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Submarine Cuisine


Jason Perlow
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I don't know the correct term for it but I've read in fiction that submarines in combat situations occasionally need to become completely silent for days on end to avoid detection. Have you ever experienced this and does it hamper your cooking?

PS: I am a guy.

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  On my boat they don't really need to bring much else because I bring a lot of candy, popcorn, and other "geedunk" (junkfood) for them. 

First, I want to add my thanks as well.

Your word choice caught my eye, "geedunk." Is that mostly a navy term, or something you picked up from someone else? Curious, bc my Father-In-Law calls it that, too, and he's retired Navy Reserves.

Thanks!

-edited bc I can't type....

Edited by Allura (log)

Joanna G. Hurley

"Civilization means food and literature all round." -Aldous Huxley

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  On my boat they don't really need to bring much else because I bring a lot of candy, popcorn, and other "geedunk" (junkfood) for them. 

First, I want to add my thanks as well.

Your word choice caught my eye, "geedunk." Is that mostly a navy term, or something you picked up from someone else? Curious, bc my Father-In-Law calls it that, too, and he's retired Navy Reserves.

Thanks!

-edited bc I can't type....

Greetings, Chief,

Welcome to eGullet! I say this as a new member myself, although I have been lurking for a while before joining. I am no longer in the Navy; I was with NAVAIR, but also spent some time on board a destroyer, which is probably as close to sub-sized crew as the Navy gets. The food was quite good, but the destroyer cooks always seemed to have a chip on their shoulder, because some socially inept someone could always be counted on to say, “yeah, but it still is not as good as (fill in various sub numbers).” LOL, all legends have a core of truth…

Have you heard about the push to send Navy cooks to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA)? As I understand it, this was intended to both increase the quality of Navy cooking, and to enhance the career certification development of Navy food service personnel. I think this program was beta-tested a couple of years ago with one carrier group, but do not know if it was implemented Navy-wide.

Allura, the term “gedunk” originated with the sound that a vending machine makes as it delivers a drink or snack that you have selected and paid for. You put your money into the soda or soft drink machine, press the button for your selection, and… GEDUNK! Your snack or drink arrives. “Gedunk” ration definitions onboard ship seems to have evolved to include any quick-grab food not taken as a regular meal. It has become a noun, designating the snack food area or room. In recent years it sort of overlaps with what is still called MidRats, or Mid-Watch Rations.

MBC

Edited by MdBlueCrab (log)
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Chef, this is so fascinating! One question occurs to me: What is your sleeping schedule like? Do you have regular hours, or do you stagger them so that on some days, you're awake to supervise MidRats and on others, not?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I don't know the correct term for it but I've read in fiction that submarines in combat situations occasionally need to become completely silent for days on end to avoid detection. Have you ever experienced this and does it hamper your cooking?

The correct term is "ultra quiet" and yes we do occasionally have to do that. It doesnt only hamper cooking, it stops it altogether. We have to shut everything down and hand slice lunch meats and cheeses and just put out sandwiches. All of the off watch cooks go to bed and I stay up and feed the relieving watchstations. It doesn't happen a lot, but it does happen.

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  On my boat they don't really need to bring much else because I bring a lot of candy, popcorn, and other "geedunk" (junkfood) for them. 

First, I want to add my thanks as well.

Your word choice caught my eye, "geedunk." Is that mostly a navy term, or something you picked up from someone else? Curious, bc my Father-In-Law calls it that, too, and he's retired Navy Reserves.

Thanks!

-edited bc I can't type....

Greetings, Chief,

Welcome to eGullet! I say this as a new member myself, although I have been lurking for a while before joining. I am no longer in the Navy; I was with NAVAIR, but also spent some time on board a destroyer, which is probably as close to sub-sized crew as the Navy gets. The food was quite good, but the destroyer cooks always seemed to have a chip on their shoulder, because some socially inept someone could always be counted on to say, “yeah, but it still is not as good as (fill in various sub numbers).” LOL, all legends have a core of truth…

Have you heard about the push to send Navy cooks to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA)? As I understand it, this was intended to both increase the quality of Navy cooking, and to enhance the career certification development of Navy food service personnel. I think this program was beta-tested a couple of years ago with one carrier group, but do not know if it was implemented Navy-wide.

