Obviously, there are no permanent dwellings at the North Pole itself but at any given moment there are more than a few explorers trekking northwards, and scientists beavering away in research stations.
The first group are generally hardier. Pen Hadow, Arctic explorer, advocate, adventurer and guide is the only person to have trekked solo, without resupply by third parties, from Canada to the Geographic North Pole. En route, he consumed almost 5,500 calories per day but burnt in excess of 7,000. Porridge, ground almonds, raisins and butter were the order of the day, with snacks every 75 minutes from his sledger’s nosebag.
Cyprus’ own polar explorer Stephanie Solomonides ski-ed to the north pole in 2018. “Breakfast was porridge with extra sugar and powdered milk, and dinner was hot chocolate and freeze-dried foods such as beef stew, noodles with vegetables, or pasta with salmon – not a team favourite! But during the day we ate lots of chocolate chunks, protein bars, popcorn, nuts, and boiled sweets; accessible, high-energy food that you can pop into your mouth while you trek!”
Life is a little easier for the researchers, who may spend up to a year in this frozen world. The roughly 50 polar stations in the Arctic circle are distributed from Svalbard to Nunavut, home to hundreds of scientists. Though there’s a wide variety of food, it’s all brought in by ship two or three times a year, frozen and then reheated. Which makes life interesting, says Dagmara Bożek-Andryszczak of the Polish research station in Spitsbergen.
Although there’s a wide variety of food – meat and fish are common and any excuse for a celebration sees the researchers break out the burgers and fries, she admits – what’s missing is fresh fruit and veg. There may be plenty of frozen stuff in the freezer, but it’s just not the same. Like the explorers, researchers too dream of fresh citrus fruit! The Arctic, it seems, may be the one place in the world where you’re jolly happy to find Father Christmas has popped an orange in your stocking come Christmas!