I’ve really avoided sitting down to write this. But, it’s time for the ground turkey story.
We’d buy ground turkey in frozen 5 pound white plastic wrapped torpedoes. Thawed, the pink, pulpy mush wasn’t too bad in recipes. The tubes needed to thaw a few days in the refrigerator, but were otherwise pretty easy to use.
I should mention, the cook & engineer on a ship are bound to butt heads. Electricity, fresh water, refrigeration & cooking fuel are scarce. The engineer gets PO’d if, say, the cook blows the power system with a coffeepot, starts a grease fire, clogs the drain or stresses the delicate heating and cooling systems at her disposal. The cook’s never thrilled when stuff breaks, especially should the engineer not believe her. If the engineer was a fussy eater to boot, look out.
So this one engineer and I did. not. play. well. together. Irish guy, mid-40s. Nothing worked right that trip, and I blamed him. No meal was quite to his taste, and he pestered me for extras. Always at the moment I was exhausted and hiding behind the counter, having just birthed yet another sitting’s (there were 6 a day) worth of food. For 40. I managed to make crepes (for 40!) one time? He wanted lemon wedges and powdered sugar. Yeeeeah.
For all our mutual animosity, there was one night in St. George’s Bermuda, after a lot of Dark & Stormys, when he wanted to dance to a roaring Irish waltz. Nobody was up for the ‘old fashioned’ dance or the rapid pace. He conceded to ask me largely due to a new dress and cutoff cowboy boots. The band was great, and I wasn’t about to miss the chance. Laughter at the unlikely pairing snuffed out fast as we got going. I floated. I flew. I thrilled. We danced too fast and wild to remain upright, but somehow didn’t fall. I had no clue what I was doing and I didn’t have to. He danced for me. If waltzing always feels like that I’m a damn fool not to have dedicated my life to it.
Shortly after, the ground turkey exploded.
The refer had run warm for days. I thought the system was failing but couldn’t convince anyone. The engineer was in twice a day rolling his eyes and blaming the temps on overcrowding, warmth from leftovers, too much opening the lid and everything else but the basic problem that it was no longer cooling down.
Predictably, a tube of ground turkey set in there just to thaw quickly rotted, swelled, and popped its white plastic skin. I slid from surprise to horror to fury when I saw what had happened. The smell left little doubt what that gunk was. Greenish pink tufts of wet mush clung to everything. There was smelly pulp on every food item and surface inside the refer, even clogging the drain at the far end. I called in the engineer, demanded to know if he believed me now, and then threw everyone out of the galley.
No clue what we ate next or how. It felt like it took hours to unload, wipe down, sanitize and dispose of all the rotting meat. That the bulk of it could go overboard was a small blessing, but I was traumatized, mean, and thoroughly pissed.
It was pretty bad.
But, it was not THE nastiest rotting food experience I ever had…
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