Cooking on a yacht or Cruisine is what I call cooking afloat under sail. Cruising cooking is above all an exercise in patience, ingenuity, experimentation and adaptation while using new ingredients in strange places and often under difficult circumstances in a small and moving galley. As in every sport, good nutrition and a balanced diet are vital.
Many moons ago I published The Great Cruising Cookbook which expressed my love of good food when afloat and lessons learned when cooking on a cruising yacht. I wanted to call the book Cruisine but the publisher had other ideas. It is still available on Amazon and elsewhere. Far too many people miss out when cruising and you can achieve all of your dietary goals, and at the same time avoid a life of cans, processed food with some adaptability and for some bravery. Of course you get to choose whatever food regime you like, I am not here to tell you how to suck eggs, but I hope this opens your eyes to some alternatives.
Yacht cruising and cooking on a yacht can really put you back in touch with your taste buds. Remember what fresh food used to taste like before processing came along? Cruising cooking is an exercise in improvisation, being bold enough to use relatively strange raw materials in foreign places under difficult circumstances. So hopefully this is a variety of simple recipes and food ideas that steers you away from a life of cans, or bland food covered with sauces. It doesn't have to be like that. Be bold, if in doubt then definitely try it. You will be surprised.
"Here's a book to hurl at
the culinary barbarian on your crew, though it's a lot more than a simple
defense against indigestion....John Payne, who writes with wit and clarity,
makes the business of learning to be a good sea cook much more entertaining
than it might otherwise be....All in all, this is an excellent guide to the
task of providing good food afloat. Payne includes a lot of
basic-but-need-to-know stuff, like: what kind of fruits and vegetables keep and
how long, how to (really!) catch fish, galley equipment, safety, on board
gardening (sprouting), and hundreds of really excellent recipes. I've tried a
number of them, and I haven't hit a dud yet. In fact, I'd go so far as to
recommend this cookbook to folk who never go cruising at all; it's that
"Written to keep the cruiser away from a life of cans and processed food, with over 350 recipes, a worldwide provisioning guide, rough weather cooking, and a tropical fruit guide, his cookbook is the cookbook to have onboard. It addresses nutrition and provides methods for improvising and provisioning in strange places." Latitudes & Attitudes Magazine
Cooking on a yacht and the resultant cookbook was always the ultimate in self indulgence, and I had to be careful not to focus on my favourite foods too much, even though I did to a certain extent. Nevertheless, it was the result of many years of accumulating and adapting various recipes, and as such it is really an effort of experimentation. I have been at sea most of my life, living in some great places and experimenting with so many cuisines. My love of food has led me into some interesting part time jobs as a kitchen hand to some great restaurant chefs. Then I knew how much I had to learn. When I first went to sea as a 20 year old marine electrician I signed on to an old English tramp freighter. I was as naïve as anyone about food, and the Master asked me after I signed the ships articles whether I liked Indian curry and before I had time to answer, he said, well you better like it otherwise you are going to die! The 40 odd crew and half my fellow officers were Indian, or Sri Lankan, Malaysian, Chinese. Suffice to say after several years of that, Indian and Bengali cuisine remain my favorite even today.
Whilst the Great Cruising Cookbook is still available these updated extracts are just as important and worth reviving and sharing as they were back then. Let’s look at the various important factors for cooking on a yacht while on board and cruising.
Galley Equipment – This is all about cooking fuels, ovens, pressure cookers, woks, cookware, microwaves, refrigeration, water filters, galley safety, galley cleaning, trash disposal and more. Cooking on a yacht is easier with the right equipment.
Provisioning – This is all about planning with practical information on how to preserve food, and how to store it properly. Some advice on making a provisioning checklist, some suggested herbs and spices, a bit about handling eggs, condiments and fresh food substitutes, advice cooking oils and a really useful worldwide provisioning guide, updated as much as possible.
Seafood – Of course it goes without saying that cruising that seafood is a major player when cruising and this has lots of useful information on how to catch them and many really great recipes for fish, octopus, squid, crab, prawns, lobster, mussels, oysters, conch, canned fish and more. Also a section on Ciguatera Poisoning. The experienced cruiser always heads for the nearest public fish market, well I do at least. Usually it’s straight off the fishing boat and I tend in some places to simply make going there a daily routine.
Rice and Pasta. The backbone and mainstay of cruising food and here is some good information on rice types and cooking methods, as well as many great rice and pasta based recipes. There are so many pasta types as well as many delicious recipes and pasta sauces ideas.
Legumes – Some very practical information and cooking methods, as well as many quick and easy to make recipes. This is all about the various bean types such as red beans, navy beans, lentils, chick peas and more and how to make quick, low cost and nutritious meals. Cooking on a yacht always has a budget and making low cost meals is a challenge.
Vegetables – This is useful information on the plethora of vegetables available around the world. This includes tubers and leaf vegetables. There are many great vegetarian recipes for corn, potato, tomatoes, okra, sweet potato, yams, breadfruit, zucchini, taro and pumpkins. Serious cruisers always head for the nearest public market to replenish with and many of these seasonal and relatively cheap foods. Again shopping for fresh becomes a daily routine when anchored somewhere nice. Fresh works well when cooking on a yacht.
Fruit – Some useful information and a tropical fruit guide, from Acerola to Sapodilla and Ugli. Understand what you are looking at in the market and what you can do with it. Great recipes for eggplant, pineapples, papaya, mangoes, avocados, coconuts and bananas. I spent some time in Brasil and got addicted to their Amazonian fruit smoothies known as Fruto da Amazonas Sucos and Vitaminas Naturais. Try Guarana, açaí and banana. Some of these had several fruits and thanks to my friend Cremildes from Manaus for all the great food ideas. Click here for my Brasil Cruising Guide that I put together over the years.
Baking - Breakfast Ideas - Rough Weather Foods - Sauces, Dips and Marinades – Pickles and Curries. There is much practical information and recipes on making breads, muffins, scones, waffles, puddings, cookies, biscuits, cakes and tarts if you are that way inclined. Some really useful and quick breakfast ideas and recipes to keep the crew happy and content. Cooking on a yacht and rough weather cooking is a challenge, with practical information and recipes to keep the energy levels up when the going gets rough. All about my favorite food, and some foolproof ways to make delicious Indian food, seafood, meat and vegetarian. Also recipes for some great salsas and marinades to pep up things. Also how to make pickles from that cheap market fruit and vegetables.
One of the great joys of cruising is the swapping and collection of interesting recipes from other cultures and cruisers, making cooking on a yacht easier. There is always someone with a great little recipe or hint that makes life that much easier or more enjoyable. Western cuisine has over centuries based many of its recipes and raw materials and tastes on the rewards of early explorers and sailors. These explorers and voyagers discovered new fruits, vegetables and spices, and then sailed home with them and incorporated them into their respective cooking national styles. Cruising and eating local foods is a retracing of those early voyages, and as such is part of the fun and lure of cruising. Cooking on a yacht can be fun. Bon Appetite & Bon Voyage