Thanksgiving at pole was celebrated on Saturday, 24 November. Sunday is the day (most) everyone gets off, so by having Thanksgiving on Saturday, folks got a two day weekend, a rare treat down here. There isn't much to do here in terms of "going out", but two days off seems like a real holiday. The kitchen staff never get the same days off as the rest of station-- they work very hard and do a great job. Science techs and meteorolgists don't get days off, although we tend to try and do less work on Sundays.
All the food in the galley is cafeteria style--there is a buffet counter where we line up and fill our plates, and then sit at one of about 20 tables. For dinner, for example, the food is available from 5 to 7:30 PM, and people eat whenever they want.
For Thanksgiving, they had three sit down seatings, and we signed up a week in advance for our time slot. The seatings were at 4:30, 6 and 7:30. The late seating is reserved for the "midrats crew", and is popular because there is no seating afterwards, so we can linger in the galley longer. There were also sign up sheets to volunteer as dishwasher and as wine pourers. A group of beakers had bought many cases of wine for the whole station to enjoy.
I picked the 7:30 seating along with my buddies Meghan, Anna, Dave and Jon. At 7 everyone for the late seating met in the upstairs galley for appetizers and wine. Then we went downstairs and picked seats-- all the tables had been lined up into two long rows and covered with real cloth table cloths, and the places had been set with dishes and cloth napkins. We grabbed plates and got in orderly lines to get our food, still buffet style.
The food was awesome-- for two days prior people had volunteered in the kitchen peeling potatoes and baking pies, and it was a great meal. There were three kinds of turkey--smoked, roasted, and deep fried. (They had been smoking the turkey for a couple days prior in a big smoker outside of the galley building under the dome. The first day they started that I came out of another building in the dome and smelled smoke and thougt the dome was on fire and couldn't figure out why I hadn't heard the alarm!). They also served real mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, bread, salad, turkey and vegetarian stuffings, and probably some other things--that was all I ate.
And then came the pie, mince, apple and pumpkin, with real whipping cream. We were all in food comas by the end of the meal, very happy ones.
I wandered back to the galley a few hours later and discovered and impromptu dance party had started--they have a pretty decent stereo in the galley and there is always music playing (Lyle Lovett is popular). Tables were pushed aside and people were dancing until quite late. The lights had been dimmed the whole evening, which completely tranfsormed the galley--everything on station is lit by banks of flourescents, like any industrial building. Having mood lighting was very pleasant.
Christmas dinner will be similar, and is only a couple weeks away! No one seems to know what the day off is for Christmas, so I'm not sure when we'll have our big meal.
Last night I went into the kitchen and made 8 loaves of pumpkin bread--they had flown in real cooking pumpkins for the pies, and there was one left. Marge, the (awesome!) baker had cooked it up for me, and i seived it and whipped up an octo-batch of bread. I sampled a little at 4 this morning when it came out of the oven and it was pretty good! We'll serve it tonite at midrats. I plan on baking more this winter--people work more in the kitchen in winter since the station is more like a family. i need to learn about high altitude baking before Marge leaves! (The physio- altitude here varies from about 10,000 ft to 12,000ft.)
copyright 2000 Andrea Grant
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