Windfall

Windfall

The crew furling sails.This morning at muster Captain explained about the barge that had come up alongside us in the night – how it worked and how its signals worked (or are supposed to work). He’s really good at taking moments to teach us things. Last night he reviewed the near miss we’d had and why it happened. I’m sure he doesn’t think it’s for my benefit, as the cook, but little does he know how much I appreciate it. I don’t feel like I’m out of the loop. The first mate is great to me too, showing me how to tie certain knots or having me help her tighten a line.

For lunch I made gazpacho, which I knew he wouldn’t eat. And quesadillas, which I knew he would. The first mate, whom I have yet to give a nickname – can I call her Smith? – asked me if I could make a snack at four o’clock since dinner will be late. We had a date with the City until 9 p.m., involving a photoshoot and a sail with city officials. I thought, I had better do my hair.

Sometimes during the sail people will stop to talk with me about what I’m cooking. I tell them about how much I love the job. What I don’t often get into is the greatest challenge of my job: my budget. I feed eight people on $48 a day. That’s three meals for $6, per person. And that’s .50 cents more than my budget on the Neverland.

Dear reader, if I make potatoes a lot, that’s because it’s one of the cheaper substantive foods I can fill them with. We go through about 20-25 pounds of potatoes each week. Since the last grocery run, I’ve made hash browns, samosas, re-baked potatoes, potato salad, home fries, corned beef hash with potatoes, potatoes with corned beef, curried potato soup… and… well, I’m sure I’m forgetting something.

I try to put veggies in, but when I’m at the market I’m always looking at the price per pound. Mustard greens were less than a dollar a pound; collards were about $1.25, so I chose the mustard. This is how my shopping run looks. I make a menu and write down, “Beef shoulder,” but get to the market and see corned beef is on sale for half what beef shoulder costs per pound… the choice becomes obvious. Again, a choice: buy granola bars at .27 cents an ounce or make them for less than .10?

I have to get creative. And I also, unfortunately, have to throw out my ideals about eating grass-fed beef and organic vegetables. The crew would starve.

When our guests from the charter departed this evening, they left behind what they didn’t eat. (See photo above.) Hurrah! I thought – that’s at least three meals if I’m smart about it.