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Hoosh, the Survival Stew of Famed Antarctic Explorers

If you want to eat like a survivalist, you might want to brush up on the food taken on Antarctic expeditions a hundred years ago. There were no freeze-dried processed MREs, unless you count staples like the hardtack stocked on long voyages (consisting of flour and salt) and the Native American pemmican (dried meat, rendered fat, and sometimes fruit). While that may not sound appetizing, hunger is the best sauce.

“Pemmican was the only food source which could make [expeditions] happen, and was thus a prime mover of polar travel,” [author Jason C.] Anthony said. “The calorie requirement for the hardest polar sledging could be up to 10,000 [calories per day], though usually the hard days required about 6,500 — still more than the Tour de France, I think.”

Sounds great! Well, not so much “great” as “necessary.” Still fun. And, per Anthony, these aren’t necessarily hard and fast numbers.

“Generally the British expeditions provided each man 4,000 to 4,500 [calories per day]. Even modern adventurers have had trouble calculating the caloric needs,” he said. “I think it was Fiennes and Stroud ... who determined that the caloric deficit between what [explorers] burned and what they ate was the equivalent of what a normal person eats at home each day. In other words, they were starving.”

And if you were starving, there was nothing better than hooch, which was made from hardtack, pemmican, and snow. Get the recipes for homemade hardtack, pemmican, and hooch at The Takeout.

(Image credit: Karl Gustafson)


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