Let's Talk About: Chow time

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One of the best things about the holidays is the food. Did you ever wonder how sailors out at sea get their food? Because there aren't any grocery stores in the ocean or gardens on a boat, whatever provisions a ship's crew members bring on board when they leave port is the only thing they have to eat while sailing.

Submarines such as USS Requin at Carnegie Science Center had about 80 men on board when they went to sea in the 1950s and 1960s. These 80 men had four meals a day: breakfast, lunch, dinner and an evening snack. They were on the ocean for about 75 days at a time. That means, over the course of a cruise, the two cooks on a submarine made 24,000 meals. They would bring four tons of food with them when they left port, and there isn't much room for storage on a submarine. There is a refrigerator, a freezer and a space to store bags, boxes and cans underneath the mess decks where the submariners ate, but that is enough room for only about half the food. Where did they keep the rest? Everywhere!

Sailors would stash food on every ledge, shelf and locker where there was free space. Sacks of potatoes and onions were stored in the showers, and there would be a layer of huge cans covering the floor. Submarines could stay out to sea only for as long as their food could last, so when the sailors were actually walking on the floor and not on cans, they knew it was time to go home. However, they didn't mind sharing their space. Food on submarines was some of the best in the Navy: That is one of the benefits of working on a submarine. USS Requin was famous in her squadron for the delicious cinnamon rolls the cooks made in her tiny kitchen.


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