In the nine-plus hours it takes to fly from Argentina to Antarctica, collect data over the continent and fly back again, people on board are bound to get hungry. There is a microwave on board, as well as some snacks and hot drinks. But there are no flight attendants, and there are no meal carts. NASA’s P-3 is equipped primarily for science.
But that doesn’t mean instrument operators and crew go hungry. In addition to working with the airport and local government to ensure paperwork is in order, Operation IceBridge deputy project manager Eugenia De Marco also takes on the task of ordering and procuring daily orders of … what else … empanadas. And she approaches the task like only an engineer would.
Every evening, De Marco opens an Excel spreadsheet and records the orders of approximately 15 people. The orders are tallied and delivered via text message to Nicolas Furlanetto, owner of Ushuaia restaurant Doña Lupita. The next morning, Furlanetto and his staff arrive at the restaurant by 6:30 a.m.—hours earlier than on a typical day. Anywhere from 23 to 85 fresh empanadas are lifted from the wood-burning stove, neatly wrapped in paper, and labeled with our names.
If none of the 11 varieties of empanadas speak to you, pizza and sandwiches are options too. But most of us stick with the empanadas, filled with everything from beef to Roquefort cheese. According to Furlanetto, the “matambre” and “carne a cuchillo” are the varieties most often ordered by locals. Our group bucks the trend. De Marco prepared a chart based on our empanada order history, and the data show chicken is the clear winner.