Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sailor Mouth Saturday: Slush

While many of the Brethren are currently cursing me for reminding them that summer is coming to a close and the long months of snow, ice and slush will soon be upon us, others are making a vaguely disgusted face. Those others know exactly what I’m going to talk about today, and why the cook aboard us was once affectionately known as Slushy.

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


Timmy! said...

Ahoy, Pauline! I wonder if this is where the term "slush fund" originated?

Good job on the painting this weekend... five rooms down, only three more to go.

Pauline said...

I don't know; you may be on to something there. Slushy would certainly have considered it a "fund".

And don't forget the upstairs hall. And the trim which could take until gal darn Christmas to finish... :)