The Official Magazine of the Bluewater Cruising Association

Book Review: The Essential Galley Companion

Mary Anne Unrau

Traversay III
Waterline 43', Cutter-rigged steel hull
October 7th, 2023

We’re in Tod Inlet and about to leave the beautiful wilderness behind, along with the underwater creatures, eagles, whales, dolphins, and even a few other similarly wilderness-addicted fellow sailors who shared some spaces with us.

Luckily this time, my re-entry into Civilization will be much easier than usual. That’s because I’m looking forward to shopping – not for clothes, but for getting into full-on grocery shopping. In central Victoria I’ll be able to search for some hard-to-find ingredients not available in Northern BC. Then I will be able to try out recipes from the The Essential Galley Companion. Amanda Swan Neal has tested all of the recipes in her new book over the course of her 345,000+ offshore miles with family and later on with Mahina Expeditions. I estimate that there are over 1000 recipes in this collection. To it she has brought her incredible intelligence, her savvy and her well-researched knowledge to tickle and delight every palate. With this book, Amanda will keep us all healthy and vibrantly alive – even while we might be encountering less-than-optimal conditions at sea. To that end she’s also included an excellent chapter on sea-sickness. Amanda has numerous tips for stretching or diminishing the recipes to feed from two people to a crowd.

She tells us how to keep provisions fresh, how to arrange a large or a small galley, how to shop in foreign lands (she has visited 80 countries) and she tells us not only how to cook some standard cuisine, but also unfamiliar local food bought cheaply at a market in a distant land. I substituted salmon for whitefish in the West Coast Seafood Stew (page241) and it earned raves. In Polynesia, you can find out how to make Coconut Creamed Taro Leaf. Further along, you might even try making the Fijian Curried Octopus.

For the more practical and frugal cook, she includes tips for making your own peanut and tartar sauce, dressings such as Miso or Thai, and she includes ten different spice mixes. Do get the paperback version of this book (all 390 packed pages for only $31 CAD on Amazon). There are a few blank pages for you to attach some of your old standbys.

Favourite aspects of this book are the personal accounts she includes – her youthful experiences sailing with her family, and her stories on passage as a competitive sailor in an all-woman Whitbred Team and on Sydney-Hobart Races. She also generously includes recipes from some of the many boats she and Mahina have travelled with.

This book and its priceless knowledge should really be devoured before you set out. Displaying even more wisdom, you should internalize Amanda’s precepts before you even buy your boat. However, if you’re like me and you love your good old boat – and after all Traversay has been our home for 23 years – this book will make you look forward to introducing some new ‘licks’ to that old repertoire you have been playing for too many years!

Feature photo is of Amanda Swan Neal in Norway. She gave permission to use the photo by email to the author on September 24, 2023.


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