In search of Christmas Dinner

Christmas comes but once a year – but this year might see us mid Atlantic with no freezer and far from the usual source of Christmas goodies. Thus the skipper (known now as Tufty since the infamous haircut) and the mate (aka Ms S Todd, ditto) have been putting much thought and research into what to eat.

Good idea number one was that generations of Portuguese and Spanish folk have relied on bacalau – salted cod to you and me – as a long lasting staple. Step one was to eat it in a restaurant in a tomato and onion and garlic sauce, and it was good. Step two was less promising as Lynda asked various Portuguese women how to prepare it – and to a man – no, perhaps that should be woman – they wrinkled up their nose and said “Dont bother!” In the supermarkets it seemed that the only people we saw buying it were even older than us. Google sugested soaking it for 3 days in various changes of fresh water and so we bought some and tried it. The smell is nothing short of grim – being a cross between spirits of ammonia and my deck shoes after a wet sail and sadly despite Ms Todd’s not inconsiderable culinary best efforts, thats the way it stayed, until that is it was slid over the side!

Next up was a plastic chicken – or what appears to be a half a chicken half cooked and then vacuum packed. The sell by date is a month hence which just about scrapes in. Last night was experiment No 2 – roasted plastic chicken, and very good it was too, so unless we can find a turkey version, it looks as if thats what we will be eating.

Lyndas bread and bicuits have been such a success that we are running short of flour, and unfortunatly in the Canaries most of what you can buy is known as Gofio flour – which has all sorts of cereals ground up in it as well as wheat. The resulting bread would have made a good policemans truncheon, and certainly needed stronger teeth than mine to gain access. Much better has been the local Mojo sauce to have with potatoes – made with garlic, peppers and herbs and worth taking along. Almogrote , a cheesy sauce with more garlic and peppers was perhaps less successful, but the local almond biscuits were a smash hit – so much so that we probably wont be taking them as they wouldnt last more than a minute.

Ms Todd is busy with lists and tomorrow sees us attempting to make our way from La Palma the island to Las Palmas the city (confusing I know, but the latter is on Gran Canaria – and importantly 150 miles to windward!) where the big stock up will begin. If we knew what we know now we would have stayed here or La Gomera and got the crew to join us, but flights have been booked so we will have to try to remember how to go to windward again and tough it out.


  1. Hi Phil and Lynda.

    In your search for food, don’t forget the obvious. There are plenty of fish in the sea for you to catch, cook and eat. Enough to satisfy the needs of someone like Ben.
    Also in Gran Canaria, I am sure you will find the remains of stocks brought in fro the ARC. You may even find some tins of FB steak and kidney pie!

    Enjoy the crossing. I look forward to reading about it.

  2. Hi Phil and Lynda,

    Salted cod can be good! Try it the Norwegian way. Last winter we salted (one week in strong brine solution) two 6 kilo cod (that we caught in our cod traps in February) and then dried them (hanging for six weeks outside in the cold winter). Last night Liv Jorunn and I ate one of the sides of salted cod. First soaking it for 24 hours with three changes of fresh water. Boiled for 30 minutes in new fresh water. Eaten with grilled bacon, boiled potatoes and diced carrots in white sauce. Cold beer is the only suitable drink – the amount depending somewhat on the residual salt content. Delicious!!

    We love reading your blogg!

    Best wishes for Christmas and the Altantic crossing.

    From Liv Jorunn and John

  3. John , are you sure that the TASTE doesnt depend on the amount of beer you have drunk? We entered into this in a positive spirit and were very dissapointed when it didnt go right. Perhaps we will have to wait before we come back to Norway and you can show us how to do it. Actually we notice the old folk here go through the piles of salt cod sniffing it before choosing the “best ” piece. I tried it and it all smellt grim to me . Maybe freeze dried Norwegian cod is a different beastie. However , if we have time we might have one more go before we leave , using your recipe! Best wishes , Philip

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