Food at Sea

I am pleased to announce that my book, Food at Sea: Shipboard Cuisine from Ancient to Modern Times, is scheduled to be released by Rowman & Littlefield in November of this year.from the publisherFood at Sea: Shipboard Cuisine from Ancient to Modern Times traces the preservation, preparation, and consumption of food at sea, over a period of several thousand years, and in a variety of cultures. The book traces the development of cooking aboard in ancient and medieval times, through the development of seafaring traditions of storing and preparing food on the world’s seas and oceans.Following a largely chronological format, Simon Spalding shows how the raw materials, cooking and eating equipment, and methods of preparation of seafarers have both reflected the shoreside practices of their cultures, and differed from them. The economies of whole countries have developed around foods that could survive long trips by sea, and new technologies have evolved to expand the available food choices at sea.Changes in ship construction and propulsion have compelled changes in food at sea, and Spalding’s book explores these changes in cargo ships, passenger ships, warships, and other types over the centuries in fascinating depth of detail. Selected passages from songs and poems, quotes from seafarers famous and obscure, and new insights into culinary history all add spice to the tale.You can pre-order a copy at your friendly local bookstore, and you’ll be supporting local businesses when you do so! You can also pre-order and get more information from the Rowman & Littlefield website.I’ll be presenting lectures, concerts, and book signings at nautical museums, libraries, and other venues around the country in 2015 to promote the book – if you are interested in booking an event, please contact me
If you came to this page from somewhere else on the great sea that is the internet and want to know about me, please steer for my home page.

Advance Reviews

This wide-ranging book tackles a significant question in the history of food: How to feed a large group of human beings who are away from dry land, sometimes for months at a time? In this examination of how the problem has been solved over the centuries, we learn that the Spanish Armada was defeated in part because of spoiled provisions, that a quarter pound of tea in the British Navy was treated as equivalent in nutritional value to a pound of cheese, and that until modern refrigeration, cattle and pigs were kept on the decks of passenger ships. Spalding offers a treasury of intriguing facts, stories and ditties connected to food at sea.
— Jordan Sand, professor of history, Georgetown UniversitySimon Spalding charts the history of sea-board catering from the longboat to the cruise liner and the container ship. However unappetizing the fare, Food at Sea serves up a long awaited lobscouse, rich in detail, impeccably researched and intelligently presented.
— John Keay, historian and author of The Spice Route: A HistoryFrom the cookboxes of ancient voyagers to the 24 hour buffets of today’s cruise ships, Simon Spalding takes his readers on an epic culinary journey in Food at Sea:Shipboard Cuisine From Ancient to Modern Times. Here, readers can feast on accounts of biscuits seething with weevils, servings of Cape Cod Turkey (codfish), and sumptuous eleven-course dinners on the Titanic. Amply seasoned with sea music, poetry, and recipes, this book is a must-read for maritime enthusiasts and adventurous “foodies.”
— Anna Gibson Holloway, PhD, Vice President, Museum Collections & Programs, Curator, USS Monitor CenterSimon Spalding’s Food at Sea romps through maritime history from the gruel of the ancient mariner to the smorgasbord of today’s cruise ship. Along the way, Spalding uncovers the culinary secrets of underwater archaeological wrecks; the onboard fare of slaves, sailors, officers, immigrants, and the well-to-do; the effects of Prohibition on American liners; the food on board naval vessels from early Mediterranean galleys to nuclear submarines; scurvy and other culinary diseases; The Love Boat (remember the series?), and even the origins of the phrase, “cup o’ Joe.” It is packed with detail, poetry, and fascinating vignettes. It is well research, well documented, fast paced, and very entertaining – perfect for food historians or anyone interested in a delightful read.
— Andrew F. Smith, author of Eating History: 30 Turning Points in the Making of American HistoryA scintillating smorgasbord of seafaring fare over the centuries from the Odyssey to the Titanic, featuring mouth-watering if at times stomach-churning briny titbits for old salt and land-lubber alike. Simon Spalding is delectably versed in dietary arcana from galley slaves to submarine divers, poop deck to engine room. Cast-iron literary digestion is a gastric must for the author’s recipes of lobscouse, dandyfunk, bilge rat, and boiled baby, washed down or thrown up with jungle juice.
— David Lowenthal, emeritus professor of geography, Unuversity College London

