A culinary history of Antarctica with 'Hoosh'
CAMDEN - In conjunction with "Food History" month, Maine author Jason C. Anthony will speak on his new book, Hoosh: Roast Penguin, Scurvy Day, and Other Stories of Antarctic Cuisine, at the Camden Public Library on Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 7 p.m.
While Antarctica is not famous for its cuisine, it is famous for stories of heroic expeditions in which hunger was a key character. At the dawn of Antarctic cuisine, cooks improvised under inconceivable hardships, castaways ate seal blubber and penguin breasts while fantasizing about illustrious feasts, and men seeking the South Pole stretched their rations to the breaking point. Today, Antarctica's kitchens still wait for provisions at the far end of the planet's longest supply chain. Scientific research stations serve up cafeteria fare that often offers more sustenance than style. In Hoosh, Anthony, a veteran of eight seasons in the United States Antarctic Program, offers a rare look at the importance of food in Antarctic history and culture.
This personal tour of Antarctic cuisine takes us from "hoosh" - a porridge of meat, fat, and melted snow, often thickened with crushed biscuit - and the scurvy-ridden expeditions of Shackleton and Scott in the 20th century to Anthony's own preplanned three hundred meals for a two-person camp in the Transantarctic Mountains. The stories in Hoosh are linked by the ingenuity, good humor, and an indifference to gruel, and help make Anthony's tale as entertaining as it is enlightening.
He says in his story, "For eight austral summers, between 1994 and 2004, I traveled the Ross Sea region of the Antarctic as a worker in the United States Antarctic Program. Mostly I lived on the coast, in the industrial, bureaucratic community of McMurdo Station, where up to 1200 people make up the largest population on the continent. Like most Antarctic residents, I am not a scientist; instead, my work recycling garbage, fueling aircraft, moving cargo, and building airstrips helped maintain the American presence in Antarctica and created a community from which scientists could work. As the years passed, I spent more time in remote field camps in the hinterlands of the Transantarctic Mountains, West Antarctica, and the East Antarctic ice cap. During all of this astonishing experience, I committed myself to a long, slow study of Antarctic geography and its implications. Off the ice, I have, since 1994, researched Antarctic history, science, culture and politics.
Anthony continues, "My voice is just one among the thousands of Antarctic workers, Navy and civilian, over the years that have, for the most part, not been heard in literature or the public discourse on all things Antarctic...Although I write often on the popular themes of exploration history and contemporary scientific issues, my foundation in doing so is always my on-ice experience and my passion for Antarctic landscape."
Jason Anthony lives and teaches in Bristol.
For more information on Anthony's presentation, or on any of this month's "Food History" events, contact the Camden Public Library at 236-3440 or visit librarycamden.org.