What happens if you try to cook food outdoors in Antarctica? As it turns out, it might not be the smartest way to grab a bite to eat.
What do people eat in Antarctica?
Being such a desolate place, it should come as no surprise that all supplies to any Antarctica-based research stations need to be shipped in. Some places, like the McMurdo station, are actually pretty large and can field anywhere up to a thousand people at any one time.
A research station of this size requires an army of cooks to keep them all fed. McMurdo actually has its own fully stocked galley for such a purpose.
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This allows the station's cooking staff to be able to supply food day or night and serve it in a buffet style. Staff, there are even treated to flat-top grills, meat-carving stations, sandwich bars, and areas reserved for desserts and bread.
“I think it is safe to say that McMurdo Station, Antarctica, had the largest St. Patrick’s Party in the world in 2020." https://t.co/lbyEVMOsjQ
— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) March 24, 2020
Fresh food, like fruit and vegetables, are a little scarce so far from civilization. They are usually only available at the beginning or end of the summer season when they supplied by cargo planes.
Smaller stations, like Concordia, do not have the resources of a monster like McMurdo, but, even so, staff their have a great selection of food to get them by. This station has specialist Italian cooks who prepare a lot of pasta, pizza, and risotto for staff.
But they do also have access to fish, frozen vegetables, and meat. The station is also equipped with some exotic meat like crocodile and kangaroo -- but these are only eaten on rare occasions.
— Engineering&Architecture | University of Trieste (@DiaUnits) March 7, 2020
It seems that far from living on instant noodles and other dried foods, researchers in one of the most inhospitable places on earth eat quite well. We are a little jealous.
Can you cook food outdoors in Antarctica?
While it may never have occurred to you, it is actually not possible to cook food outdoors in one of the coldest places on Earth. With ambient temperatures hovering around -94 degrees Fahrenheit, it is not the best place to practice your culinary talents.
It is so cold that any liquid components of food quickly freeze solid. With even the best will in the world and lightning-fast reactions, you would find it impossible to cook anything.
But this also works in your favor if you are required to work there. Perishable food can be stored frozen with relative ease -- just bury it under some snow outside.
So amazing is this phenomenon that some researchers based in Antarctica have taken to recording their failed attempts at cooking in Antarctica.
The results really need to be seen to be believed.
What are some examples of people trying to cook in Antarctica?
So, without further ado, here are some interesting, and funny, examples of people trying, but failing, to cook in Antarctica. This list is far from exhaustive and is in no particular order.
1. This is what happens if you try to pour honey onto some bread in Antarctica
J´ai enfin pris le temps de réunir les photos haute définition des aliments et autres surgelés à Concordia (Antarctique) et d´en ajouter quelques autres, comme beaucoup d´entre vous me le demandaient : https://t.co/b8p6qjDa2ipic.twitter.com/YrL4FupFtc— Cyprien Verseux (@CyprienVerseux) September 4, 2019
One such researcher is Cyprien Verseux, an astrobiologist working for ZARM in Antarctica. In this amazing example, he tried to pour some honey onto a piece of bread.
Both the honey and the bread were completely frozen within seconds. Quite incredible.
2. What happens if we tried to melt Raclette in Antarctica?
— Cyprien Verseux (@CyprienVerseux) October 7, 2018
Raclette, a semi-hard cheese, fairs little better in the frozen wasteland of Antarctica. After melting some a little and attempting to pour it onto a plate, the results are very interesting.
Just like the honey in the first example, it freezes solid mid-pour.
3. What about Nutella?
— Cyprien Verseux (@CyprienVerseux) October 4, 2018
Apparently, like the other examples above, even the nutty-cocoa-goodness of Nutella is no match for the freezing Antarctic air. As you can see from the image above, it too freezes solid within seconds.
4. Eggs also fail the Antarctica cooking test
— Cyprien Verseux (@CyprienVerseux) October 3, 2018
The land is so inhospitable in Antarctica that you will even struggle to fry some eggs outdoors. The eggs' yummy contents freeze solid almost as soon as they are cracked open.
5. Even spaghetti is frozen solid within seconds
— Cyprien Verseux (@CyprienVerseux) October 1, 2018
In the unforgivable outdoors of Antarctica, even spaghetti is no match for the freezing temperatures. While it is unclear whether the spaghetti was prepared indoors or not, when attempting to eat them you will be in for a massive disappointment.
6. Even boiling water alone freezes as soon as it leaves any containment vessel
— Cyprien Verseux (@CyprienVerseux) February 10, 2019
Even boiling water is no match for the freezing climate of the continent. As you can see in the video above, boiling water, when sprayed out of a bottle will freeze as soon as it touches the air.
7. Not food-related, but bubbles also freeze instantly
Ici, les bulles de savon gèlent presque instantanément. https://t.co/1xaGhc6kHw— Cyprien Verseux (@CyprienVerseux) October 11, 2018
And finally, while not food-related, we thought it would be interesting to include what happens to bubbles in the freezing Antarctica air. Many of them do freeze instantly, but others either burst or form plastic-like consistencies, hold, stiffen, and land.
"They freeze almost instantly. Some burst (depending on their freezing level, more like glass or soft plastic bulbs than you would expect at other latitudes). Others hold, continue to stiffen, and land." - Cyprien Verseux.