With the forthcoming cancellation of the islander meal discount on the North boats, I wondered what others are planning on doing for their meals and refreshments; paying up or finding an alternative? I thought that I might apply some time to a thought experiment to seek a solution.
On Amazon you can buy a 1 litre deep fat fryer for £25, which got me wondering about having a fry-up in your cabin. Obviously this would need to be done on a calm night or whilst still in port or the lea of Shetland mainland if underway.
As far as provisions are concerned you could have a bottle of oil in your luggage, a fresh fish in a bag per person, a spud per person and something to peel it with, or pre-peel/chip and bag them before you leave home. You could knock up some batter at home and put it into a zip lock bag. A plate plus eating irons would be necessary, add salt, pepper and vinegar if required. You might be able to blag some or all of these from the onboard cafe.
As you can't open a window in the cabin (who designed these boats for chrissakes?) there is always the risk that the cooking might set off the cabin's smoke detector so it would be wise to wedge the door open with a leg broken off the chair. SERCO might thank you for leaving the door open as the smell of fish and chips wafting in the cabin's corridor might encourage others to go to the cafe, so up their sales.
Disposing of the oil might make sense, depending on your plans for breakfast, as you wouldn't be wanting to carry dirty oil slopping about in a deep fat fryer. The best that I can come up with is to fill one of the paper cups with soap solution provided at the sink and the shower, tip the oil down the toilet, and follow that up with the cup of soap liquid before flushing the solution down the pipe. Just add more soap if there is any residue to make the problem someone else's problem. If you are more eco-friendly just dispose of the oil in the waste bin. At least you won't have to share a paper cup with your travelling companion then. Remember to wipe out the cooking vessel with plenty of the free loo paper then flush that as well.
Alternatives could include using a chip pan with a camping gas stove, the door must be open for the carbon monoxide to escape. It's probably best not to go to the bar whilst waiting for the oil to heat up in the chip pan. Soak a bath towel in water just in case the oil should catch fire as black smoke billowing from your cabin is something likely to be noticed and may cause alarm amongst your fellow travellers. If you have a taste for foreign foods then the kettle should hold a couple of tins of curry. Obviously drink plenty of liquids first and fill flasks before doing this as the kettle's interior will be sub-optimal after the curry cook up.
For breakfast pour the milk that you have brought into the deep fat fryer or chip pan, add some porage oats, salt and sugar, and set it to cook, stirring frequently with one of the "free" plastic spoons. Eat the portage straight out of the cooking vessel, but be aware that there may be smoke produced as the remnants of the porage sticks to the bottom. Take the deep fat fryer or chip pan into the shower with you or just abandon it for the staff to have if they want it. If you are determined to keep it then use one of the towels to rub vigorously on the inside to try to leave the burnt bits behind with the towel.
If you haven't binned the oil you might have had the forethought to bring a rasher of bacon, a sausage and an egg each, which could be fried in the cooking vessel of choice, using the same safety measures as detailed above. The meat could be kept cold overnight by putting them in the sink and running the cold water over them all night with the plug out. If you need to use the toilet in the night it will be important to lower your hand hygiene standards for one night and forego the sink.
Other considerations should include putting your luggage and any clothing into bin bags so that they are not soiled by the deep frying/curry/porage cooking aromas extravaganza. SERCO will be washing the bedding anyway, and wiping down the woodwork, so no need to worry about those things. If the chip pan didn't catch fire you will have saved them the trouble of having to repaint the cabin, so everyone is a winner.
Let me know if you come up with better solutions.