For Those Wondering

For those wondering whether Magellan carried salt as one of his provisions for his round-the-world voyage (1517 – 1521) . . .

The list of equipment shows utensils of iron and copper, and the provisions included seemingly ample quantities of wine, olive oil, vinegar, beans, lentils, garlic, flour, rice, cheese, honey, sugar, anchovies, sardines, salt cod, salt beef, and salt pork.
– Armada de Molucca, “The Great Explorers”, Samuel Eliot Morison

 . . . the answer is, “Yes, but integrated into cod, beef, pork, anchovies, and sardines.” Me, I might have traded some of that salted cod for more wine, since a vanishingly small amount of the former is a sufficiency for me, and what constitutes an ample amount of the latter is in the mouth of the drinker.

For those wondering whether it really *is* good to be the king (or, even, the captain general) . . .

One curious item is 35 boxes of carne de membrillo — quince jelly or preserve — for Trinidad [Ed’s note: Magellan’s flag ship], whilst other vessels rated but four boxes each.

. . . the answer is, “Yes. You don’t get scurvy whilst circumnavigating the globe. And you have something to hide the taste of salt cod.”

For those wondering whether there is any detail that is inherently too insignificant to be recorded for posterity and, then, pored over by historians . . .

The flagship, too, carried twice as many raisins as her consorts.

. . . the answer is, “No. After all, we know how many raisins were on all the ships in Magellan’s fleet, 500 years ago.”

Now, I don’t suppose that anyone 500 years from now will know or care how many raisins I now have in my pantry. Or boxes (full of jars?) of quince jelly, for that matter. But, given Google’s ominous reach and Big Data’s drive to predict behaviour for profit, who knows what details of my life might even now be being recorded for posterity? Not, I fear, the ones I might want recorded.

Maybe it’s better to just ‘fess up now. The raisin products in my pantry are from the grape part of the lifecycle, and it is just barely possible that I have twice as much stock as the other houses on this block.

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13 Responses to For Those Wondering

  1. Tom Watson says:

    Have you ever been to Newfoundland and tasted some of their delicious fish and brewis. Translate fish as “salt cod.”

    So I’d go with the salt cod, but please hold the anchovies.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – I have been to the Rock a few times but don’t think I’ve had that. Maybe it depends how (well) it’s prepared. I guess you have to soak out the salt first. But I’m with you on the anchovies. Hairy and salty.

  2. Tom Watson says:

    As far as I can recall, brewis is hard bread soaked in brine.

  3. Jim Robertson says:

    4kg of raisins, 1.8kg of craisins (dried cranberries, counts the same as raisins)

  4. Thank you for the gloss on “brewis.” Not that I’ve eaten any but references to the dish come up frequently in books and articles we’ve edited for presses in Newfoundland and Labrador.

    And I did not know that raisins could fend off scurvy. The citrus that gave British soldiers the moniker of “limeys” is better known. I don’t know the measure of my raisin supply by weight but I usually have two quart jars that I keep topped up in the cupboard. I also remember fondly the raisin pie my grandmother made but my family didn’t care for the idea. They are spoiled by the variety available these days. Growing up in the 1940s was more like living on one of Magellan’s ship, I guess.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – I might have made up the raisin thing, confusing scurvy and anemia. I just now looked it up, and two handfuls of raisins (say, 100 gms or about 2/3 cup) contain only about 2.3 mg of Vit C, against a daily recommended dose of about 90 mg for men. So that would need 26 cups of raisins a day. They’d have done better to eat 3 limes (~30 mg of Vit C each), if limes they had. Which they didn’t. And if they’d known. Which they didn’t, not until 1747, apparently, although they got the link with fresh food before that. And yes, we’re fussier now, I think, although our parents or grandparents might be surprised at the Magellan’s ship analogy. My guess is that the food-supply issues during the pandemic may reset our expectations and standards at least a little bit.

      • I think your guess is correct about the pandemic reset, Isabel. We’ve adapted to other disasters but with the strengths of youth. Dan, even in his diminished state — which is improving, by the way — has brought a welcome harvest into the freezer and kitchen cupboards. The wild grape jelly is special even if it’s not a daily dose of Vit C! But if climate change continues apace we’ll be able to raise lime trees among the apple!

        • Isabel Gibson says:

          Laurna – I think it might be a while before citrus trees grow in Ontario. More importantly, I’m delighted that Dan is improving.

  5. barbara carlson says:

    The Titanic carried 800 cases of shelled walnuts, 15,000 bottles of ale and stout, five grand pianos and 30,000 fresh eggs.

    The eggs, with their porous shells, can withstand the two tons per square inch pressure where they are now, and would still be edible, though salty.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – Good heavens. Some of that I understand, but the walnuts? What would that be for – tubs of Waldorf Salad?

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