Jose Mari Garai, cook aboard Alakrana.
They’re away. Yet we feel close to them. Our co-workers go out to sea for months at a time so they can bring us the quality tuna that Alakrana offers. Without them none of this would be possible. For a few months, their lives go on in the high seas. There are times to miss loved ones, times to laugh, to think and to eat. Jose Mari Garai, cook aboard Alakrana. He has answered our questions precisely from that vessel.
What’s for lunch today, Jose Mari?
Marmitako (fresh tuna stew), vegetable stew, fish… also pork ribs roast, grilled entrecôte. For dinner there’s going to be mixed salad, roast chicken and grilled sea bream. For desert rice pudding.
How much food is stored for the crew?
Every three months we get the frozen food. We use 250 kgs of steak, 150 kgs of entrecôt, 250 kgs of chicken, 100 kgs of chicken breasts, 60 kgs of kingclip, 80 of cod, about 900 kgs of rice. The order, which we get every six months, comes in 20 to 25 pallet.
What are the eating hours aboard a vessel?
The fishing may interfere with mealtimes, but we tend to have breakfast at daybreak, between 05:00 and 06:00. We have lunch at 11:30 and dinner at nightfall.
What’s the usual diet?
For the first course I tend to cook a legume dish, pasta or rice. I may also offer vegetables so there a choice between two dishes. For the second course I usually prepare two kinds of meat and fish. Tuna is always on the table. At dinnertime we start with a soup, a salad or vegetable puree. Then some meat or fish. The dessert is usually fruit or some dessert I cook myself.
What menu makes the crew happy?
Ask around and you´ll get different answers. Everyone likes Cuban-style rice or pizza, for instance. Then grilled meat and quality fish, which we have a lot of, are also well received. Generally speaking, I’d say just about everything on the menu is popular.
The messroom is more than a dining room, isn’t it?
That’s right. The messroom is where the crew comes to talk about how the day is going, to have a chat, to laugh and share moments. Even though we stay in touch with our families, at sea we have each other.
What can you tell us about tuna?
What can I tell you about tuna? It’s a staple. A true marvel. We can eat it fresh or frozen. Personally, I prefer the latter. Also grilled, or even raw in tatakis or sashimis, or in a marmitako…
What do you miss most when you are out at sea?
My family, mostly. I also miss my friends and going on hikes, which I absolutely love.
What do you like best about your job?
In the past I worked in restaurants. It was really stressful. Here we work hard, but I feel a lot calmer. I prepare the menu, organize everything and things go smoothly. And, of course, I love the holidays. Enjoying a four-month break is just wonderful. I’m blissfully happy here. The coronavirus has complicated everything, because we are not allowed to leave the boat when we call into a port, but that will pass. The end of this is drawing closer…