Allura, the term “gedunk” originated with the sound that a vending machine makes as it delivers a drink or snack that you have selected and paid for. You put your money into the soda or soft drink machine, press the button for your selection, and… GEDUNK! Your snack or drink arrives. “Gedunk” ration definitions onboard ship seems to have evolved to include any quick-grab food not taken as a regular meal. It has become a noun, designating the snack food area or room. In recent years it sort of overlaps with what is still called MidRats, or Mid-Watch Rations.

MBC

I have heard of a few people actually going to the CIA but I don't think the Navy is going to do that for all its cooks. I went for a two week course, but that was as a reward for winning the NEY award (Best Food Service in the Submarine Fleet). I do know that they are starting to send more and more cooks to civilian culinary schools (I don't know the name, but there is one they send them to in Chicago). And navy food service is starting to try to teach us more in the Civilian manner to help with employment on the outside world. There is a lot of bias in the civilian community against military cooks. We aren't exactly known as world class chefs!

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Chef, this is so fascinating! One question occurs to me: What is your sleeping schedule like? Do you have regular hours, or do you stagger them so that on some days, you're awake to supervise MidRats and on others, not?

What sleep? LOL.

The crew operates on 18 hour day, while my cooks and I work on a 24 hour schedule. I stay up for the service of all four meals and try to sleep between mid rats and breakfast. The crew stands a 6 hour watch. They wake up, eat, and then go on watch for 6 hours. They then get relieved by the next next section, go down to eat, then do whatever maintenence or qualifications, training, clean up, etc for the next 6 hours. Then they go back to bed for 6 hours. They get up and repeat the process. They work the 18 hour workday so they aren't standing the same watch all the time. My guys work the 24 hour schedule so that we have a meal prepared and ready to serve every 6 hours for the oncoming and off going sections.

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Chief

I have thoroughly enjoyed your thread. By way of introduction, I was supply and commissary officer on a diesel boat in the mid 60’s. One thing you don’t have to contend with is the cycling of the snorkel head valve and attendant rapid variation in pressure within the boat which raises havoc with breadmaking. Also, with the relatively large amount of storage space on modern boats, you don’t need to store boxes of food on the decks as we did when going out for over thirty days. Our coffee and sugar were packaged in large tins and kept outboard the diesel engines. And potatoes could be kept in the space between the after battery compartment topside hatch and the depth charge “doubler hatch” about four feet below. We also used to fill the showers stalls with fresh beef and eat steak for the first week underway. No need for showers until the night before entering port anyway!

Regarding the term “Gedunk, ” it refers to ice cream, candy, potato chips, and other snack foods, as well as to the place on a ship [i.e. one large enough to have a ship store such as destroyer or cruiser] where these items are sold. The first known published usage of the term "gedunk" in a non-naval context is in a 1927 comic strip which refers to "gedunk [ice cream] sundaes."

Usage of the pejorative term "gedunk sailor" to refer to an inexperience sailor apparently dates to 1941.

The origin of the word gedunk is uncertain, though it has been suggested it derives from a Chinese word referring to a place of idleness, or a German word meaning to dunk bread in gravy or coffee.

Another boat sailor

KAYSWV's other half sends

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Chief

I have thoroughly enjoyed your thread.  By way of introduction, I was supply and commissary officer on a diesel boat in the mid 60’s.  One thing you don’t have to contend with is the cycling of the snorkel head valve and attendant rapid variation in pressure within the boat which raises havoc with breadmaking.  Also, with the relatively large amount of storage space on modern boats, you don’t need to store boxes of food on the decks as we did when going out for over thirty days. Our coffee and sugar were packaged in large tins and kept outboard the diesel engines. And potatoes could be kept in the space between the after battery compartment topside hatch and the depth charge “doubler hatch” about four feet below.  We also used to fill the showers stalls with fresh beef and eat steak for the first week underway.  No need for showers until the night before entering port anyway!

Regarding the term “Gedunk, ” it refers to ice cream, candy, potato chips, and other snack foods, as well as to the place on a ship [i.e. one large enough to have a ship store such as destroyer or cruiser] where these items are sold. The first known published usage of the term "gedunk" in a non-naval context is in a 1927 comic strip which refers to "gedunk [ice cream] sundaes."

