Location: Richards Bay, South Africa

Family and friends of the Argonauts, rest assured that as you read this, likely tucking into your own Thanksgiving meals, we are currently all entering food comas thanks to our extraordinary chefs. Lead chef George took charge today and, with the help of over 12 people, produced a literal feast (see photos). As Tina pointed out, cooking for 32 people is one of the most intimidating aspects of shipboard life for many students; today, we churned out enough food for easily 50 people judging from the number of leftovers. No store-bought food, nothing from cans (except the cranberry sauce), all home-made from scratch with lots of love and a little bit of sweat.

Desserts were made yesterday, but the oven went back on this morning at 5 AM for a breakfast of biscuits and gravy. Grace, the breadmaker for the day, learned the not-so-easy art of butter cutting, a hard enough task for your average recipe, let alone for the entire crew. Needless to say, her effort was well worth it: the best biscuits I’ve had on Argo. Chefing was put on hold, temporarily, for a joint Marine Biology & Oceanography water chemistry and plankton lab. Seeing as our dinghy is currently on the dock-side of Argo, we had to get a bit creative with our plankton tow. Jules and I walked into the marina to sample the surface waters of inshore Richards Bay… let’s just say there was a bit more than plankton in our sample. What life we did find, however, was pretty cool! There was a plethora of pinhead-sized jellies, shrimp, copepods, and fish eggs, just to name a few.

Chefing resumed in earnest post-lab. Dad, you would have been proud of my instructional ability and how much I remember from watching you but less proud of the state of the galley… it was a bit of an explosion. George and I prepped the turkeys, stuffed with rosemary, apples, celery, and lemons, and covered in butter, parsley, and a bit more rosemary. George and sous chef Henry had the whole day planned out concerning who could use the oven when and what burners were reserved for which dishes. The whole operation was incredibly smooth, and George’s face as he checked the turkeys after they had browned to crisp perfection was easily my favorite part of the day. Once things had calmed down a bit, we popped in a movie (The Lone Survivor) to pass the time before food went up.

While chefs were in the galley, the rest of the crew was not idle. Simon and Ben set the “table” or what we like to call the top of the chart house. Bedecked with a Seamester flag as a tablecloth (which covered about 10% of the total “table”), with benches from down below and on deck placed all around, under a line of draped signal flags, our meal took place in an unusual setting for sure but one that felt like home thanks to the people, now just as much our family as those of you reading at home, we were surrounded by. We sat around our table and toasted with sparkling apple cider to an excellent day and a fantastic meal:

The full list:
– Six turkeys
– mashed potatoes
– stuffing
– 60 rolls
– squash casserole
– green beans
– mashed sweet potatoes
– gravy
– cranberry sauce
– bacon mac & cheese
– Two pumpkin pies
– apple pie
– apple tart
– Two cheesecakes
– Three sheets trays of pumpkin bread

Just writing that all made me feel a little sick again. Let just say there were no calls for seconds tonight, everyone ate as much as they could and then some, and we still have plenty of food leftover for the traditional next day leftover feast. We did squeeze before dessert to give everyone’s stomachs time to make room for too much pie. We all expressed what we were thankful for both from the day and from our lives in general. Needless to say, sentiments about having the privilege of taking part in this epic adventure were shared by all. In a country far, far away, we still managed to capture the spirit of Thanksgiving that is currently being shared across the country. From those who have deeply ingrained traditions to those who had never celebrated Thanksgiving before, everyone enjoyed the good food, good company, and good mood.

As I write this, cleaning is still ongoing. We managed to use nearly every single cooking utensil, pot, and pan on Argo today… sorry, salties!

P.S. Hi Dad, Tucker, and Patrick! I am sad to be missing this day with you all, but I’m sure the boys will consume my portion of food and drink with no problem. They even let me carve the turkey!

I look forward to the leftover pie on Christmas! See you all in less than a month!