I’m the first to admit that I am a foodie. I love food in all its wonderful forms: as a means of cultural exchange and expression, as a way to celebrate milestones large and small, and as a basic necessity for life. For me, Restaurant Week in Washington is like Christmas, seven times over, held twice a year.
If you’ve ever been on a cruise, or if you’ve ever had a 30-second conversation with a person about his or her experiences on board, no doubt you’ve discussed the subject of food. To say that a cruise ship is a floating buffet is at once completely accurate and a indisputable understatement, and this sailing of the Brilliance of the Seas is no exception.
This ship is packed with foodies, and not just the kind who appreciate the more subtle aspects of dining. Let’s be perfectly clear: there are a large number of absolute pigs on this vessel. People who shovel the food onto their plates three, four, five and even six times a day. And the standard-issue large oval plates, which are the length of my forearm and measure a full 12 inches across, may actually be part of the problem.
It’s not so uncommon to see morbidly obese people on this ship who have passed out in a deck chair next to a half-eaten plate of the day’s offerings. Pudgy children roam the informal dining room unattended, alternatively gorging themselves of an unlimited supply of french fries and soft-serve ice cream.
And people who aren’t all there mentally, like the woman we’ve dubbed the Fruit Lady, exhibit the worst manners. In the instance of the Fruit Lady, she actually removes the garnishes from every single prepared dessert and eats the fruit. Imagine a cheese cake, cut into 12 slices, which a blueberry atop each piece. As soon as the cake is set out, along comes the Fruit Lady, who digs out the garnish and eats it, leaving the naked dessert in her path. (Fortunately, the crew noticed that the Fruit Lady doesn’t like strawberries, and now, I kid you not, absolutely everything in the dessert area is garnished with strawberries. My family can attest that I am not exaggerating about this woman.)
Let me be clear that I recognize many people institutionalize eating as part of their vacations. I make a point of eating in the formal dining room every night because, quite frankly, I love the food. But I only have one portion, and I’m only eating three meals a day!
The saddest thing, of course, is the amount of food that gets wasted. When the food is free and unlimited, people tend to forget that there are hundreds of millions of hungry children on the planet. The amount of food that people leave behind on their plates is abhorrent, especially when it’s children whose parents let them stack the Ovals of Obesity with junk food that ultimately goes into the garbage. The photo below is but one example of the waste – someone, perhaps a child or an adult, loaded a bowl with ice cream and sprinkles, and when they tired of it, they left it sitting in a public hallway. Sometimes, food brings out the worst in people.
But cruise vacations are expensive, and there is a feeling among many people that they paid for the food, so they should enjoy as much of it as they like. It’s almost a running joke that some guests talk about as they ride in the elevators to lunch in the Windjammer, the aforementioned informal dining room that I liken to a giant trough (I can’t be too judgmental, however, since I too have enjoyed my share of salads and entrees, and even a dessert, at The Trough).
But the fact remains that ours is the fattest nation on the globe, and whatever it was that caused that is playing itself out aboard this ship in a big way. Like, in a size 52 waist kind of way.
I’m no stranger to the formal dining room!
But really, people have to have better manners when it comes to food on board a cruise ship!