Inside the weird food Ernest Shackleton and crew ate to surviveFebruary 19, 2023
Antarctica: Ernest Shackleton’s barrel restored by experts
We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info
Ernest Shackleton was born on February 15, 1874, into a world incomprehensibly different from the one we live in today. Social media, a now-explored globe, Netflix. The man once voted the 11th greatest Briton in history would have no idea how 2023 operated. And one area the Antarctica legend would also know little about would be cuisine.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Alexandra Shackleton, the explorer’s only granddaughter, detailed some of the bizarre food her grandfather was forced to eat as he traveled across the globe in some of the most disastrous conditions ever encountered.
“In lots of ways he was quite ahead of his time,” Alexandra said as she recalled Shackleton’s exploits while on his most fabled ship, Endurance. Endurance crashed in 1915, leaving its crew isolated in the wintry depths of the Antarctic.
While he managed to save the lives of many of his crew, Shackleton entered survival mode in order to protect them.
“Some of the men were superstitious and illiterate,” the 82-year-old said.
“One of the sailors, originally, wouldn’t eat penguins… well they had to because that was all they had because everyone knows that penguins contain the souls of lost sailors.”
For months Shackleton’s team lived on the ice of Elephant Island, an island some 800 miles from civilisation in South Georgia. The ice below them was slowly deteriorating, meaning their lives and that of the animals that inhabited parts of the island were too.
Alexandra explained that among the crew on Endurance’s original voyage were lots of dogs, and she remembered asking photographer Frank Hurley, the expedition photographer, about it.
She continued: “I really loved the stories of his expeditions. I grew up with Frank Hurley.
JUST IN: Ernest Shackleton’s final question to physicians moments before death
“I remember one particular Hurley (photograph). It showed a picture of the ship Endurance in the ice, the skeleton of the ship, and the dogs all around.
“And I asked one of the little girls from the family what happened to the dogs? And the grown-ups would never tell me until I found out eventually when I was old enough to know… they ate them.”
It is unsurprising that the Endurance crew would ultimately opt to eat their canine companions as starvation set in. But the food could also bring with it its own issues.
Frank Wild, Shackleton’s second-in-command on Endurance, was among the crew who succumbed to the brutal realities of eating food that was often decaying and not fit for human consumption.
The 30-year quest to search Yorkshire Atlantis from beneath the sea [INSIGHT]
The secret shame of Ernest Shackleton [ANALYSIS]
Antarctica mystery solved: Ernest Shackleton’s lost ship found [LATEST]
During their adventures together on Nimrod, the first of Shackleton’s three successful expeditions of the Antarctic, Wild became sick, leading Alexandra’s grandfather to make an incredible decision to save his number two.
“Frank Wild was the number two of the expedition had terrible diarrhea after eating rotting pony meat, which was all they had to eat,” Alexandra said.
“And while Wild struggled back on the painful struggle to the ship Nimrod, Wild wrote in his diary, ‘Before breakfast Shackleton gave me his only breakfast biscuit secretly and told me he would throw it away if I did not take it.
“‘No one will ever know what that meant to me. Thousands of pounds would not have brought me that biscuit.’ Now my grandfather didn’t even mention it in his diary. It makes me very proud.”
Incredibly, more than a century later one of Shackleton’s biscuits was sold at auction, with a bidder paying £1,250 for the treat in September, 2011.
A Huntley and Palmers snack, the biscuit somehow survived intact for 102 years, returning back from a hut used by Shackleton near the South Pole.
In his diary of the time, Wild wrote how the snack was eaten regularly by himself on the order of Shackleton as they headed back from their trip to the South Pole.
He wrote: “Shackleton privately forced upon me his one breakfast biscuit, and would have given me another tonight had I allowed him.
“I do not suppose that anyone else in the world can realise how much generosity and sympathy was shown by this; I DO by GOD I shall never forget it.”
Prior to its selling, Nicholas Lambourn, a spokesman for Christie’s in London, said the “biscuits played their part in the Nimrod expedition”, adding: “A lot were made and this one survived for over 100 years.”
Speaking about her grandfather’s achievements, Alexandra now spends her time preserving his legacy, including taking on her voyages across the globe.
She added: “I think his legacy can be summed up in one word: Leadership — the way he led his men… He did not just expect loyalty from them to him but he would be loyal to them, and he expected them to be loyal to each other and the expedition as a whole.”
Source: Read Full Article