OTY: Are you what you eat? The cooks aboard the Tanana were determined to Make It So. Marty and Eddie were Diner ladies, queens of their galley. Food (and mostly high cholesterol food ) was plentiful. Marty and Eddie wanted us fatter and happier to replenish the calories burned up running around on deck, and keep us from grumbling about conditions, e.g. long hours, risky work conditions, and a bully Captain. What we ate turned us into diligent able-bodied River Rats. The diet was All-American. The red Meat and potatoes bulked us up. And the plethora of desserts sweetened the transition back to the work shift ahead. We praised our cooks (since making snide remarks would be like insulting your mother) and in return they adopted us into the rat nest.
OTA: I thought that I had seen bountiful spreads aboard the Tanana, but the AMAPur offered an obscene abundance of epicurean delights. Michele and I were so used to eating local dishes on our overland trips in SE Asia and India, that to have the option of of eating good ol’ American dishes seemed absurd. The safe gustatory options satisfied some traveler’s need to only partly immerse themselves in the culture. They did not want to get too far out of their comfort zone. And a few times, we wallowed in our comfort zone too – who is going to refuse ice cream sundaes? Eating local fare did not really turn us into participant observers, it only let us swallow the illusion that we shared some experiences with the local population as we floated by. Eating local was not acculturation. We would never be what we ate.