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Published: February 12th 2016
10_ It’s not salt pork and hardtack
I’m sure you have read of the dietary privations of a long sea voyage- food that starts out alright but soon degenerates into a daily ration of rum, with moldy salt pork and worm-eaten sea biscuits. And then come all the vitamin deficiency diseases- ricketts, scurvy, etc. I assure you we are not suffering from any of this.
Ms. Amsterdam serves five main meals every single day. We have a buffet breakfast with offerings of Eggs Benedict (five varieties) waffles, crepes, omelets to order, fresh fruit, grapefruit halves, several kinds of sausages, German cold cuts, sweet rolls, smoked salmon with cream cheese and fresh baked rolls, and every day some surprise that we have not seen before. Then I go up to the library to read the New York Times online (it’s free, but slow).
Meanwhile, the gigantic kitchen is working on lunch. There is a salad bar and an oriental soup cart for the abstemious, but also at least five main dishes (pasta, cutlets, curries, a vegetarian selection, …), a sandwich station always with nice rare roast beef among the selections, a selection of desserts at least 25 feet long. Oh yes, I forgot the pizza station with small pizzas to your order. Also the sushi station with big chunks of red tuna and other sashimi.
This has to hold you over until tea time at 3PM, seated in the topmost bar of the ship. There they serve all the hot teas known to Bigelow, finger sandwiches of pimento cheese, cucumber and mint, more fancy cut salmon sandwiches, four kinds of sweet pastries, then come the scones with strawberry jam and whipped cream, ending with a tray that has three kinds of pound cake, and more hot water for your second cup of tea.
It doesn’t really count as a meal, but later, you may join the happy hour in one of several bars (second drink $1) with mixed salted nuts and a nice little tray of hot appetizers (crisp bacon wrapped apricots, empanadas, Swedish meat balls). Alternatively, in another bar they serve freshly made chocolate bonbons. Or is that after dinner?
This gets you ready for the fourth meal, a proper sit-down dinner any time from 5:30 to 8PM. There is always an appetizer from a list of at least eight, like a cream vegetarian soup, French onion soup, a giant shrimp cocktail, or little toasts with Crab Rangoon, or other tasty concoctions, salads, eggplant rolls; every day a different list. Then you choose from at least five mains, such as roast veal chops, roast beef, fish which I always ignore, or beef roulades. There is always a New York steak and roast chicken on offer. On Gala nights there are special entrees like Chateaubriand, lobster, or King crab. Of course there is then the dessert list with the best creme bruleé I ever had always available, the pastry chef’s best efforts of the day, a cheese plate, a fresh fruit plate, ice cream sundaes, with always a “low-sugar” thing like a Linzer Torte.
Then you waddle off to enjoy the evening’s live entertainment and/or a movie (hot popcorn slways available), after which the buffet is open again for the fifth meal of the day, the Late Night Snack. In addition to all the uneaten things of the day, there are always several new dishes, like a vegetarian pot pie, or a crepe Florentine. I have to admit that it is only sparsely attended.
Oh, yes, and any time during the day there is a hamburger/hot dog/TexMex bar out by the pool on the top deck. It has its devoteés; people who might have, for some reason, missed lunch, or just feel some odd pang of hunger.
If all this is not enough, there is a whole theater fitted out like a cooking show kitchen, and lessons on how to prepare some special dish, taught by one of the ship’s chefs, with samples all around at the end.
Sorry, I have to stop now and visit the vomitorium. Gorgeous array of fresh peacock tail feathers in there.
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