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Port Lockroy and Penguin Recipes

Discovered in 1904 by French explorer Jean Baptiste Charcot and named after Edouard Lockroy, the harbor was used for whaling until the mid-1900s. Then during World War II the British military established the Port Lockroy base in the bay on Goudier Island to monitor wartime enemy activities on the Peninsula. It continued to operate as a British research station until 1962. In 1996 the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust renovated the base to its 1962 condition and now serves as not only a museum and post office, but it is one of the most popular tourist destinations for cruise passengers in Antarctica.
Port Lockroy, Antarctica
Port Lockroy, Antarctica (Laura Cahill)
Port Lockroy, Antarctica
Port Lockroy, Antarctica (Laura Cahill)

We visited this site on a blustery day that alternated between mind-blowing sunny blue skies and within moments grey clouds and a sidewise blowing snow/rain mixture. The zodiac pulled up to the tiny rock island full of hopping and waddling penguins and a lone, lazy juvenile elephant seal. Once inside the Port Lockroy ‘Base A’ you are transported to another time. The museum is a time capsule of 1960s Antarctic life and research, with retro-weather station, photographic equipment, brightly colored tinned food rations, and bunks complete with paintings of movie starlets.
One item that caught my eye was the 'Fit for a FID' is a recipe book. First published in 1957, and written by a FID (Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey, later called the British Antarctic Survey) Gerald T. Cutland, who served as General Assistant/Cook in the 1956-57 season on the Falkland Islands.  On first reading the recipe book I was horrified by the recipes of seal meat burgers and the best way to prepare whale. It wasn’t until coming across Chapter VI on Penguins did I find the humor hidden in the recipes especially after having experienced the quirky nature of penguins and their interactions with humans. Read some excerpts below:
 
Chapter VI
Penguins
This is going to be a fairly short chapter, and for several reasons, the main being that I do not like the stuff. Also, when cooking Penguin, I have an awful feeling inside of me that I am cooking little men who are just that little too curious and stupid. I never got to the stage of dreaming about them chasing me around the kitchen with big knives, but I did have one pop into the kitchen once just to see what was going on. At first I thought how nice to have your meal come to the pot in such a fresh state but, alas, I never had the heart to do it in. Even though I have cooked many I have always left that job to those who would eat it. Since cooking so many I given up drink as, strange to say, I got into the habit of seeing pink Penguins instead of the usual pink Elephants, and our doctor said it might not be so good for my health.
….
All joking aside, I have been given to understand that the flesh is really delicious and I have seen people positively dribble like a trumpeter trying to play his instrument when someone is sucking a lemon nearby.
….
I expect that by now you will wonder when I am going to say something about the cooking of the damned thing, but to tell you the truth I could ramble on like this for evermore. However, for your sakes I will stop now and attempt to tell you the way I prepared them. First of all most of you will know that they are very strong in smell and flavor. If you don’t you soon bloody well will when you start to cook one…

Cutland’s anecdotes are sprinkled throughout the book but this is perhaps the best chapter to understanding life in this remote land and the humor one needs find to survive.
 
Gentoo in the sun, Antarctica
Gentoo in the sun, Antarctica (Laura Cahill)

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