For the first weekend after arriving on Curieuse Island, the staff prepare our meals whilst we are introduced to our lives for the next 2-12 weeks. From the first Monday onwards however, the reins are handed over to the volunteers. Each day, Monday to Friday, two volunteers from the group are tasked with preparing breakfast, lunch, dinner, and bread for all the other volunteers and staff on base. At first having to cook for a group of around 12-24 individuals can be overwhelming, but after everyone becomes familiar with the sheer quantity of food required for each meal, people’s creative streaks start to appear as they experiment with new and interesting ways to use the ingredients we have available.
The food we have on base is bought during the 2-3 weekly shopping trips, on our 8-seater boat Dexter, to Cote D’Or on the neighbouring island of Praslin. Due to the nature of island life, fresh fruit and veg is not particularly common and so the food shops generally consist of a large number of tins, and what fruit and veg we can get our hands on. It’s a weird sensation being excited to see a kiwi fruit or avocado, but island life does weird things to you… Despite the lack of some usually common foods (I’ve never known so many people to miss broccoli so much), Curieuse Island itself does provide a number of natural foods. There is an abundance of coconuts on the island, as well as a coconut spike used to remove the outer shell and husk from the nut within. There’s something really refreshing about going hunting for coconuts, bringing a bag full back to base, de-husking them, and then cracking them open to reach the water and flesh within, it really makes you appreciate the food so much more, and I swear it makes it taste so much better! There are also a number of bread fruit growing on base that Pete, our resident science coordinator, has roasted ready for us to make some real tasty breadfruit chips for the weekly BBQ’s we have on Fridays.
The weekly BBQ’s are an event that everyone on base looks forward to throughout the week. The day traditionally starts with a breakfast of pancakes, and later on all the volunteers and staff work together to create a plethora of dishes for everyone to feast on late into the evening. Everyone seems to go all out and create some really delicious and exciting food, including; the best guacamole I’ve ever tasted, Aaron’s famous potato salad with the best carrots you can imagine, bean burgers, cheesy garlic bread, chili, and rice dishes. This is then usually all followed by a dessert such as lemon cake, vegan coconut blondies, or ever chocolate brownies!
Cooking on base, and providing food for everyone, is a hugely rewarding experience, especially when the other volunteers decide your cooking is so good you should be chained to the kitchen and made to cook every meal.
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