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Two young scientists share their experiences doing fieldwork in remote Northeast Greenland, check out their blog

Food in the high-Arctic

When living in a remote field station, the meal options are limited by what ingredients you have in store. At Daneborg research station most of the food we have comes in cans or packages that have a long shelf life. We were lucky enough to have a couple boxes of produce that came up with us on the flight up. However, now into the third week this has all been used up. We also freeze weird things up here. Since coming here, we have found in the deep freezer: cream, cheese, butter as well as tons of meat and fish (all laying there since last year). We also have milk powder instead of real milk, much to Isolde’s disgust. Mie has imported a few long shelf-life milks, but only for coffee because they are expensive to send because of the weight.

While in the normal world you may throw out food that is past its best use date, here in the frozen north we happily eat cookies etc. that are only one or two years over date, as they are in a deep freeze all winter. Three years is where we usually draw the line though (depending on who’s cooking that night).

So how do we divide the cooking? Usually, every night, Mie and Mikael draft a plan for the next day and whoever is on the boat is usually home too late to cook, so someone volunteers after the plan is drafted. Everyone cooks, and bakes for each other. We bake bread every other day so we can pack lunches. The Danish people usually eat the dark rye bread, whereas our favorite is the Jaques-bread. A bread made by our French colleagues, from a very specific recipe.

Most of the things come in large portions, ready to serve a hoard of people. There is a lifelong supply of Nutella, that Isolde has done her best to reduce. But the attempt was futile. Now that we have such long and busy days – usually out in the cold, we eat more than usual. On sampling days, we usually demolish a pack or two of cookies. At this point in week three we are sick of constant bread and cookies. We suppose soon enough we will get back to the land of vegetables, and balanced meals, but for now it is cookies and vitamin pills.

We have a working relationship with the Sirius patrol who has their military base right next door to us. One day recently we invited them over for a kaffemik (coffee and cake), so we spent the good part of the morning baking several cakes for our neighbors. We were both a bit surprised/disappointed that these military men didn’t eat as much cake as we calculated. We later learned that they seem to be on a strict-ish food regime getting ready for the rations of sled dog touring.

Mikael had imported some tonic, as per his previous years of experience, it is possible to buy gin on the Icelandic airports, but not the tonic. Gin-tonics is our go-to drink here after a long sampling day, together with the French pastis (a French liquor drink based on anis). Both go together with ice. Glacial ice, we collected outside the fjord. We don’t have normal ice cube trays- and why would we when we have such access here in the frozen north?