Eating According to Rank

The cook, steward and cabin boy had three different groups to which they catered: first came the officers (and Captains' families if on board), second came those who lived in the steerage area and last came the men in forecastle (fo'c'sle). What, how and where those three groups ate often differed considerably.

Cabin: Officers First
Predictably, the best and the freshest went to the officers and their guests first. The captain and mates ate at a table in the main cabin. They enjoyed the luxury of china and a steward who waited on them. The men sat themselves in order of rank, ate their meal and then left in the same order. Unfortunately, this meant that the fourth mate often had to eat in a hurry while the others who had finished eating became impatient to leave. The only group to have desert on a regular basis, it was usually something heavy like pie or hash of some sort.

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image of dining_whaler

New Bedford Whaling Museum /Albert Cook Church