Tuesday, May 14, 2013

More on dandyfunk

(by Heather Hernandez, Technical Services Librarian)
"The cook and the galley on an American ship"
(facing p.11 of Around the Galley Stove)

Longtime readers may remember my post, "From dandyfunk to cracker jack?" on our previous blog, Maritime Compass, where I related my learning of dandyfunk from Norman Springer's memoir.  Dandyfunk is not something that one forgets, nor does one forget another dish that Mr. Springer discussed, cracker hash.

One of the pleasures of working in a maritime history library is the opportunity to spend one's off hours reading, and it's almost as if the books know of my interest in cooking, baking, and fiber arts--it seems as if they fall open to sections on food or clothing.

Around the Galley Stove : a Dissertation upon Stoves, Galleys, Cooks, Ships and Sailors in General, by Frederick William Wallace seemed to have done just that--I opened this small, thin book, and it spoke to me not only of food and cooking, but of dishes that particularly interest me--cracker hash and dandyfunk:
A great sailor's dish is 'cracker hash,' made by breaking up ship's biscuit into small pieces with some salt junk diced in it.  The whole is mixed up with 'slush' or grease skimmed from the cook's coppers, and baked in the oven.

'Dandyfunk' is another foc'sle mess, made by pounding biscuit into a fine powder and mixing it into a paste with water.  Molasses is added, and the resulting 'cake' is baked in the oven.

Regarding 'dandyfunk.' Aboard a large scotch ship, the crew had a penchant for making this dish, but latterly, most of the crew became too lazy to bother making it.  One man, however, always made himself a dish for tea, and the others would expect him to share all round, sailor fashion.  At last, the industrious one got tired of making 'dandyfunk' for the whole of his watch, and refused to share.  His shipmates thereupon annexed the delicacy, whenever they could steal it out of the oven, and would gobble it up, leaving the empty dish in the oven again.  When this had been done once or twice, the industrious one procured perfect immunity from theft and sharing, by chewing the biscuit up in his mouth, instead of the orthodox pounding and mixing with water.  Nobody bothered him to share his 'dandyfunk' after they had seen his process for making it.

In order to get these dishes baked, it is necessary for the sailor to keep on good terms with the cook, who can, if he likes, become postively [sic] autocratic with his privileges.   --p. 38-39.
You can continue reading--the book is not only available in the Library, but online for free as well.


  1. Great story! Thanks for sharing. I will definitely use the last anecdote in my programs! :-)

  2. Glad to hear it! We'll be sure to keep our eyes open for more stories like these!