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Alan Bates 11-18-2006 05:43 AM

Gourmet Food
Lexie's remark about towboat food brought on this tirade.
I was reared on plain food, fully cooked meats, boiled vegetables, home-made bread, etc. When I made my one and only trip on the Delta Queen as a guest lecturer, I was obliged to eat with the passengers. There were plates on top of plates and an annoying array of silverware that was snatched away before the meal was served. The food was good, not exceptional, excepting for the green beans. I still wonder who dyes them that bilious green, that horrible too-green green. The flavor was that of evergreen wood, perhaps larch. The texture was poly-whatever rope.
Not being inclined to bite the hand that was feeding me, I complained only to my granddaughter, who had made friends with everyone aboard including the cook. The next evening there was a huge pile of fully cooked green beans on my plate, boiled in the juice of a ham hock. The rest of the people at our table looked on with envy as they chewed on their bright green manila ropes disguised as beans.

Tom Schiffer 11-18-2006 07:26 AM

Yep, and guess which mess of beans the crew was eatin'!? And I fully understand how Vicky got it done as she worked her charm on the crew of MISSIE last fall.

Edward Ray 11-18-2006 11:10 AM


All I can say is "Amen" everyone know that your have to cook the "green" out of Green Beans and that have to have some seasoning such as "han hocks" "pock chops" "thick bacon" or plain old meat drippings. But then what do I know but I do know that a riverboat cook would be put off at the next landing, for offering "green manila rope" as beans to the crew.
Ed Ray
Dublin, Ohio

Lexie Palmore 11-18-2006 12:20 PM

The likes of which has contributed greatly to the development of the "steamboat figure", and I love that kind of food as much as anyone, but long ago I had to rein in my appetite or else by now I would have one grandiose Blanch Leathers type of "steamboat figure".

Edward Ray 11-19-2006 10:25 PM


That "steamboat figure" is called the "steamboat spread." It can be seen often as the deckhand on the head of the tow, standing with rope in hand and his belly hanging over his belt.

Ed Ray

R. Dale Flick 11-20-2006 10:01 AM

Hi, gang:
Interesting thread on 'Gourmet food,' cooking on steamboats and towboats. I agree with Alan that it always insn't the extensive array of glasses, dishes, silver on the table, but what goes on and in that counts.

My favorites, among many, is a nice mess of blackeyed peas, ham hock, greens and hot cornbread with butter and a big glass of cold milk. For years the DELTA QUEEN featured excellent bread puddin' and rice puddin.' Also ham and red eyed gravy...roast prime rib etc. I assume they still serve it. Yummy! Okay, what's your favorite steamboat/towboat meal?

R. Dale Flick

Keith Tinnin 11-20-2006 10:14 AM

The DQ in particular fed some mighty fine "down home" crew food: Gumbo Ya Ya ( thank you, Aunt Lucy!), crawfish etoufee, fried catfish ( which I sorely miss in Alaska, but admit that King Crab ain't too bad a trade- off). When I first started on the boats I ate a lot of Humble Pie, as I proved Mark Train true in his words to the effect that "it ain't what a man don't know that hurts him near as much as what he does know that just isn't so." Lots of that in my transition from landlubber to river rat. But I was lucky, nobody ever sent me to the engine room for a bucket of steam, or to the Pilot House for a couple of relative bearings.

Bob Reynolds 11-20-2006 12:16 PM

Ed, Re: the "steamboat figure" that Lexie refers to is to be found on page 14 of the Edwin & Louise Rosskam book "Towboat River". The caption reads, "A lifetime of steamboat meals means a steamboat figure."[I][/I] This is, ufortunately, a sad truth.

Bob Reynolds 11-20-2006 12:22 PM

Dalle, I have always liked the so called "gourmet"food (though not the undercooked green beans)> I would have to say my favorite meals on any boat are crisp fried chicken with all the trimmings. A tie for this would also be breakfast - omelettes, bacon, sage sausage, grits, homemade biscuits (with either gravy or honey, depending on your mood) and a big glass of orange juice. Hard to beat! As for "lighter" fare, I vote for a BLT.

Shipyard Sam 11-20-2006 03:15 PM

Soul Food of the '70's
Reckon just Jim Blum, Kenny P. Howe, Jr., and I are left who remember the soul food fiasco of the early 1970's when sow's ear's, pork belly, neck bones, and the like was the bill o' fare down below in the crew's mess. Though I normally love "down home cookin'" the ears and such got tiresome after a while, especially after seeing the waiters, kitchen help, and porters at the next table who'd eased into the back door of the cookhouse where their buds had slipped them the good stuff being served in the Orleans Room.

Once, when a dainty, travel writing lady, who had been dining on the delicacies in the ironwood room above, asked Howard Tate, [I]"Well Captain Tate, how do they feed you on the DELTA QUEEN?"[/I]

[I]"Lady,"[/I] Tate replied, [I]"They slop us like a bunch of hogs!"[/I]

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