Not so glorious food!
Looking back it is not so long ago that sailors making long trips had to make the key choice between light weight and taste. But now, thankfully, technology and demand means that there is more and better choice in freeze dried foods. But the lack of fresh food and the limited choice of diet does mean eating remains a chore, part of the daily routine during the three months, rather than any kind of pleasure. There is some solace, one imagines, in that it used to be much worse – everything tasted chocolatey and sugary.
But it is essential from the viewpoint of nutrition and performance having a wide choice of real tastes and flavours, and a range of foods tailored to the different climate zones (skippers need many more calories in the cold south). And even from the psychological point of view, having good choice and a selection of regular specialities and treats is very important also. So food and nutrition is an important part of the preparation and planning for skippers and their technical teams.
So now teams try to ensure there is a broad choice of main menus, freeze dried, pastas, rice dishes, which just require water to be added. They are made – and usually eaten from – the bag. Tastes have definitely improved thanks to the freeze drying techniques and the sheer desire to have good cooks and chefs apply their skills to develop interesting menus. In the early days of the race, the first week or tend days, fresh foods – fruits and vegetables for example – are valued. British solo skipper Mike Golding used to value a cooked breakfast in the first few days of the race.
On Cheminées PoujoulatCatherine Stamm took care of ordering the dried foods while Anne Le Cam has a comprehensive master spreadsheet which covers day by day, week by week requirements according to weather and sea conditions and their partners’ tastes.
Bernard Stamm says: “It is obvious: we do the same when we sail in the tropics or in the cold of the deep south”. The two women use their combined experience of previous races, their expertise (Anne Le Cam runs a restaurant) and their perfect knowledge of their partners preferences, and the treats they will like. Le Cam in particular enjoys good food and does not like too much compromise.
Ariane Pehrson is very well known to offshore sailors has a business in Lorient specializing in the supply of freeze-dried food. The company is now recognized by ocean racers as well as lots of other extreme sports: mountaineers, ultra runners and polar adventurers...
"It's important to spend time with them. I try to find out about their tastes, their approach to food in order to advise as effectively as possible”. Among the crews who decided to trust Pehrson are GAES Centros Auditivos, One Planet, One Ocean & Pharmaton, We Are Water, Cheminées Poujoulat and Renault Captur.
This topic is at the core of research and initiatives taken by the Barcelona World Race team in collaboration with El Celler de Can Roca and Les Cols, two of the best known Spanish restaurants. In partnership with the Campus Torribera from the University of Barcelona they have created a few exceptional dishes and freeze dried them. They will be given to each crew of the Barcelona World Race. What a treat!
Conrad Colman (Spirit of Hungary) is vegetarian. The range of meat free freeze dried products are significantly fewer. Nonetheless the Kiwi has his own recipe: "I love peanuts, I'll take enough to go all the way around the world."
Anna Corbella (GAES Centros Auditivos) sums it all up: "The freeze-dried food has evolved in recent years. It is much more varied, but it will never replace a good "tortilla" with potatoes or fresh fruit... We'll have to wait three months to be able to have these things. But, no matter, the first meal shore will taste like a royal feast.”