What’s on the Table

If you don’t post pictures of your meals on your blog, is it even a blog? So here goes:

What’s on the table, week seven.

Albert always has a smile [Credit: Sarah Kachovich]
As we approach the end of the expedition, a lot of conversations often drift to what food we are going to eat when we get off the ship. The chefs on board treat us well and make great food. It is impressing the amount of planning going into feeding 126 people from all over the world for 58 days without any new supplies. To mention a few, their order list before the expedition included 1000 kg chicken, 330 kg pineapple, 375kg butter and 86kg peanut butter. But after almost two months, beyond the limits of fresh food, one starts missing certain things. We are all in the same boat (literally) when it comes to feeling a bit homesick at this point. At the 3 am/pm breaks, the scientist have all the pastries, salad, and soup bar at their disposal, and it has become an art to assemble the perfect “between meal” snack. With pickled onions, balsamic oil, cheese, peanut butter, apples, and pears, one can create a Michelin star-worthy appetizer.

Lava cake [Credit: Sarah Kachovich]
From the beginning of the expedition, the weeks have been numbered in lava cakes. Keeping track of time and day on the ship is hard, but every Saturday like clockwork, you can order lava cakes and know another week has successfully passed. My new favourite measure of time. To compensate for the calorie-rich rich foods, we go to the gym or attend yoga led about 5 times per week by palaeomagnetist Lisa Tauxe. In yoga, “table top” pose is a popular one, stretching out hardworking stiff shoulders and spines.

When we are not eating, sleeping, doing yoga, or making silly puns, we are yet again clustered around other tables: the core description and core sampling tables. The same question—”What’s on the table?”—is frequently asked of the core description team. Discussions can get heated over the core tables. Greyish-green or greenish-grey, in situ compacted sediment or iceberg rafted debris (IRD)? To find out more, we will need to bring samples home for further analysis.

“Geochemists to the sampling table, please,” is often heard over the intercom in various creative ways to keep it interesting. Over the sampling table, scientists can carefully choose the intervals with the best characteristics for their measurements and sample the appropriate sediment. In the palaeontologist’s corner of the lab, the table of biostratigraphic ages is our biggest attraction. Scientists all the way from physical properties come to marvel at our table. This table displaying the first and last occurrence of microfossils, together with magnetic reversals, ties ages to the hundreds of meters of sediment cored from the seafloor.

Mo and Michelle at the sampling table [Credit: Frida Snilstveit Hoem]
As I write, there are (non-edible) biscuits of colour-banded silty clay on the core table, and down in the galley, pizza is being prepared. Everyone is tripping with excitement while, not as excitingly, we are also tripping up pipe so the ship can move freely if the iceberg headed our way is on a collision course. Compared to everyday life, life on the JR truly has a very different (table of) contents, which in its simplicity and productivity I will miss. But right now, it will be good to get home where my table will be filled with fresh veggies, fruit, salad, flowers, and no mud for a while. It is definitely still on the table to apply to sail again in the future.

L to R: Yuji, Lisa, Iván, Frida, Stephanie at the table of biostratigraphic ages [Credit: Marlo Garnsworthy]

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