a MURDER. (This is in the game of “Boat Clue” everyone is playing onboard, in which you draw a person that you try to “kill,” with an object and a place on the ship). Autumn and Julius, armed with a copy of Sailmaker's Apprentice, were waiting by the aft heads (bathrooms), giggling like schoolkids with a secret. As I asked if I could use the head, Autumn, laughing mainly with the book out in-front of her, charged at me trying to push me into the head. When this didn’t succeed, she pretended it was just a joke and was intended for someone else. Autumn and Julius went into the head to reconvene.…They say you learn a lot about yourself while at sea and I think I agree. I have learned on this trip I am a very gullible person with the naivety of a wee little bebe. Curiosity and maybe a bit of FOMO got the best of me, and I couldn't resist wanting to be part of the fun. I asked if I could join in on murder plotting unfolding inside the head. The moment I stepped inside… I DIED! I felt like Moaning Myrtle.Baked French Toast Recipe:                                                        ~Ingredients~For the bread custard:• 1 loaf of day-old French bread (cut into 1-inch-thick cubes )• 8 large eggs• 1 cup of milk• 2 cups half and half• ½ tablespoon of granulated sugar• 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract• A pinch of saltFor the crumble topping:• ½ cup of semi melted butter• ½ cup of packed brown sugar• 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon• ½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg• 1 cup of crushed pecansInstructions:• Grease a baking dish with butter.• Arrange the slices of French bread in the baking dish, slightlyoverlapping each other.• In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, heavy cream, granulatedsugar, vanilla extract, and salt until well combined.• Pour the egg mixture evenly over the bread cubes, making sure each sliceis soaked in the mixture. (Let soak overnight) ~~~~~~• Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).• Sprinkle crushed pecans over bread cubes• In a separate bowl, mix the melted butter, brown sugar, ground cinnamonand ground nutmeg until it forms a crumbly mixture.• Sprinkle the buttery cinnamon mixture over the soaked bread slices.• Cover the baking dish with foil and bake in oven for 30 minutes.• Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the topturns golden brown and crispy.• Serve with a handful of fresh berries.- Elijah Busch, he/him (Oberlin College)Shout out to my old co-workers  and friends at the BEAK! Love you all so much <3

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One Comment

  1. Maya Gabelberger August 5, 2023 at 10:49 - Reply

    Elijah, I loved your post. I’ve been thinking about it and joy and bubbly sparkly innocence (NEVER lose this) that share! Someone told me once when I was a teenager, that I was “loving” and to “keep being me, never stop, no matter what.” I would say the same to you. That childlike wonder and Joy! is not gullible or naive, but rather the excellence, the best part of us all – creative and fun and full of life! And, what good news, we can access it even when we are old and crotchety (I’m 54, so just getting started :-))… and still be “adventurers” as you rightly address us all, your readers. I say to you – Keep being you! Keep following giggles and curiosity and being part of the fun! You be You and never stop!- doing this brings everyone else so much joy too! Thank you! Much warmth, Maya

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