Modern sailors heading south from New England, bound for South America and Cape Horn— the route of all East Coast, Pacific-bound ships before the opening of the Panama Canal — typically make their first landfalls in Bermuda or the Caribbean. But according to Betsy Beach, an interpreter at the Mystic Seaport who specializes in food history, whale ships first headed east, calling at Portugal’s Azores, or the Cape Verde islands, before heading south to the Horn or continuing east, to the Cape of Good Hope.
“This was where you would lose crew, gain crew, and provision with lots of really nice, fresh food,” said Beach.
Nelson Haley, a harpooner on board theMorgan, may have had the courage to look squarely into monstrous eyes of spermwhales on the high seas, but he and his shipmates cowered at the sheer amount of garlic served up in a dish of stew they tried during their first liberty call in Fayal, Azores, according to “Whale Hunt: The Narrative of a Voyage by Nelson C. Haley, Harpooner in the Ship CharlesW. Morgan, 1849-1853” (published by the Seaport 1948).
“First one then another stopped at the first mouthful,” he reported. The proprietor brought round a second, toned-down batch, and wisely filled and re-filled their wine glasses with a liberal hand, a gesture which Haley recalled helped them “worry down” the garlicky stew.
Oliver got the following recipe from Rose Hirsch, daughter ofMaria Goulart Camacho, who was born in Fayal in 1901 and emigrated to Stonington in 1918. Feel free to add as much garlic as you can stand!