Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Recipe from Bouvet Island (revisited)

One of the best things about having an international food blog is that it gives me an opportunity to talk (virtually, anyway) with all kinds of interesting people, some of whom live in or have visited some truly remote places. Of course the other edge of that sword is that it's often really difficult to reach some of those people in the first place, which makes small countries and remote locations some of my biggest challenges.

You may remember how much trouble I had with Bouvet Island, which is an unoccupied island near Antarctica (read more about it in my original Bouvet Island entry), a place so remote that only a handful of people have actually ever set foot on it. When I was researching that location, I focused on a yacht-for-hire named The Hanse Explorer, which is one of the few ships that regularly sails near Bouvet Island. I tried in vain to reach a chef or even an administrator-type who might be willing to share a recipe or two, but I was sadly thwarted by what I'm guessing was my overall unimportance in the grand scheme of people who rent out luxury yachts for a living. So I had rely on a few vague mentions about the sushi served on board when coming up with my menu. Don't get me wrong, I love sushi, but authentic it was not.

So imagine my delight when a few weeks ago I was contacted by Greg Hofmeyr, who has actually been to Bouvet Island several times as part of a research team studying seals and seabirds. While on Bouvet, Greg and his team stayed in small cabins or tents which had, as you might imagine, very limited cooking facilities. But based on the description of some of their meals, they still managed to eat like kings. Well, like kings living in small cabins or tents.

Greg described a number of dishes, many of which had Norwegian influences, but the recipe he passed along was for a very unique sandwich he calls a "Bouvet Island Special." (Credit for this recipe goes to Greg's teammate Bianca Harck.)

I have to say I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to make and share this recipe, because unlike any of the mostly uneducated guesses I made at Bouvet Island cuisine, this is truly a Bouvet Island recipe--prepared and eaten on the island itself. So are you ready? Here it is:

Bouvet Island Special

  • Oversized loaf of home baked whole wheat bread*
  • Butter or margarine
  • Large salami, preferably reindyrpølse (reindeer salami)
  • Canned pineapple rings
  • Cheddar cheese, sliced thickly
  • Chutney, preferably Mrs Balls
* I used this recipe, which I didn't copy here because it's not a Bouvet Island recipe. And also because I couldn't be bothered. :)

OK, so you know me ... I try not to do these meals halfway and I usually make at least an effort to use the ingredients the original recipe calls for. So I looked for reindeer salami and actually found some on a couple of different websites. Sadly, though, we are on a food budget and I just couldn't justify spending 20 bucks on the salami and another 35 shipping it. As much as I really did want to try eating reindeer salami.

I was, however, able to locate some Mrs Balls chutney online for not very much money, which was awesome because I love chutney and it certainly isn't going to go to waste. It did take forever to arrive, though.

So finally with all ingredients in place I put this together for Martin and I to eat for a Sunday lunch. Here's how it's done:

Slice the bread thickly and butter both sides.

Layer on the cheese and salami and top with a pineapple ring.

Slather some chutney over the butter (and I mean slather) and wrap the sandwiches in aluminum foil.

Now take your foil packets and put them in a frying pan over high heat (alternately you could do these on your barbecue). Check to make sure the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted.

Now you can put the packets in your backpack and go chasing after seals. Or if you're not a marine mammal biologist, you can just open them up and eat them in the comfort of your dining room or on your deck. You know, in weather that does not threaten to turn your extremities blue.

I have to admit to being a little skeptical about these sandwiches. In fact when I repeated the recipe to a friend of mine, she went "ew!" I guess it's something about the pineapple and salami combo that just puts off us Americans, though why we eat pineapple and cottage cheese I will never truly comprehend.

But I like to be adventurous, so I tried them and guess what ... Not only were they seriously tasty, they were also exactly the sort of thing I'd want to be eating if I was chasing seals around a frozen and barren wasteland. They were warm and really filling and were a nice combo of sweet and savory.

So I just want to say "thanks" to Greg for going to the trouble of sharing this recipe with me. Greg, by the way, is Curator of Marine Mammals for the Port Elizabeth Museum at Bayworld in South Africa, which didn't really have anything to do with his Bouvet trips but deserves a plug anyway since they have such a helpful guy working for them.

I hope readers will make this recipe since I'm pretty sure it is the one and only authentic Bouvet Island recipe now available to the public. If you do, be sure to leave a comment.

Coming up on Thursday: Comoros

For a printable version of this recipe:

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for publishing this recipe, Becki. I hope that it provides many outdoor people with a hot and energy filled meal in cold weather. And also one that is easy to prepare and easy to pack. However, you forgot to mention that the BI Specials are the result of Norwegian-South African collaboration, especially the ingredients. Our teams have always included both nationalities and the inventor, Bianca is South African.


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