Moggy’s Tunaboat Helicopter Manual Ch.2-E "Food, food, glorious food!"

Posted on August 2, 2009

PART 2    "Moggy’s Tuna Manual"    "Job offers and job duties"


Fish head soup… yup!

Chapter 2-E  Food, food, glorious food…..!
                      (You want me to eat….THAT?????)

       Ha! Food, my friends, food.
Let me say two things.
1)  All the WILD stories you hear, the outrageous tales, the amazing horror stories, the un-be-liev-able stuff….
Very often, they are based on fact!
2) The standard of grub varies from one extreme to another.
From five star (JM Martinac) to…. well…. third world!

       One cook will leave ("Hurrah! Goodbye, you greasy little bugger!"), and another will come, and the quality of cooking leaps up. The new cook scrubs the floors and walls, cleans up, and everybody’s happy. You don’t suffer "the Taiwan Trots" anymore, and morale goes up big time.
The reverse can also happen!
       So much depends on the cook. If you have a good one, be nice to him! Tie him down with ropes and tell him he’s never leaving! Feed him beer and whiskey, and make sure he knows you love him. You will hear lots of general statements, which only carry so much validity, because different circumstances apply on different boats.
Example: "All Korean food is nasty and horrible, it comes in small bowls, tastes bitter, and looks as bad as it tastes."
That was the opinion of one highly disgruntled crew I met!
Armed with their information, when I heard I was going to be going out on a Dongwon boat, I had this bright idea of sampling Korean food first. So, all adventuresome, I went with my significant other to a Korean restaurant in Guam. We thought it would make an interesting change from that fine old Scottish restaurant we often went.
       McDonald’s…
So off we jolly well trotted. The restaurant menu was in Korean, and it didn’t help us a lot. We told the lady there that we had never eaten Korean food before, and we would like to try some great Korean delicacies! She beamed delightedly, and soon returned with… a whole collection of small bowls! She bowed and smiled, and told us how nice it was, and we bowed from our seats, and smiled, and generally went along with the spirit of the game.
The first bowl looked awful. Smelt awful. But we were convinced it was going to be yummy. It had to be. We were in a positive mood.
       Gawd! Sake! Oh!
It tasted like something had died, and had been left in a plastic microwave bag in the baking heat of the sun for a week.
A quick beer.Wash it down. Try the next bowl.
       Gawd! Sake! Oh! Cough! Yak!
Another quick beer. Wash it down. Try the next bowl.
       Splutter! Gag! Aaargh! YIK!
And so on. By the time we were debating if it was even WORTH trying the eighth and LAST bowl….
We left that restaurant hungry as hell, drunk as skunks, bowing and smiling and telling the nice Korean lady what a pleasure it had been…
FUK! I even tipped her, for flip’s sake.

       I have to confess I mostly much prefer Taiwanese or American food.  Me and "Korean yummy" seemed to have a taste bud clash. A complete non-connection. A sort of "strawberry jam on boiled egg" and "salt in your beer" cultural breakdown.
       Marmalade on steak…
Having said that, I had culinary adventures with the Taiwanese as well.
There was the day the stupid Chinese cook was having a brain malfunction. He was cleaning some fish, and chopping their heads off. Then, dozy bugger,can you believe it, he went and threw the cleaned fish overboard, keeping only the heads!
I happened to be passing, and I laughed out loud, pointing.
       He scowled.  
Oh well, I thought, anybody can have an off day. That would be the sort of thing I’d do. Ask my wife…
       Ho-hum…
I forgot about the little incident until supper time.
       Huh!?
The cook, still unsmiling, plopped this bowl of soup in front of me. A fish head stared accusingly up at me.
I thought it was a joke. I looked around. If it was, he was playing the same dumb joke on everybody else.
       Fish head soup….
Weird.

       Then there was the day I was really hungry, and there I was, staring fixedly at these pair of chicken feet in a bowl.
Chicken feet. No chicken. I mean, the blessed FEET. Complete with (dirty) nails. The self same nails, that, doubtless, in an earlier, much more happy chicken life, had busied themselves with scratting and scraping through the manure heap for juicy slugs and bugs…
Hmmmmm….


Nice chewy chicken feet, toe nails and all….

I even got myself -innocently- into trouble trying to wish the second engineer "Bon appetite". I had been busy learning Chinese, and I had learned the Chinese for "enjoy your meal!". He was a remarkably ugly, squat little man, but I tried to treat everybody with equal respect.
       Haw-tsu!
I wished it to him very solemnly, convinced I was doing my bit for inter racial harmony. Cultural understanding.
You know. I’m a bit of an idealist. Yep. A well meaning, stupid tree hugger type. Peace on earth to all men, kind of thing.
       He scowled at me.
I thought maybe he had misunderstood me. I repeated myself, a little louder:
       Haw-tsu!
He scowled at me even more. His friends scowled at me too. They positively glared.
Well, fukkit then. I gave up. Hell, I was just trying to be nice.
After the meal, the radio operator came up to me.
       "Moggy!"
He was normally very nice to me. Now he was serious.
"Moggy, number two engineer very angry with you!"
       "What!??? Why? What dafuk  did I do….?"
The radio operator put it to me sharply:
"Why you call him MONKEY!?"
       "What….???"
I explained, and when I repeated what I had said, everybody started laughing. It’s not "Haw-tsu". It’s "How-tsu".
The other word means… you guessed it.
       (sigh)

