Like a lucky Dream
by
Jochen Kern


all round the world 1968 - 1969

THE SEAMAN CHAPTER

I tramped to Bremerhaven and found the address of the manpower office of the North German Lloyd Shipping Company. I got hired that very day as a cook’s mate (kitchen helper) on the super Liner "SS Bremen."

I started work at 5.00am, peeled potatoes till 10.00am and got promoted at 10.10am to the level of a 3rd Cook (commis cook) a necessary replacement for a drunken cook who did not make it on time from his leave. I worked in the first class Cold Kitchen’s Salad Section with Alfred Richter, the perfect and organized chef of the pantry. We catered 30 to 90 different kinds of salad for 100 passengers in an " a la minute" (by order preparation) system. The preparation guidelines for these salads, and maybe 20 dressings, are carefully listed in a book - the only introduction.

The first day was a little rough because I had to change my blue and white striped uniform of the cook’s mate to a white cook‘s uniform.

This took a long time - running down four staircases to the linen room, went to my cabin, changed the uniform, returned the blue and white striped uniform to linen room, ascended another four staircases up-wrong one - wrong side - engine room - passenger deck - and so on. After an hour or so, I finally found the kitchen. I burned out by that time, and that was when the shit hit the fan.

Mr. Kunze, a pantry man (sick baker) told me clearly what he thought about my young personality. One hour later, service and a minor disaster because 40 waiters had 40 different orders and the pages from the salad book nearly flew off.

One week later, in accordance with the routine, perfectionist Kern arrived for the first time in New York. The skyscrapers were unbelievable, the people and the cars in these 10 million human center in comparison with my home village, Salzgitter-Heerte with a population of about 800 people, was just fantastic!

First, a postcard to my mother who may have suffered a shock on learning that her son is in New York. After being off duty for two days, I returned to the ship’s pantry (Cold Kitchen) and discovered that all my mis-en-place preparation for can food, caviar, candy ginger, red cherries, salami, parma ham and etc... Gone!

Nobody listened to my complaints about the missing items.

I found out on the next trip, 14 days later, that Mr. Kunze had opened his "personal shop" on board. All customers came to the kitchen for shopping and made cash payments to Mr.Kunze, whom I believed made more money than his salary in this funny way. Mr.Kunze gave me a penalty for my complaint and I was made harbor cook on duty in the pantry. This spoiled my tow off-days when we returned to New York 14 days later.

In anger, I decided to spoil Mr.Kunze’s business too. That very week, I gave away the whole food-stock. free of charge when we arrived - so, no money for Mr.Kunze... he didn’t like me anymore! He were tuff for the next two weeks till he cooled down. "No more harbor guard duty for Kern. He’s too stupid to control the area!!"

What luck on this psychological solution!!

Thanks, Mr.Kunze!.

 

We sailed the Caribbean sea, around the islands and " the beauties" for half a year. Thanks to Mr.Richter for all my harbor time "off" which enabled me to study the local culture. Sample : Papa Doc’s Haiti where a little boy approached me with "Mister, Mister, please f*** my sister."

"Sir, 10 cigarettes only for a normal screw, 2 cigarettes for a blow job and etc..." Very reasonable prices but the sister was too young for me. Ten to 15 years old or so in age, was not my taste. I was looking for a woman and not children who were forced into this through poverty.

The following cruise was to Norway, where we exchanged liquor for fresh salmon. One bottle of cheap booze for twenty fresh salmon. It was a very good income for the ship’s owner.

The girls in Tromso and Trontheim perfct that Norway picture like a fantasie with full color like a painter’s palette. It was a very nice cruise where nature really showed off magnificent with the sisters waterfalls, crystal clear fjords, greener than green forests and fresher than fresh air.

We arrived in Venezuela just after the ship "Monte Cristo" had been hijacked. A special identity card was required in order to leave the ship.

I was arrested 15 minutes later, in my cook uniform - in front of my ship, the identity card was in the kitchen drawer. Two hours after this mistake rang the liberty bells, and I was ready for Laguaira sightseeing.

On the streets, were hundreds of shoe shine boys running all around and even between my legs. Luckily, I had small change which I threw to the other side of the street. Now, my path was free.

The next bar was exotic and had the special activity program which started ten minutes after my beer arrived. the door opened and army with loaded guns came in and made a very fast but exciting "RAZIA" with the gun pointed directly to the customer’s head.

Night life started at nine in the morning and went on until nine, the next morning.

Special entertainment programs were show rooms with peep-holes in the wall. With just five dollars, you were able to see fantastic floor shows " like a lady making sex with a donkey, the movements of the lady reminded me of a large portion of raspberry jelly.

The funniest sight anyhow was of the peeping men, maybe 15 of them, on one wall in this funny notable pre come stress, standing in position to peep through their just purchased holes. Next show - more money. There were no toilets and tissue papers. Luckily, this was the time when the Beatles’ tight jeans were in fashion, otherwise I guaranteed not able passing the exit door, problem.



Followed cruise to Africa, Dakar in Senegal, where I tried to show off to the four Jacob Sisters  (our Ships musical entertainers) by taking them out for water-skiing after we had visited the fish market and saw the display of monstrous sharks.