Usage of the pejorative term "gedunk sailor" to refer to an inexperience sailor apparently dates to 1941.

The origin of the word gedunk is uncertain, though it has been suggested it derives from a Chinese word referring to a place of idleness, or a German word meaning to dunk bread in gravy or coffee.

Another boat sailor

KAYSWV's other half sends

DBF! My granddad was a smokeboat guy and my dad's first boat was a smoke boat in the late 60's.

We do still have to store cases of food on the deck and store cans of coffee and flour (the 35 lb type) in the engine room and #10 cans on the deck of the forward compartment. Definitely no storing beef in the showers, the ST's would have a fit! (ST's mean Sonar Technicians whom we lovingly refer to as Shower Tech's due to thier apparent love of the "rain locker"). We will put the potatoes and onions in fan rooms (where the air is recirculated through the boat) and have been known to strap them up in the overheads.

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. . . . .

Believe it or not, the fish aren't the noise offenders.....its the SHRIMP.  Imagine 5000000000000000 people snapping thier fingers at the same time and that is what it sounds like.  If only I could drag a net....we would be eating WELL that night!

:laugh: Well . . . If you have a bunch of really smart guys with time on their hands, no telling what they will come up with. (Been there, done that.) I have a vision of a high tech shrimp net deployed out of a torpedo tube or something like that. :laugh:

. . . . .

And navy food service is starting to try to teach us more in the Civilian manner to help with employment on the outside world.  There is a lot of bias in the civilian community against military cooks.  We aren't exactly known as world class chefs!

That is about the stupidest thing I have ever heard. I would think that guys that pull off what you do every day, have the planning skills that you have developed, would be absolute gold in any kitchen. If I ever win the lottery and get to have my own butler/chef (think Fritz in the Nero Wolfe books) I want one of you!

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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BubbleheadChef,

Thank you so much for your service and also for this fascinating thread. It has been very interesting reading about your experiences. Since no else has said this, yet, and it is Dec 2nd, I feel it is my duty, having spent some time at the USMA, to say, Go Army! Beat Navy! Do you havy any special food for the big game?

M. Thomas

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First, let me thank you for your service. Second, may I say this is a fascinating thread!

You mentioned upthread about rolling/pitching. Does this ever come unexpectedly and cause a big mess (i.e. soup kettle sloshes hot soup everywhere?) If you know in advance to expect it, does it ever make you change the menu?

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Wow, it seems the Navy is a very condiment heavy crowd! Look at that selection.

John

For those of you interested in what the mess hall of an attack sub looks like, there is a photo of the one aboard the USS Tucson, SSN-770, a Los Angeles class, towards the middle of this page:

http://www.navsource.org/archives/08/08770b.htm

John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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BubbleheadChef,

Thank you so much for your service and also for this fascinating thread.  It has been very interesting reading about your experiences.  Since no else has said this, yet, and it is Dec 2nd, I feel it is my duty, having spent some time at the USMA, to say, Go Army! Beat Navy!   Do you havy any special food for the big game?

GO NAVY BEAT ARMY

We usually do steak dinner and offer assorted amuse....remember, mostly blue collar types, especially at the Chiefs Club which is where I will be spending Army/Navy Day. I tried to do some different things once but was almost drummed out of there. So it is mostly chicken wings, mozzarella stics, and "pub grub". Not exactly haute cuisine, but when you are washing it all down with more beer than any sane group of people should EVER consume, you want to keep it simple.

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First, let me thank you for your service. Second, may I say this is a fascinating thread!

You mentioned upthread about rolling/pitching. Does this ever come unexpectedly and cause a big mess (i.e. soup kettle sloshes hot soup everywhere?) If you know in advance to expect it, does it ever make you change the menu?

