Antarctica New Zealand makes sure that we’re well supplied with energy-rich and nutritious food, as well as treats. For breakfast there are various cereals and porridge, tinned fruit, toast, and sometimes even bacon and hash browns. Lunch is usually on the go, meaning crackers, cheese, dried fruit, dried salamis and beef jerky, nuts, chocolate, muesli bars, and plenty of fluids (water and soup or tea). Dinner can get as creative as people like: Asian stir frys, pastas, curries, tacos, casseroles – even Sunday lamb roast.
They’re all made with the same basic supplies on the equipment that Antarctica New Zealand supplies. A kitchen kit for a camp comes in a couple boxes. There’s a kitchen box, a wooden box that comes with the following: plastic plates, plastic bowls, mugs, metal forks, spoons, and knives; one knife for general cutting, a small plastic cutting board; a couple of large ladles and spoons; a metal grip for handling hot billies; a couple of metal billies of different sizes; a fry pan; a large soup pot and lid; matches; garbage bags for sorting food waste and recyclable waste; and some dishwashing liquid and scrubbers. At the end of the meal, some hot water and dishwashing soap is used to clean out the big cooking pots, but people clean their bowls and plates and utensils with paper towels to keep our wastewater low. That’s because all of the wastewater we produce has to be helicoptered out – there’s no place to dump it without contaminating the environment.
The kitchen boxes stack on top of each other to form handy shelves and ledges for storing supplies and pantry items. Cooking in the main camps happens on a two-burner Coleman camp stove – the same kind people use to go car-camping in the woods or at the beach. The stove is hooked up to a large 9L LPG (liquid propane gas) canister, which provides the fuel for cooking. In sub-camps, cooking happens on small, portable, collapsing metal stoves that use white spirits for fuel. These are the same stoves people take on backcountry tramps and are light and reliable and put out a good, strong flame for boiling tea in no time.
Besides kitchen boxes, there are regular food boxes, each of which is packed with a certain combination of non-perishable items: rice, pasta, couscous, tea, powdered milk, Milo, Raro, sugar, nuts, pretzels, biscuits, chips, cereals, crackers, dried and tinned fruit, chocolate, dried vegetables, and soup packets. “Frozen” food boxes contain bread, cheese, butter, meats, and vegetables. Those food boxes get dug into the ground to keep them cold as soon as we set up camp: even in Antarctica food can go bad by sitting around without refrigeration, and the tents can get hot due to a greenhouse-like effect.