My first experience with water-skiing - with a "peanut boatman" - who did not stop after I fell into the water. Images of sharks from the fish market kept my finger tight and I was pulled on the ground and my chest seemed to open. the memory of blood in conjunction with sharks and the boat above which I caught hold of with the highest speed jump was my last try in this sport. I never learned water-skiing. Well, maybe later.

Moreover, Dakar also had some differences in color, religion, life style and etc... including the public toilet systems.1

I was walking through the city and I got this emergency pressure in my body - a need to go to the toilet. I then, started to search for a toilet which was impossible to find.

After questioning the local people who directed through gestures such as shrinking their noses and by pointing to a larger street corner on the main road. I arrived and thought there was a meeting, a gathering or a small market because all the people were sitting and standing in their colorful clothes.

But no...this was the toilet for men and women without any blockage or barricades. Something new, where people expect to go to the toilet in nature as nature-ally and hiding is not necessary, like in our culture.

Another thing that was very funny in Dakar was its bargain for girls. For one girl, you could trade in two cook jackets or a pair of jeans. The deal was made, with eight cook’s jackets and four cooks were driven out into the desert.

It was dark... forty minutes later, low class housing estates arose from the dark through our taxi’s head light. About fifty women rushed out to our taxi, all were aged around 40 to 80 years (maybe) old. We were unsure of what we actually wanted in this place.

No choice! "Out!" came the command from the taxi driver.

A woman grabbed my hand and guided me over her resting husband in one of these half-paper-half wooden houses. She pulled up her 50 meter dress and started, with water from a water kettle to clean her most salable part.

I was confused and asked her to take her whole dress off which could give me a view of how necessary a cook’s jacket can be because the woman was so fat.

The wall was spiked with eyes of lovely children who were peeping through the holes probably made for air-conditioning purposes. The small oil lamp, the sand in the bed, the enormous sized woman and the original method of washing took all my sexual appetite away.

No choice! Sometimes, you have to do what you asked for - OK! But fast please! The taxi had gone, a two hour walk to the ship. First, an emergency call to the ship’s doctor to have a look at my male-part. He shook his head and told me to come back if I had got something . I told him that I was sure but he still did not changed his mind.

I got nothing - unbelievable!

After I had visited and studied all the harbor cities and cooked under the guidance of Mr. Schaumloeffel and Sous Chef, Mr. Riebenhusen on this "SS Bremen", came my move to Switzerland.

My heart felt thanks to Mr.Karl Schaumloeffel and Alfred Richter who prepared me to be an international cook!

Executive Chef Schaumloeffel (right) & Family 
http://www.oceanliner.org/schaumloffel.htm

 

The 32000 Ton Liner "TS BREMEN"

 

 

The local Recipe

THE BIGGGGGGGEST HIT

AERMEL KANAL SEEZUNGE MIT KARTOFFEL SALAT

CHANNEL SOLE WITH POTATO SALAD.

SOEL PURCHASED IN CHERBOURG, THE FRENCH HARBOR CITY ON THE CHANNEL, OPPOSITE THE ENGLISH COAST. THE SIZE OF THE SOLE IS NEARLY 1KG AND THROUGH ITS FANTASTIC TASTE, IT’S A REAL SPECIALTY AT THIS PART OF THE WORLD.

SKIN THE FISH FROM TAIL TO HEAD AND GUT IT (ALSO PULLING OUT THE ROE BAGS). SEASON WITH WORCHESTER SAUCE, LEMON JUICE AND SALT. TURN IN FLOUR AND PANFRY TILL GOLDEN BROWN IN BUTTER. TOP THE DISH WITH SKINLESS SLICES OF LEMON. ADD ON BEURRE MENIEURE (BROWN BUTTER WITH A DASH OF LEMON JUICE AND L&P SAUCE). SPRINKLE WITH FRESHLY CHOPPED PARSLEY.

THE ONLY SIDE DISH IS POTATO SALAD. TO PREPARE THIS, BOIL WHOLE POTATOES IN SALT WATER WITH CUMIN SEEDS. BOIL BEEF STOCK WITH CHOPPED ONIONS, VINEGAR, SALT, AND A LITTLE SUGAR. FOLD PEELED SLICED POTATOES WITH HOT BEEF LIQUID. FINALLY, WHEN THE POTATO STARCH ABSORBS THE BEEF REDUCTION AND COOLS DOWN, FOLD WITH MAYONNAISE AND CHOPPED PICKLED TO MAKE FOR A DELICATE POTATO SALAD.

THE REAL BIG ONE / SIMPLE BUT OUTSTANDING

THE PROPER NEW YORK STEAK

A 800GM T BONE STEAK, CHARBROILED WITH AN IDAHO POTATO. MARINATE THE STEAK WITH ROSEMARY, TOMATO KETCHUP, HONEY, SALT, PEPPER, SOYA SAUCE, PAPRIKA, TABASCO AND A LITTLE BRANDY. PLACE ON BROILER AND WAIT. TURN IT FOUR TIMES WHICH GIVES YOU THE CROSS MARK ON EACH SIDE, EVEN TASTE AND EVEN COOKING TIME. FOR IDAHO POTATO: WASH AND FOLD IN ALUMINUM FOIL, BAKE ON SALT BED TO AVOID BURNING ITS BOTTOM AND GIVE AN EVEN COOKING TIME. SERVE WITH SALTED BUTTER.

 

 

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