Though there are still a few odds and ends left to do – show the new cook the accounting system, help her light the stove and go provisioning together tomorrow… I’m essentially done. I served up my last meal at 6:05 pm. I baked a batch of cookies after dinner, but only to use up the dough I made after lunch.
It’s hard to believe it’s over. Like a long run that seems longest when you’re three quarters’ of the way, but when you reach the end you forget how that long stretch felt.
You know, my mother was against this whole ship’s cook business at first. My friends in L.A. didn’t really get it – and even Marc, who set me off on this journey, and warned me that I’d get hooked, routinely sends me messages saying, “Come home.”
The whole experiment was only supposed to last a few months. The ad the Neverlandand posted said, “for the season,” which in sailor-speak is usually 3-4 months. But when I called him I got roped in for six. Then when I got fired, that one month on the Neverland was just enough to hook me without leaving me worn out. The whole time I was working at Somewhere in Manhattan, I was itching to be back on a boat. And then job on the Marlin came through. And it was the perfect fit for me.
Today when the new cook was telling stories about her previous experiences, I kept feeling grateful I was not on a boat with an ice chest instead of a freezer, with a coal-converted wood stove in the fo’c’s’le (!) or on a boat where the galley windows were at arm level so people were always sticking their hands inside!
Yep, I’ve had it pretty easy. I mean, I complain about picky captains or lazy crew members, but these last six months could have been sooo much harder.
When my mother finally came around, she said, “I couldn’t see the advantages at first but now I am very excited for you. What an awesome opportunity you’re going to have to learn new things and meet new people.”
And she was right. What a crazy bunch of people I’ve met, people I would never have encountered otherwise, and several of them are surely now friends for life. What have I learned?
I’ve learned… that I need to be my own boss.
That I need a work environment with sunshine easily available, and water nearby.
That I’m a great cook. And that I can churn out three meals a day no problem.
That I hate making pot after pot of coffee – and that I dread monotonous chores.
I’ve learned you should take the cookies out before they brown.
That one should have a lanyard on one’s iPhone.
That you can take a cigarette lighter and burn down the ends of loose threads.
That chicken tastes a whole lot better if you sear it at really high heat first, with salt and pepper.
That bread dough can rise overnight to great effect and with very little yeast.
That there are people who don’t like fresh tomatoes (!?!?!) and others who don’t like onions…!
That eggs can be kept at room temperature, or slightly cooler, for a very long time, and that most condiments and pickles don’t have to be refrigerated either.
I’ve learned how to make so many things I’d never made before… And thank goodness I kept a record, since I will be going back to read it and re-learn.
I learned from the history speech the deckhands give that Dolly Madison saved the white house, and that the Captain of the boat Chasseur once tacked a door on Lloyds of London. (Just kidding.)
I know what it looks like at the mouth of the St. Lawrence and what it’s like to go through the locks.
I could go on, but I’m getting tired – and I bet you’re bored. Needless to say, I learned an awful lot. I saw a lot of things most people will never see except on television or Google Earth. And I had a helluva good time.
So… Yeah, that’s it. The end of the road. Thanks for following along; I hope you enjoyed it, dear readers, whoever you are. And if I don’t make it on T.V., who knows what my next adventure will be. Maybe you’ll find me here again someday.
Hash with potatoes, breakfast sausage, beets, onions and goat cheese.
Corn on the cob so good it didn’t need butter or salt
Potato and onion empanadas with sour cream and raspberry-chipotle sauce
Roasted garlic soup with tortillas, avocado and cheese
Momofuku Milk Bar’s compost cookies