Thursday, July 31, 2014

Cruise Food

Nick and I have been talking about taking an adventure.  Nothing too exciting—we are about to have a baby.  We thought maybe a cruise would be fun and that the girls would like it.  It’s easier than going to China and if we do it right, no one needs a passport.  As we dream up the ideal vacation, I could not help but be reminded of our first (and only) cruise.  It was the fall of 2002 and Nick’s parents were taking their family, including Grandma Olson on a cruise to Mexico over Christmas.  There was room for me so I was invited to share Grandma’s stateroom.  All I had to do was get to San Diego.  No problem! 

There are so many great things about a cruise but perhaps my favorite was the food.  It was all-inclusive so you really could eat anything at any time.  My first experience with the lunch buffet was a gorge-fest which I can at least partially blame on the insane diet I had been on for the past several months which helped me to lose 27 pounds (who on EARTH is bikini ready in December without such drastic measures?).  Of course, feeling disgusted with myself, I resolved to do better next time.

Unfortunately, it only got worse.  Dinner in the formal dining room was like eating at a five star restaurant.  The waiter hands you a menu and you get to choose one thing from each section:  an appetizer, a salad or soup, an entrée, a dessert.  There’s always a list of things on the side as well which are always available.  Looking at the menu, it’s full of things like coconut prawns and coq au vin.  At 23, I have no idea what these things are.  The descriptions don’t help much but I do have to eat something, so I pick something, hoping I like it but not sure.  What if it’s awful?  What if it’s fish?  What if it’s full of mushrooms and peas?  I’d better get something from the a la carte menu that I’m sure I’ll like.  Baked potato!  That’s something I recognize!  Yes, definitely!  I won’t starve!  Plus dessert—always order dessert in case everything EXCEPT the baked potato is inedible.  I will survive this dinner!

They bring the appetizer—it’s AMAZING.  I don’t know what it is but it sure is good.  The salad is equally good, but it’s hard to screw up a salad.  I’m practically licking the plate of my entrée and can’t leave that baked potato all alone (not with sour cream, bacon and butter all over it—that’s just wasteful) so I eat that too. 

Just when I think nothing else will fit into my dress, they bring out coffee and dessert.  OH. MY. GOODNESS.  Heavenly—every last morsel.  When we’re finished eating, I roll back to my room, promising to eat more sensibly tomorrow at breakfast.  Fruit—they’ll have fruit.  I’ll get a big bowl of fruit.
Breakfast comes and I’m in line at the buffet.  Ah, there’s the fruit!  I pile it up in a bowl ready to dig in.  That’s when I spot the pancakes.  I love pancakes.  Maybe just two.  Sure.  Pancakes and fruit.  Yes.  That’s it.  Until I see the bacon.  I really love bacon.  Ok, just one or two pieces.  Great.  I have bacon, pancakes and fruit.  I head over to our table and just as I’m set to eat, I realize I’ve forgotten syrup.  I go back up to the buffet and now they’ve got donuts out.  If I love bacon and pancakes I worship donuts!  Just one.  OK, I have syrup and a donut.  Getting back to the table I look at the food before me.  It doesn’t make sense to eat the cold food first, so I dig into the pancakes and bacon.  They’ll be no good if they’re not hot.  I devour the donut and frown at the bowl of fruit.  I’m so not hungry anymore.  But I said I’d eat the fruit!  I eat the fruit.  Tomorrow.  Tomorrow will be better.  FRUIT for breakfast.  Plus, there’s no way dinner tonight is going to be as good as dinner last night.  I’ll go over to the ship’s gym later and get in a good workout. 
As we walk out of the dining room, the all day ice cream bar is setting up.  Oooh.  Ice cream will be good later when it gets hot.  Later.  Later!  Definitely later.  Oh, what’s that?  Butter pecan—my favorite.  I’ll definitely try it later.  It will be good later…and it WAS good later.

I go to the gym and hop on the treadmill.  It’s surprisingly hard to even walk with the way the ship is moving.  I give up after half an hour—nowhere near the 90 minutes I’ve been working out but this is vacation after all.  I’m getting kind of hungry and realize it’s nearly dinner time.  I should head to my room to dress for dinner.  Formal again.

By night two I understand the drill and immediately skip the appetizer section and peruse the salads.  Oh a nice Caesar!  Yes.  Salad is good.  I’m confused by the entrees again but pick something.  What if it’s awful?  Better peruse that appetizer section after all—I think they have some kind of fried shrimp.  I like fried shrimp.  I play it safe and order the baked potato again (plus dessert) and am sure I won’t be as fortunate as last night.  I was wrong.  It was all good.  I ate it all.  Again.  Waddling back to my room I think that there’s no way I can be hungry again for breakfast and even if I am, fruit will be perfect.

I sink into a food coma and sleep it off.  Morning comes and I’m in the buffet line again.  There’s that pile of fruit.  I fill up a bowl.  How is it possible that I’m even remotely hungry?  Then I see the eggs Benedict.  Hmmm.  I’ve always wanted to try those.  They didn’t have them yesterday…which means they might not have them again tomorrow so I’d better get them now if I really want to try them.  I pick them up and head to my table, again, needing to eat the hot food first.  Those eggs were good.  I’m more enthusiastic about the fruit today and eat every bite.  I’m not too stuffed, which makes me feel very proud of myself.  I get up to leave and pass by the ice cream bar again.  I’m fully prepared to walk right past when I see that they have cinnamon ice cream.  Cinnamon?  Wow!  I’ve never had cinnamon ice cream!  They didn’t have that yesterday…which means they might not have it tomorrow, so I’d better get some now.  I’m not too full; I just had fruit for breakfast!  The cinnamon ice cream is amazing.  I’m so glad I got some.  Ok, that’s IT for food today.  I’m spending the rest of the day at the gym!

Except I get motion sickness from the movement.  Ugh.  The remaining five days pretty much go the same way.  Delicacy after delicacy.  New food after new food.  I do not find anything that I don’t like. 

When finally I return home to Kansas City I am afraid to step on my bathroom scale.  In a week I have gained eight pounds.  I can’t even say it was mostly water.  It took a few months to lose it but the memories of that food have never left me.  If I ever go on another cruise I’m 100% certain that the food will be just as amazing and I won’t waste precious calories on potatoes and fruit.  Bring on the buffet!

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