       But you can also be lucky. I once met two rather jolly and eminently contented Hansen boys coming off another Korean boat. "How’s the food?" I asked, mischievously. "Great!", they said. "Terrific! The cook does special meals for us!" These chaps were getting fat on hamburgers, steaks and fries! And bloody ice cream, for flip’s sake…"
(Jealous!)
       On another occasion I was coming back onto a ship I’d already served a year on, but with a new captain.
I met him and he bowed. I bowed. He bowed. I bowed. Big smiles. Mine was soon to get even bigger.
       "Pleased to meet you, Mistah Moggy! Here five hundred dollar! Go buy you nice food!"
Okay, and pleased to meet you too, captain!
       (bow, smile, bow some more)

       I like to have porridge in the morning.
‘Quaker oatmeal’ do a nice box with 40 individual packets. A lot better than rice three times a day! Apart from that, I have some ‘add water instant lunches’ which I struggled to get through, and loads of "long life" milk. Tea, coffee, biscuits. And I was all set! Oh, and lots of canned fruit.
As you may gather, I had very little problem with the Taiwanese food. Other guys would take boxes and boxes of stuff. A veritable cuisine. I strongly suggest you ask the outgoing crew.It’s another good reason to ask for their telephone numbers, or email addresses. And if your potential employer asks why?
       " I want to find about the food!"

       I absolutely hate it when you get sick. I’ve heard it referred to as ‘The Taiwan Trots’, having "Mexican Dog", or ‘doing the Korean Cha-cha".   It is usually directly as a result of unhygienic practises. The worst cook I ever had….
One morning I discovered all our food and meat for the day thawing out, outside on the deck, with roaches crawling all over it! A real case of "roach shushimi"!  I did my nut. I was NOT pleased! The next thing the cook was being paraded on the bridge, and the practice ceased forthwith.
Can you imagine that…. cockroaches shitting all over everything. I guess then, when it was all thawed out,  he would just shake the cockroaches off before he started to cook the food. Or did he…?
I thought back to all the meals I had eaten….. (gulp!)    
  
       I really liked Yellowfin shushimi. I ate it by the bucketful. Fresh yellowfin, freshly caught, uncooked, sliced into thin wafers, and dipped into this delicious sauce they whipped up.    I was hesitant at first. Uncooked, raw fish?
Then I had a taste!  Mmmm…. gimme some more.
Until one day I noticed the cook slicing up a Yellowfin for us, on the deck, right beside where another crew member was relieving himself, on the deck!
Guys…!!!
     (sigh)

       Generally, if you’re getting sick, so are the other crew members. That means lost efficiency. The captain is not going to like it, and that does put a brake on excessive culinary carelessness. A fiend of mine told us a good story about going into the kitchen and bawling out the cook himself. I served on his boat for a while by way of being relief pilot when he went on vacation. That was, beyond doubt, one of the worst, most unhygienic morons I’ve ever seen.
The kitchen was a disaster area.
I’d be a little cautious before you march into an Oriental gentleman’s kitchen and start insulting him.
       I’d be scared I’d get a meat cleaver thrown at me…

       Many ships however are just about five star. The kitchen on these is open, part of the galley, and you can see for yourself that everything is spotless. I was on a Portuguese ship…. I would have liked to have stolen the kitchen out of it, and abducted the cook. Gleaming. And his cheesecake! His chocolate pie! His fritters! Oh, mercy, Lord!

       Overall, what can I say? It’s a case of  ‘pot luck’!!
(Yeah,that was an awful joke…)

Francis Meyrick
      (c)

Last edited by Francis Meyrick on September 14, 2009, 11:23 am


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1 response to Moggy’s Tunaboat Helicopter Manual Ch.2-E "Food, food, glorious food!"

  1. Oh, where’d ya get that sick picture of the claw soup?  Ewwwww!

    That’s positively deeeesgusting for sure!
    It makes me laugh fer sure to read the description of some of these dishes…ewww  – fish head soup – they like that stuff, eh?

    I have a Phillipino friend, so I have enjoyed and even learned to prepare some of their dishes.  One – some dried up fish looking thing – I don’t know how it is really spelled, it’s call die – ing. If you say that, it sounds just like what they call it.  It smells like something that was die-ing about ninety days ago and was left out in the sun, but is some sort of delicacy to them.  I finally broke down and tried some – just didn’t breathe, cuz’ it smelled so bad. Oddly enough, not much taste at all. I would not try that blood pudding stuff they make; however.

    I’ll just bet you look long and hard at the cook on those ships.  How long are ya out for?  I’m trying to think how long one could go without eating or with eating precious little and still function…lol!

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