LOL, yes lots of big messes. In fact, on the 22nd of November we were getting ready to pull back into Groton (where I am stationed) and we had to surface in LARGE seas. We were taking 20-30 degree rolls with 10-15 degree pitching. Unfortunately, they decided to do this right before the meal started and didn't tell us. So, needless to say, things were flying. Then, just as the Captain walked into the wardroom, a soup pot with 1.5 gallons of hot tomato soup went FLYING across the room. We're talking 10 feet through the air. At about the same time, a 6" half pan full of chocolate mousse launched itself from the serving line on the enlisted side of the mess. The Skipper took one look at it and said, "I think I'll skip lunch today". We spent close to 3 hours cleaning that up. It sucks, but it is all part of the job. It's actually kind of funny when you look back on it, but not so funny while cleaning it up. I have easily a hundred of those stories, but they are all pretty much the same so I'll just post the most current one.

Even if we know it is going to be a big sea state (sea state=how rough it is), we just try to prep earlier so there are less things out. I do have to secure (turn off) my deep fat fryer in anything over 12 foot seas so that I don't expose the coils and start a fire. We then just start oven frying instead if we can. If not, we may just drop the menu item and do something else.

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Obviously, you have a bit of time to answer this pile of questions, which brings to mind something that I have noticed with the servicemen in the Middle East.

What is you access to the internet while you are at sea? Are you able to log on at certain times of the day, or not at all while you are underway?

Are you using ships computers or do many of the sailors have laptops?

Thanks again,

Brooks

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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do many of the sailors have laptops?

Only when they sit...

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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Obviously, you have a bit of time to answer this pile of questions, which brings to mind something that I have noticed with the servicemen in the Middle East.

What is you access to the internet while you are at sea? Are you able to log on at certain times of the day, or not at all while you are underway?

Are you using ships computers or do many of the sailors have laptops?

Thanks again,

Brooks

I am on leave right now, because I am in the middle of a transfer to a different boat (from the USS Virginia to the USS Dallas), but while out to sea we dont have internet access (not many WiFi hotspots under the ocean), but we do have an email server dedicated to communicating with our families. That is a fairly new thing, when I first got on submarines, the only way we had to communicate was a telegram type message called a Family Gram. It was limited to 40 words and we couldn't send them out, we could only recieve them from our families. The land based soldiers and Marines do have limited access to the internet from thier base camps, but it is ridiculously overcrowded (50 computers for 1,000 guys). I can't knowledgeably talk about what that is like, as I have never been but my mother, aunt, and uncle are all in Kuwait working for the Army (contractors, not active duty) and that is the gouge I get from them.

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do many of the sailors have laptops?

Only when they sit...

A lot of guys bring laptops with them but use them for games while underway. When we get into port, no matter where in the world, there is usually a WiFi hotspot they can use to log on and surf the 'net. I, however, am not one of those guys, I choose to spend my money on food rather than technology. The memories I have of Rota, Spain, Haifa, Israel, Palma Di Majorca, La Maddelena, Italy, Corfu, Greece, Aksaz, Turkey and the rest of the places I have been are much richer for not having sat in an internet Cafe.

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Alright, been reading all this and truly amazed, but i gotta weigh in for the surface guys. The Navy undoubtedly spends an incredible amount of time with its food service programs. All of it well appreciated by service members. I can't remember what they were called but there was even a group of chiefs that would inspect adn help improve your program. NFMT? maybe? I had an associates in culinary when i joined, so Navy "A" school in San Dog was kind of a joke, but it gave solid fundamentals to those who were stepping foot in an industrial kitchen for the first time. I was a Ney runner up twice(once ashore,once afloat), so i got to take two trips to the CIA that i still haven't forgotten. As someone who is now a food service program director, i know that i would be hard pressed to find someone as perfect for a kitchen position than a military-trained chef. Think of it. Someone who can obviously work under pressure, adapt quickly to changes, think outside the box, and someone who was always in uniform and squared away, less the galley sup have a talk with him. Best of luck to you bubblehead, and i am so glad to see that they finally did away with Mess Management Specialist.

MS2(sw)

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Alright, been reading all this and truly amazed, but i gotta weigh in for the surface guys.  The Navy undoubtedly spends an incredible amount of time with its food service programs.  All of it well appreciated by service members.  I can't remember what they were called but there was even a group of chiefs that would inspect adn help improve your program.  NFMT? maybe?  I had an associates in culinary when i joined, so Navy "A" school in San Dog was kind of a joke, but it gave solid fundamentals to those who were stepping foot in an industrial kitchen for the first time.  I was a Ney runner up twice(once ashore,once afloat), so i got to take two trips to the CIA that i still haven't forgotten.  As someone who is now a food service program director, i know that i would be hard pressed to find someone as perfect for a kitchen position than a military-trained chef.  Think of it.  Someone who can obviously work under pressure, adapt quickly to changes, think outside the box, and someone who was always in uniform and squared away, less the galley sup have a talk with him.  Best of luck to you bubblehead, and i am so glad to see that they finally did away with Mess Management Specialist.

