I brought the capn’ his tea. He liked French vanilla and he liked it served in the Revere silver brocaded tea pot he bought in Boston. I sat the silver service tray and bone China tea cups on his desk away from the maps he had unrolled. I noticed he ate every bit of his lunch but he was busy with the charts and figuring how to get us back on schedule so I left the dirties behind so as not to bother him. On my way back to the galley I noticed a new sailor on board. I stopped to chat it up a moment. “Bob the sea cook,” I says. He says, “Call me Ishmael I am a vegan.” I says, “So are those Jains over there,” as I pointed to the Indians on the other side of the deck. “Damn good sailors too, I make em vegan vittles when I can. They like my coriander scented millet and mung bean pilaf, they say I make it just like their sahib always liked it. I learned to make it while we were running the opium in the sea of poppies for the Dutch East India Company. Me hard tack is vegan too.” I reached in my vest pocket and handed him one. He looked at it from side to side and sniffed it. “I smell the blood of animals.” he said and tossed it overboard. I reeled back and crushed his nose with all my force. Hit him so square it set him back on his buttocks with his legs sprawled out in a vee. He looked up at me in shock. Blood trickled down his lip and his eyes watered. “The only blood you smell is running down ye nose, ye arse face.” I went to the galley kitchen. When I sat down and my heart slowed and me head stopped throbbing I noticed the swelling in me hand. I gave it a shake and rubbed it but I knew it was going to hurt and I knew it would hurt more when I was pounding stockfish for crew meal tonight. I was glad for the capn’s oysters and I found comfort in me cupa pearls. —Bob the sea cook
large oysters shucked and juice reserved
1 1/2 teaspoons
fresh horseradish, grated on a ginger grater
red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons
shallot, finely minced
lot of fresh ground black pepper
dry red wine
In This Recipe
Combine the vinegar and horseradish and let it steep for at least an hour to overnight.
Combine all the ingredients and the reserved oyster liquor in a tea cup. Serve with saltines.