Saturday, September 3, 2011
Sailor Mouth Saturday: Slush
Slush at sea was the domain of the cook, who guarded it like gold in the days of wooden ships and iron men. The stuff was the delight of any sailor who loved his ship and the cook knew that if it were too liberally used it would dry up faster that a fish in the sun.
The fat boiled out of meat while the desalination and cooking process was underway was known as slush. The goo that rose to the top of the pot was skimmed off and kept in buckets for future use. These same, know of course as slush buckets, were then hauled up on deck and even into the rigging where their contents could be used. The slush was applied, usually by hand, to almost everything aboard ship.
The fatty slime could be used as a lubricant to keep rope and cable moving without friction through blocks, tackles and around the capstan. It could be applied to sails to keep them supple in the salt air. It was especially prized for making wood shine and keeping it from cracking under sun and wind. Men even rubbed chapped hands and faces with the stuff; it was possibly one of the original “chapsticks” for painful, cracked lips.
Anything with so many diverse uses was invaluable aboard ship. Because of this, and even though there was never any shortage of simmering salt beef or horse, the cook – Slushy – guarded his greasy prize well. Doubtless, he had the softest face and hands at inspection as well.
Happy Saturday, Brethren; I’m off to tend to more painting. A sailor’s work is never done whether at sea or at home. I suppose that’s how we like it; idle hands are the Devil’s playground.
Header: Sailing Ships at Brighton Beach by John Copeland c 1824