I knew I was probably in trouble when my mobile went off unexpectedly at work and it was my skipper. This was our first conversation since our initial meeting at crew allocation.
“What would you say if I asked you to be the victualler for the boat?” asked my skipper.
Being the victualler on a boat is right up there at the top of the ‘you-cannot-get-this wrong’ list when it comes to crew roles! Being the victualler means that I am responsible for organising everything to do with food; deciding what we need (ie writing the menu), buying the stuff, packing the stuff into bags to survive the journey, deciding where to store the stuff in hiding places on the boat, retrieving the stuff when it is needed for cooking and eating, making sure we have enough stuff, and buying more stuff and repeating the process before the start of each race.
I said ‘yes’ and then sat at my desk slightly terrified (actually more than slightly terrified), wondering what I had done!
The ‘rabbit-in-headlights’ fear and the feeling that I must have indeed been evil in my last life were not assuaged by attending the victuallers’ training day provided by Clipper. It just told me that eleven other total novices were in the same boat metaphorically! I came away from the day just feeling overwhelmed and wondering how many potatoes were enough potatoes for 24 people for 5 weeks (the duration of our first race)! Somebody suggested the answer was 75kg … but I have no idea what 75kg of potatoes looks like let alone where am I going to store them.
But all mountains are climbed by taking the first step … so I contacted my crew to discover what were their food preferences and allergies. Possibly not a good idea! The good news was that none of my fellow crew were likely to go into toxic shock if they had to share the boat with a peanut (just as well because my peanut butter addiction is alive and doing very well) but the flip-side of the coin was people’s totally mutually exclusive food dislikes and preferences. All I can say is ‘chaps please view the food and its vagaries as part of the overall adventure … it is going to be an interesting ride, let’s hope you like the majority of the grub … and if you don’t well please just eat it anyway!’
So I have been menu planning! I’ve gone for an 8 day rotation – I am still haunted by school dinners where inedible substances manifested themselves the same day every week! Draft mark 1 was ably improved upon by Mols (with her chef’s hat on) …. not home and dry but the menu now has the potential to be edible and varied!
I now have to do the sums – potatoes twice a week for 24 people x 5 weeks … does that equal 75kg?
Molly being a total star + giving up most of Saturday to help me!
Victual (pronounced ˈvɪt(ə)l) – The word derives via Middle English and Anglo-French from the Latin noun victus, meaning“nourishment” or “way of living.” … There’s also vittles, a word that sounds like it might be an alteration of the plural victuals but which actually entered English a century before victual.