MS2(sw)

Yes, we still have the NFMT (Navy Food Management Team). They come down and "assist" with your operation. I really don't care for most of them, while some of the individuals are absolutely top shelf. The problem with most of the members of the Teams are the fact that they aren't really in touch with what is REALLY good food and service. For example, the last time they visited my boat, I had points deducted for not garnishing my serving line. They wanted me to make little palm trees from bell peppers, carrots, and potatoes. Kind of funny and something I would teach a child to get them interested in the Culinary Arts, but certainly not something I am going to do for grown men. When I protested that I can't really afford to spare what little fresh vegetables I had for a "garnish" (ok, a little white lie, but they dont have to know that), they the proceeded to take paprika and dehy parsley out of my spice locker and "garnished" my steam line with it. In reallity, it appeared as if they just dumped this stuff on my line to make it look like a red and green mess. It really did look like I had spilled to containers of spices on my line. When I protested again, they just kept taking points off my score and finally I just kicked them off my boat. They kept yelling about how I would never win the competition we were in (the ADM Ney awards) if we don't "garnish" our line, blah blah blah. I wonder how dumb they felt when we proceeded to win it two years in a row?

I absolutely agree with "A" school being a joke for me, but it was really good at getting the guys who had never held a knife to get used to a commercial kitchen. i also agree with the statement that military cooks make a great addition to any brigade, but unfortunately there is a lot of wasted talent because the guys that get out or retire dont know how to or dont want to be in a kitchen anymore. You have to love this job or it will eat you alive.

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I had points deducted for not garnishing my serving line.  They wanted me to make little palm trees from bell peppers, carrots, and potatoes.

When I was in Basic Training and A school for the Army, we had the same stupid crap happening.

What the hell are they thinking? The army food served in training is CRAP and there is nothing that a radish rose or tomato tulip can do to make chili mac taste better.

I don't understand why they think it is important to spend time garnishing food when it can be better spent putting more care into the preparation.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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I had points deducted for not garnishing my serving line.  They wanted me to make little palm trees from bell peppers, carrots, and potatoes.

Oooh two points for bubblehead. I forgot all about the law of garnish. It gives a "fun" atmsosphere to all sailors. Isn't that in the P-7 somewhere? As someone who is now in institutional food service(500 boarding students, 3 meals a day), i can tell you that they would really appreciate paprika sprinkled all over their food. :biggrin:

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The new push is civilian partnerships so we are getting away from the "traditional" military techniques. I think that is really making a huge difference in Navy food service (I cannot vouch for the other services, but I imagine it is the same). We are now doing a lot of different programs with civilian partners. The three that stick out in my head are: Food Service Internships with Local businesses (usually 2-4 weeks), Chef at Sea (where a certified chef will actually come out on a ship/submarine and conduct training, and Hometown Sponsor (I think it is a submarine thing) where we will partner with a restaurant/chef in the City/State we are named after i.e. the USS Dallas has a partner in Dallas, TX and the USS Kentucky has a partnership with a chef in Louisville, KY. Amazing programs resulting in a much higher quality military cook.

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  On my boat they don't really need to bring much else because I bring a lot of candy, popcorn, and other "geedunk" (junkfood) for them. 

First, I want to add my thanks as well.

Your word choice caught my eye, "geedunk." Is that mostly a navy term, or something you picked up from someone else? Curious, bc my Father-In-Law calls it that, too, and he's retired Navy Reserves.

Thanks!

-edited bc I can't type....

"Geedunk" was coined in the early part of the 20th Century in a comic strip, referring to a type of icecream sundae. See here for the "official" U.S. Navy etymology. It was in still in common use in the 1960s when I went to sea.

He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise. --- Henry David Thoreau
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