Simon Spalding – Food At Sea (2014)

I was incredibly lucky to hear about this book

I was incredibly lucky, that I heard about Simon Spalding’s book – Food At Sea. I am also happy to say that I heard about the existence of this fantastic book from the author himself. Simon Spalding is one of the most famous shantymen. The author is a shanty singer, known not only in Poland but also around the world in the great community of shanty enthusiasts. Simon is a very experienced sailor (his experience was gained mainly on traditional big sail vessels). He is also a musicologist, a multi-instrumentalist, and a historian. We can say renaissance man (basically, he is an American twin of our National Polish Shantyman Marek Szurawski).

Noticable is that he has had the privilege of singing with the most famous shantyman known ever, Stan Hugill. But this is not what this book is about. The book is the largest compendium of knowledge ever published about food in the vessels on the seas and oceans.

What we can find in Simon Spalding – Food At Sea

In the book, the author describes it in the smallest detail. The book tells what types of dishes and food were part of the diet of a sailor, captain, or passenger. Starting from the first centuries, through the glorious period of the War of the great armadas of the Middle Ages. Also, there are chapters about the nineteenth-century diet of merchant seamen. The book not ending there. The next chapters tell about the food on large transatlantic liners to modern ships, including nuclear submarines.

The book is fantastically complemented by a chapter, with real recipes. We can find there the method of preparing the dishes that the author describes in his book. Dishes such as a rat dish or sea biscuits; as well as three ways to prepare grog. All recipes are the recipes used in historically documented moments in the history of the Navy. A little bit more about the prohibition era …

I am so glad that I read this wonderful book right after reading Stan Hugill’s Sailortown. Both of these books are a great source of the life of a sailor from the merchant navy. Merchant navy is the center point around the subject of the history of the shanties.

Do you want to be more involved?

You can find excellent records of sea shanties here. If you want to discuss this book or share your opinion you can do it in my Facebook forum here. Also below post in the comment section.

Related to Simon Spalding – Food At Sea

Bjorn Landstrom – The Ship (1961)

Robert C. Leslie – A Waterbiography (1894)

Cicely Fox Smith – Sea Songs and Ballads 1917 – 1922 (1930)