Captain Cook’s rations & mess
Captain James Cook provisioned his ship for a two year journey. He expected to supplement these rations with indigenous fare. Adequate fresh water and antiscorbutics to ward away scurvy played critical roles in his success.
“In his journal for July 1772, Cook gives the following account of the provisions placed aboard the Resolution and Adventure…Biscuit, flour, salt beef, salt pork, beer, wine, spirit [distilled alcohol], pease [dried peas], wheat, oatmeal, butter, cheese [hard], sugar, oyle olive [olive oil], vinegar, suet, raisins, salt, malt, sour krout [sauerkrout], salted cabbage, portable broth [dessicated soup], saloup, mustard, mermalade [marmelade] of carrots, water…”
—Sailors & Sauerkraut: Excerpts from the Journals of Captain Cook’s Expeditions All Pertaining to Food With Recipes to Match, Barbara Burkhardt, Barrie Andugs McLean & Doris Kochanek [Grey’s Publishing:Sidney BC] 1978 (p. 23)
Where live animals were taken on board?
Yes. “…cows, sheep, pigs, chickens…The live-stock was for leaving on desert islands needful of such provender and the poultry was to provide eggs during the voyage.”
—Sailors & Sauerkraut (p. 12)
Could the crew bring their own food on board?
Yes. Generally, the higher the rank, the more “personal” food was packed. This was a matter of economy (wealthy people could afford to supply their own consumables) and space (officer’s quarters were roomier than regular crew).
“Individuals, particularly the officers, supplemented their needs with personal provisioning; this might be Madeira [a sweet wine] brought on board for their own use. In the case of the crew…it was usually what serendipity delivered into their laps: lying fish or tired albatross.”
—Sailors & Sauerkraut (p. 15-16)
What was a typical weekly menu for the crew? “Each man was allowed every day one pound of Biscuit [thick, hard cracker] as much small Beer [very low alcohol] as he can drink or a pint of Wine, or half a pint of Brandy, Rum, or arrack [alcoholic beverage], they will have besides on
Monday. Half a pound of Butter, about ten ounces of Cheshire Cheese and as much boiled Oatmeal or Wheat as the can eat.
Tuesday. Two 4 pound pieces of Beef, or one four pound piece of Beef three pounds of Flour and one pound Raisins or half a pound of suet.
Wednesday. Butter and cheese as on Monday and as much boild Pease as they can eat.
Thursday. Two 2 pound pieces of Pork with Pease.
Friday. The same as Wednesday.
Saturday. The same as Tuesday.
Sunday. The same as Thursday.
—Sailors & Sauerkraut (p. 23-24)