The story of food at sea is far more complex than the smorgasbords provided by modern cruise ships. Granted, people often take cruises for the nonstop eating possibilities and for the great variety of foods they can try. Yet the true story of food at sea is a narrative about the design, development of ships, and evolution of ships from row galleys to cruise and container ships, and how these vessels spread the culinary traditions of the world. Simon Spalding’s Food at Sea reminds us that of our modern gastronomic customs—and modern preferences for food such as salsa, biscotti, curry, or even lamb—derive in part from ships and the sea.
— Gene Allen Smith, professor of history at TCU in Fort Worth, Texas; author of a number of books on naval and maritime history
The Author’s engaging text has created an entertaining and scholarly introduction to life at sea. This book should be at home in all libraries; from universities to cruise ships. Learn about, and learn how to make, “Lobscouse”, Burgoo”, Plum Duff”, “Dandyfunk”, “Spotted Dog”, “Collops”, and wash them down with “Grog”, “Kai” or a “Cup of Joe”.
— Craig Lukezic, President of the Archaeological Society of Delaware; adjunct professor, Delaware State UniversityA unique book that concerns long duree, from earliest period of shipping until recent, design of ships and boats and the ways those changes in design made for different eating habits aboard those ships. I would recommend it for anyone interested in the history of food aboard ships.
— Ruthi Gertwagen, University of Haifa – Israel
In his book Food at Sea: Shipboard Cuisine from Ancient to Modern Times, Simon Spalding serves up in gratifying fashion an authoritative answer to one of the most often asked question about life aboard ships – What did they eat? He gives insight not only to the food itself, but the industry, technology and cultural developments behind the availability and choices of sea fare as they changed both ashore and in the maritime trades. Further, he traces the thread of seafaring traditions in those choices. Through wooden ships to steel ones and from salted fish and meat to the convenience of refrigeration, sailors still look for the “bread barge” to sate that gnawing hunger when on watch in the middle of the night. Full of information for the curious, this book is a must read for any maritime re-enactor, living historian or anyone interpreting a maritime site.
— Michael J. DeCarlo, Esq., is a member of the naval living-history organization Ship’s Company, Inc., and portrays the Ship’s Cook on board the USS Constellation in Baltimore, Maryland, the last remaining U.S. Civil War era all-sail sloop-of-war Throughout history, everyone who ever set sail on a long voyage faced the problem of how to feed passengers and crew. They approached that problem with every food preservation and cooking technique at their disposal, and developed ingenious preparations in the process. Simon Spalding has written a book like no other, the first comprehensive examination of the ways that the ancient Greeks in their oared galleys and Polynesians in outrigger canoes survived on the unknown oceans, the diet of Henry VIII’s sailors facing the French, and the routines of modern cruise ship and naval chefs who cater thousands of meals on a daily basis. Though some parts of this story are less than appetizing – nobody will envy the meals of a crewman in Nelson’s navy – this book is an absorbing read and recommended to anyone with an interest in nautical or culinary history. 
— Richard Foss, culinary historian and author
For those who have read almost all about shipbuilding, sea-battles, and navigation, now is the time to learn more about one of the most important things onboard supertankers, Viking ships, steamers, and submarines – the food. Simon Spalding takes us to the seven seas and through more than a thousand years of dry food, salt food, and bad food, as well as all the improvements to keep the crew alive, and happy, on Men-of-War, East Indiamen, steamers, and submarines. It is a “must have” for everyone interested in the shipping history.
— Hans-Lennart Ohlsson, director, Swedish Maritime Museum


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