In life, some people are planners and others are not. I am, to a point, a planner. Plans can always change, I have no problem with that, but I like to see clearly at least one route forwards. Adam and I would not be sitting in La Paz right now if it weren't for some pretty significant planning by both of us. That said, I have come to learn that life on a boat gives new meaning to the word.
We make lists. Oh so many lists. We typically have a list of things we need to do on any given day, lists of priority projects and repairs, lists of dream projects and repairs and many, many lists for provisioning. Some cruisers are even more organized and create their provisioning lists based on known levels of consumption and weeks of planned out meals. This is definitely a winning strategy, but would drive me crazy. Not only do I like to shop for food by meandering down the isles and grabbing things that strike my fancy, but I could never cook to a schedule. Cooking on the boat has become my creative time, in a way my “alone” time, and also a welcome tie to my life before everything in my house moved.
This post is for all of those people who asked me, “what are you going to eat?” before we left. First, I have to explain the situation. Our galley is a three foot by five foot U-shaped space. At the end of the U is the stove with the sink to the right and the fridge (if you could call it that) set into the counter top on the left. The fridge is about the size of a large cooler and has a freezer compartment that, to my knowledge, has never frozen anything. It is, however, excellent for chilling alcohol. The fridge struggles to stay below 40-degrees when we are not plugged into shore. Because it takes so much of our precious power to run the fridge we were originally not cooling it at all, but we found that our food was going bad too quickly and we wanted some fresh options every once in a while. So now the fridge runs and it is always a mad dash to grab the necessary items before all of the cold air flies out. In the corner between the sink and the stove the counter top opens up to a dry-locker. This is our pantry, and is a completely ridiculous space. I have to reach over the stove to get into it, and because my arms are not 5 feet long, I cannot reach things in the bottom of the locker without hoisting myself onto the counter and diving head first into the dried goods with headlamp. With the necessary item in hand I swing my legs hard enough to leverage my body out of the hole and back onto my feet. I call it cooking aerobics. Maybe it will make up for all of the tortillas I have been eating… But I digress, back to the galley. We do have the luxury of water pressure so I typically don’t have to use the hand pump, but it is there as a back-up when we need it. To store snacks, utensils, pots and pans there is a sliding cupboard behind the stove, a cabinet above the sink and one, tiny, drawer. The stove itself is a glorified propane camp stove with two burners and an oven. It is gimbaled and has pot clamps for when the boat I less that still.
Now that you (maybe) understand the setting I can fill you in on what we have been eating over the past few months. The best times are obviously while we are in port. We went shopping in La Paz yesterday and just ate some delicious bacon tacos with fresh tomatoes, cabbage and cilantro on hand-made tortillas. Think of it is as a Mexican BLT. Lunch is typically the hardest meal to dream up because 1) we are busy and 2) lunch meats are expensive and need to be kept cold. Honestly, if anyone has any ideas I would love to hear them. Sometimes we have leftovers from dinner but mostly we slap something between two pieces of bread or wrap it up in a tortilla. One kilo of the worlds most delicious hand made tortillas only cost us about $2. Dinners are pretty much the same as they have always been. Last week some of the highlights were spaghetti carbonara with mushrooms and artichoke hearts, fajitas, stir-fried ginger noodles, quesadillas, and pressure cooker paella. It is always nice when we catch a fish. We shared the large dorado and still had quite a few meals. I even covered some pieces in cornbread and served them up with Cajun beans and rice. Yum! Breakfast is also pretty typical: fruit, yogurt, granola, eggs of every kind and the occasional banana chocolate chip pancake. Oh and did I mention the ramen. We eat a lot of that too, though typically not for breakfast.
As you can see we are not starving. Food has definitely been more expensive that we budgeted, even when we shop at the government-subsidized market. Also, there have been some days at sea where I think we ate granola bars, fruit and trail-mix for more than three meals in a row. Yesterday we found some delicious roadside tamales for less than $2 but most of the restaurants cost about the same or more than we would pay in the US. Hopefully this will change when we get to more rural areas. Most of all I am adjusting to having to cook for someone other than myself, especially since he eats about five times what I do. Next week’s experiment is baking bread in a pressure cooker. I hear it’s not that bad!
I know there are some wonderful cooks out there reading this, so if you have any easy recipes that you are willing to share, please pass them on. Keep in mind that I am shopping at a Mexican market.