The Antarctic Book of Cooking and Cleaning

With all the news surrounding global warming, I was very curious when I heard from Carol Devine regarding her book,  The Antarctic Book of Cooking and Cleaning.  Aside from the climate discussion, it was an area of the globe that wasn’t  really on my radar screen up until a few years ago, when  I saw some absolutely surreal photographs a friend of mine had taken of the landscape and icebergs there. I had no idea such beauty and color variation could be found in frozen water and tundra.  Suddenly the visual concept of melting ice, greenhouse gasses and the subsequent consequences had perspective. I became more and more interested in causes and solutions, and I began reading as much as I could about the subject.

Written by Wendy Trusler  and Carol Devine, this is the story of everyday life at the Russian research station, Bellinghausen, on the South Pole.  The two are part of a Russian-Canadian environmental clean up project in Antartica during the summer of 1995. Challenges of cooking in an unusual kitchen with limited resources are only a part of the story in this food and cultural history tome.  Setting the tone in the preface is the opening line, The first thing that comes to mind about Antartica is not likely food.  But if you are going to spend any time there, it should be the second.

antartica trusler devine

One part journal, one part travelogue, mixed with two parts clever recipe book , the writing adds up to an unparalleled vision of life, surviving and cooking at the bottom of the world.  Fifty-four people from five continents volunteered in different sessions to spend their vacations picking up 28 years of trash on one of the few places in the world that has the unique designation as a spot devoted to peace and science.

antarctic book food recipes

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The 42 recipes included are a collection based on the meals from the international group on the project.  There are a few interesting  cocktails-pisco sours and caipirinhas.  Menus range from white bean and roasted garlic soup and great wall dumplings, to frozen chocolate cream and the Asparagus Pate I have included below that we enjoyed on this Father’s Day.

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Asparagus Pate {makes enough for twenty}

6 cloves garlic// 8oz. cream cheese// 1 c. mayonnaise// 1c. grated Parmesan cheese// juice of half a lemon// 1 jar white asparagus spears 11oz.

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Peel and mince 5 of the garlic cloves and put them in the food processor fitted with chopping blade.  Add room temperature cream cheese and pulse until smooth.  Add the mayonnaise and pulse until blended with cheese.  Add the lemon juice and all but 2 or 3T. of the Parmesan cheese.  Pulse until the texture is consistent throughout and then transfer it to a medium sized bowl.
  • Drain the asparagus and chop it into small pieces.  Add it to the cheese mixture and mix until evenly distributed.  Scrape the mixture into an ovenproof dish.  At this point it could also be divided into 3 0r 4 smaller ramekins and frozen.
  • Peel and slice the remaining garlic clove into thin wedges and press the slices into the top of the pate.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Place in the center of the oven with a pan underneath to catch any drips.  Bake until golden brown and puffy on top, 10-15 minutes in smaller dishes or 20-25 minutes for the larger quantity.  Don’t be discouraged if the top starts to look like an environmental disaster-this recipe can be a little finicky.  You can salvage the pate just before serving by using a piece of bread to gently blot up any oil from the top.
  • Serve hot with flatbread, crackers or warm Honey Oatmeal Bread.

asparagus pate antartica

Some of the visitors questioned the long term results of their clean up efforts:  Will it make a difference?  I loved the author’s reply – You wouldn’t stop cleaning your kitchen just because it might get messed up again.  Enough said!  The Antarctic Book of Cooking and Cleaning will leave you better acquainted with this mysterious continent, as well as inspired and appreciative that most likely tonight you are  cooking from the comforts of your own home.

I received a copy of The Antarctic Book of Cooking and Cleaning for review purposes. Congratulations are in order, as the first edition of the book has sold out.  Visit their web site to add your name to the waiting list for the next edition.

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  1. I’m adding this one to my “books to read list” as it combines at least two of my passions—-travel and eating. Cleaning—not so much, but reading about cleaning at the bottom of the world—absolutely.

  2. What an interesting project and worthwhile as well. I’ll totally try making Asparagus Pate..I always have a challenge dreaming up appetizers and this one looks like a winner.

    • It was delish and even better today as I scooped some up for lunch, as the flavors had a chance to meld. The author had substituted asparagus for more expensive artichokes, I could see using hearts of palm as well. It’s a good one to have the ingredients on hand in the pantry for a last minute get together.

  3. I have always been fascinated by how people live on Antarctica for months at a time. I went on a 21 day cruise there ( starting in Valparaiso, Chile and ending in Buenos Aires, Argentina), and it got pretty boring during the 10 day stretch that we couldn’t get off the boat. I would do it again though! The asparagus pate looks awesome. I am going to check this book out.

    • I really admire all of the people involved. It’s one thing to volunteer during your vacation, quite another to do it in a place as harsh as Antarctica!

    • I’m with you Anita, this gave me such good insight into the beauty and seduction of a place that people have risked their lives to visit and explore.

    • Originally the chef wanted to bring artichokes, but substituted jars of asparagus, as it was too expensive. That was one of the things I liked about the book. It inspired you to think of recipes in new ways and be a bit creative with what you have on hand.