IF YOU think you have a tough job handling the eternal triangle of three meals a day you might like to hear about someone who has a tougher one—and does it extremely well. He’s the cook, or cooks, on His Majesty’s Canadian Ships—stout fella, if ever there was one, whether among the pots and pans in his galley, or at his action station in a scrap.
True, he hasn’t any children underfoot, he doesn’t have the telephone or the doorbell in his ear half a dozen times a morning, and he hasn’t salesmen working their way through college to take up his time. But, believe me, he has his own problems, all of which he seems to take cheerfully in his stride. In spite of doing the dips in a gale, and working for big appetites in small quarters, he manages to turn out wholesome, satisfying meals for all on board. Even when he’s a thousand miles or so from the grocer.
It’s all a matter of forethought and organization. Take stores and storage, for instance. Provisioning, not for days, but for weeks or even ; months at a time, is in charge of a I victualling officer, under whose direc| tion literally tons of food is taken on board and stowed in different store| rooms, according to the nature of the supplies. Staples may be tucked away deep in the hull, but there are lockers on deck which provide the cold storage for meat, vegetables and other perishables. Drinking and ! cooking water is carried in huge tanks, though on many ships there’s equipment for desalting the briny into fresh water.
Stores are regular Navy rations, the same for all Canadian ships of war and Naval Training Barracks. From them it’s up to the cook to
provide not merely the breakfast, dinner and supper which contents most landlubbers but a couple of extra snacks for good measure. At the crack of dawn, or thereabout, ship’s cocoa with hardtack or biscuits gets a big hand from the men who turn out to go on watch and those who come off. They like it rich and sweet; twenty-four pounds of cocoa a day is polished off by 162 men ! I don’t know how much sugar they use—and I didn’t think it any of my business!
The Navy gets its tea in the afternoon.-—if possible—and not merely a nibble to go with it; there’s cheese and jam, or corn syrup or peanut butter to spread on their bread and plenty of strong, hot tea to wash it down. On Sunday there’s cake or cookies by way of celebration.
The three squares a day are square indeed and—as far as I can judge without eating them—jolly good. They should be, with all the care that’s taken to have them fit for fighting men—properly combined for appetizing flavor and well-balanced from a nutritive standpoint.
Menus are made out by the senior cook for a week ahead (good idea there for all housekeepers) then submitted to the medical officer, the accountant officer and the commanding officer for approval (but I don’t suggest you do this for the head of the house!).
Navy cooks must attend Naval Cooking School before they go to sea. There they get an eight-to-ten-weeks’ course in meal planning and preparation. They learn to make soup, cook meat and fish, prepare vegetables and desserts, bake bread and cake and set up sick trays, and they have to pass both oral and written examinations as well as practical tests before
they’re considered proficient enough for galley duty. Then their reward is so much a day and the privilege of eating their own cooking.
It seems to me they earn it, what with two-time service for all meals and a six - by-two-foot stove (destroyer size) to cook them on. But they manage, even to baking bread when the supply runs out, and stirring up a cake—with icing—for tea. It will soon be the only place you can get a frosted beauty to sink your teeth into !
I suppose sometimes it’s calm at sea, though whenever I’ve set foot on a gangplank the waves have been on a rampage. (It gives me mal de mer merely to think of them.) How would you like the house to behave like a bucking bronco just as you put the porridge in the pot or the soup in the kettle? You’d expect things to slither all over the place if they didn’t iiy out the window. But the point is that seagoing pots and pans don’t slither. A bar through the handle keeps them at home on the range, and even dishes are kept under control by table fiddles or special racks when not in use.
OFFICERS and men of a warship in wartime are not out to sea just for the ride. Each has his job to do —the cook at least two or three of them. In case you didn’t know it, let me tell you that he’s a fighting man, detailed to a cruising and an action station as he goes on board. When all is quiet on the ocean front he may do any one of a dozen jobs— to fill in his time between meals. When “Action Stations” sound, it’s not a case of holding onto the soup to throw into the face of the enemy; he may be one of a fire party, on duty in one of the munition lockers, the sick bay or at some other station where there’s a much-needed job of work to be done.
But a cook’s main job, in any ship, is to keep up the health and morale of all hands by producing good food and bringing it in quantity to the men’s mess deck and the officers’ wardroom. Both, by the way, get the same rations—in the small ships at least— and the appetites of all are on a par.
This is a sample of the way those appetites are catered to—a week’s menus from H.M.C.S. York, Naval Training Barracks, in Toronto. The
senior cook who gave them to me has years of experience ashore and at sea, so he should know his victuals.
Stewed prunes, bacon and eggs.
Orange, pork liver and fried bacon.
Rolled wheat, and scrambled eggs on toast.
Rolled oats, sausages and bacon.
Half grapefruit, omelette on toast.
Cracked wheat, fried eggs and bacon.
Rolled oats, boiled and fried eggs.
Barley soup, cottage roll with mustard sauce, hot slaw, boiled potatoes. For dessert—“second” in naval parlance—rice and raisin pudding.
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