Jump to navigation

Cook Museum Whitby

Fish and Ships! A Journey round the World at Captain Cook's table

What did sailors eat on long voyages? How was food prepared in rough weather when the stove could not be lit, and was it all as horrible as popular legend suggests? Sailors certainly had to eat salt beef, ships biscuits (and weevils too!) but there was much more. Cook had an unrivalled reputation for feeding his men well and keeping them healthy.

This exhibition explored food on Cook's voyages: what stores were taken, how food was preserved, how it was served, and what extra food was caught or gathered during the long voyage. There are many surprises. Imagine Cook using fine china at his table for his fellow officers and distinguished guests! Imagine the young explorer, Joseph Banks, equipping himself for expeditions on land and sea with a portable cooking apparatus, including a travelling pepperpot and nutmeg grater!

With the help of generous loans from Skaill House, Orkney, the Royal Geographical Society, London, and several regional museums, the exhibition opens an unexpected window on eating and food in the 18th century.

Fully illustrated catalogue, Fish & Ships: Food on the voyages of Captain Cook, covering both 2011 and 2012 exhibitions, containing essays by experts and pictures of all the exhibits.

The programme was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Joseph Banks travelling cooking apparatus

above - Sir Joseph Banks travelling cooking apparatus © Royal Geographical Society London

Top - Sydney Parkinson, Bluestripe Sea Perch © Natural History Museum, London

Sailor fishing from a gun

Sailor fishing off a gun 1775 ©National Maritime Museum Greenwich

Back to Exhibitions Archive