Or breakfast? Or lunch?
There’s something about a nice meal. It just settles the mind and eases the stresses of a day. But the opposite is true as well. A lousy meal can take a hard day and just make it harder.
Eating ashore is one answer, but with what money? Once in awhile, absolutely, but all the time? This cruise would last about three weeks. The answer is to cook.
I think it’s relatively easy to eat well on shore, particularly if you have some basic cooking skills and the time to use them. (Don’t have time to cook? Here’s a great opportunity to work out your priorities!) And when I say “Eat Well”, I’m not saying fancy, overly expensive, huge preparation times and $5000 8-burner gas ranges that would launch a hot-air balloon in 3 minutes on a cold day.
No, I’m thinking simple with high-quality ingredients. A fresh salad (lettuce, avocado, tomato, maybe some peppers, a balsamic vinaigrette), a loaf of fresh bread, and two lightly seasoned pork chops on the grill for five minutes a side. Add a glass of Merlot if you wish, and relax: This is that good life. Can you do that on a boat? Of course.
But it’s a choice. Like so many things in cruising, you choose where to spend your energies and time. You can have a boat with every possible advanced and convenient feature, but you’ll work full time to pay for it or work full time yourself maintaining it if you do. For us, part of the fun of cruising is the two-fold process of hunting/gathering the raw materials for meals, and then experimenting to see what we can create with the relatively limited space and equipment we have available aboard.
(As a reference, I’ve got to put in a plug for a blog and book called The Boat Galley. Carolyn does the blog, and she co-authored the book (available HERE) with Jan, who also has a blog of her own called Commuter Cruiser. I can’t say enough good things about these two ladies, who are savvy, charming and helpful to a tee! Check ’em out.)
Mind you, our options will be expanding by a factor of many x 10 when we next take to the water. 2016 will be the first time we’ve had a boat with an actual, honest-to-God gimballed marine stove, the first time we’ve had an oven aboard, and the first time with refrigeration. Previously it’s been a portable cooler and a Coleman camp stove, plus the propane grill on the rail. Are we excited? You bet!
Maine Mussels, al la Keith & Nicki
So where do you get ingredients? Granted you can’t always eat from the bounty of the sea (and no, I’m not telling you where I gathered 25 pounds of fresh mussels in less than 10 minutes without even getting out of the dinghy) but when you can, you learn about “Fresh”. As in, “it’s-been-ten-minutes-since-these-mussels-left-the-sea-floor” fresh, and “They don’t even know they’ve been harvested yet” fresh. Difficult prep? Yeah, it was rough: knock off the barnacles, rinse in salt water, put in a pot and add 3 cups of water, steam 8-10 minutes-just til they open. Eat.
No, feast. Dip in a little melted butter if you’re addicted to butter like I am, or not. If you’ve got some bread to go with, even better.
There seems to be a conception among many folks just considering cruising that you’ll be eating out of cans the whole time, or you’ll be stuck with camp-food the whole time. If that were true I wouldn’t be going cruising.
The reality is that you’re most likely to continue eating – or trying to eat – about the way you do ashore, with a few adjustments. That could be great, but it could also be unfortunate if Haute Cuisine for you has always been a package of pop tarts and a coke. After all, your home is now a traveling kitchen, and every country, region and town has its own culinary speciality. Why wouldn’t you branch out and explore all those opportunities?
Except chicken-fried anything. I’m not sure exactly what “chicken-fried” is, but I do know that deep frying is usually what you do to disguise something that isn’t really edible otherwise. Except french fries – I love good french fries.
Perhaps what I’m really saying here is this: Don’t let the fact that your kitchen (galley) is tiny scare you off from cooking. Wherever you cruise, every single person you meet eats, and most of them cook. Yes, you’ll need to make adjustments for the limitations of storage space and tools (my Kitchenaid mixer stays in the RV while we’re aboard!), but you can cook. You can create amazingly sumptuous meals from the provisions you find along the way in stores, road-side stands and farmers markets, and the simpler and closer to the source you provision, the happier and healthier you’ll be.
And yes, that lobster roll above was the 5th lobster meal in 3 days, when a charter crew handed us a plastic bag with nearly 4 pounds of picked Maine lobster in it, saying “our guests didn’t eat lobster.” Wow – Pity that. Twist my arm a little…