Mother Watch by Jean-Louis Farmer

I had to share this with you.  Jean-Louis is one of our leggers, this is so accurate and so funny.  If we didn’t laugh, we’d cry…

Instructions to newcomers doing their first mother watch: on how to cook bacon and mushroom ‘carbonara’ style pasta on board a Clipper 68 heelng by 30-40 degrees going upwind in the Southern Ocean:

1. Chop up the bacon, doing your best to take off all the fat you can, then attempt to fit into the largest frying pan available. Discover it won’t all fit (you are cooking for 17 people) and opt to fry it in batches. So far, so good.

2. Try to light the cooker. Discover that the only way the main ring will stay alight is if you jam a knife through the slot above the gas control knob to hold it in. Try to fix said knife while the gimballed cooker is swinging wildly to-and-fro. Finally get the bugger jammed in. Great.

3. Attempt to get the bread out from the overhead ‘cave’ locker without having the other contents of the locker that have been jammed in there and land on your head. Fail. Swear repeatedly and loudly as you are assaulted by a wide variety of foodstuffs, including raisins from an open bag, more loaves of bread, packs of olives etc. Thank your lucky stars there were no tins in there…

4. Replace the bungee across the front of the locker and attempt to clear up as best you can (you will be discovering raisins in all manner of random places for weeks to come).

5. Slice and toast up the bread in batches, adding olive oil, garlic and tomato paste. Keep slices in a bowl and wedge somewhere where you think it won’t go airborne.

6. Remove bacon from pan; fry mushrooms in bacon fat. Swear loudly as the oven door, which has a dodgy catch, flies open and you spend the next five minutes trying to close it while keeping the oven from swinging so much you upset the pan.

7. Prepare the cheese sauce using four packets of Philadelphia cheese and a drop of milk (spend five minutes cursing crashing around with pots and pans before finding one that you think will hold sufficient). Get the kettle on in preparation for cooking the pasta. Do all of this one-handed as you need the other to stop yourself from sliding and landing on your arse.

8. Look at the above arrangement – cheese sauce thickening nicely, kettle on the go – and allow yourself to believe you can turn your back on it for five seconds. Get distracted by a request for coffee / water / juice from outside the galley, timing this to coincide with a massive lurch to starboard by the boat. Get hit in the head by a myriad projectile pieces of chorizo that were left in a bowl from lunchtime.

9. Having just managed to stop yourself from flying headlong into starboard cave lockers, turn back to the cooker to discover that the cooker has swung so wildly it has jammed at an oblique angle and the cheese sauce is now happily pouring out of the pan and all over everything else, along with the water from the kettle. Swear loudly, profusely and repeatedly as you and your mate try to un-jam the cooker and save the cheese sauce. Succeed (eventually). Attempt to mop up the mess (more swearing). Add bacon, mushrooms and some more Philadelphia and milk to the pan.

10. With the water warm-ish and running out of time, pour into a large pan and add the pasta (four packs).

11. Keep testing the pasta, trying to convince each other that in five minutes it will be ready, only to come down to earth a moment later and realize it has simply expanded and still has the consistency of old boots. Attempt in the meantime to clear up some of the mess in the galley.

12. Forty five minutes later, finally decide the pasta is ready: jam one foot against the sink and the other against one of the lockers opposite in an attempt to steady yourself as you up-end the pan, while your mate scalds himself holding a lid over it and a colander underneath it in an attempt not to empty all the pasta into the sink. Succeed (mostly). More swearing (much as you like).

13. Mix pasta and sauce, and serve up with slices of bruschetta that have, miraculously, survived the wait. Feel a moment of real satisfaction as you realize that your efforts to cook something passable have not been in vain. Then realize that you work is only just begun, as you survey the wreckage of the galley…

Now those of you who are making dinner tonight at home in your kitchen – not a word of complaint!

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3 Responses to Mother Watch by Jean-Louis Farmer

  1. David says:

    Hi, nothing is funnier than the truth – think you’ve got a book to write about all this when you get back. Congrats on another incredible day with 143nm made good and up to 8th place proving guys certainly know how to make the purple beastie shift along.

  2. Zena says:

    Brilliant … read as I am cooking pasta for my kids. I now have a big smile on my face 🙂

  3. Paul says:

    By the look of the photo’s I’m pleased to see I’m not the only who has been in ‘fancy dress’ recently…Keep up the good work. April can’t come quick enough for me, although I think my trip will be lacking the weather you’re getting!!

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