Writing about the arrival of freshies the other day reminded me that I've been meaning for a while to write a short note on the diet down here. The meals we live off are not exactly health food. Far from it, we eat mostly comfort food. Heavy, rich, and constantly available.
Due to both the elevation and the cold here, we seem to burn calories at a ridiculous rate. To provide maximum calories with minimum complication (see my post on South Pole Cooking for details on trying to cook even moderately complex dishes), most meals end up very meaty, and very fried. Cholesterol levels inevitably skyrocket through the year, and most of the oldtimers end up on medication to keep theirs under control.
I certainly don't mean to denigrate the efforts or skills of the galley staff - they work wonders within the limitations of the place. The problem is that very little is available, meals need to be as caloric as possible, and food is one of the few tools available to keep morale up through the long dark winter. Keeping everyone well stuffed with fried chicken helps to pacify the mob.
I made no effort early on to restrict my meals, and after 6 months of eating nothing but fries, ice cream, steak and corn dogs, I'd dropped nearly 20 lbs. I feel like I should write some sort of diet book - "Eat whatever you want and watch the pounds melt away! Just spend 3 hours outside every day in -100F and at 11,000 feet, and you'll be amazed by the results!" (Since sunrise, I haven't burned quite so much energy stumbling over sastrugi, and my weight's recovered somewhat.)
I'm certainly getting a bit tired of the same greasy food day in, day out, and the arrival of freshies only served to sharpen that feeling. I'm not much of a fruit eater, but the thought of a fresh apple, some berries, or a pineapple (oh, my kingdom for a pineapple!), readily available, any time of day or night, seems like paradise. New Zealand is our first stop on leaving the ice, and it's starting to look more and more like some sort of tropical Eden.