Monday, November 1, 2010

Food on a Cruise

I just returned from cruising on Carnival Glory from Norfolk, Virginia, to Nassau and Freeport in the Bahamas. I used to travel for the joy of eating exotic foods in equally exotic locations, but these days, eating while traveling is a different kind of adventure.
For insurance, I packed food to take with me, such as almond butter packets, organic trail mix, my favorite chocolate bars, instant oatmeal, crackers, and popcorn.
The first day on the ship, we ate dinner in the dining room. I found pasta and steamed vegetables that were fresh, not frozen and precut, so I ordered the pasta without sauce and the vegetables plain. Our waiters brought me olive oil and lemon slices to use as a dressing. I explained my food requests while my husband and our dinner companions enjoyed Indian food, steak and lobster.
The next day, we had purchased an excursion to Atlantis. The cruise directer asked that we not take food off the ship, but I brought unopened almond butter packets. I saw whole fruit in others' bags, so I regretted not packing my trail mix, but I was able to find fresh fruit on the island. Later back on the ship, I started a habit of a predinner of salad, fruit, and a baked potato from the buffet. That night I enjoyed a salad followed by broiled Mahi Mahi with a baked potato and steamed vegetables, which were very good together.
The next day, we explored the capital city of Nassau. We walked to Bay Street and wandered down a side street where a cafe advertising espresso drew in my husband. Since I didn't want coffee, they tempted me with fresh squeezed lemonade with the perfect balance of tartness, sweetness, and refreshing ice water. They assured me that it was made from bottled water and bought ice, and I did not get sick. On our way back, a downpour trapped us into the little indoor mall set up for reboarding the ships. There  a vendor with a small frier and pans covered in foil drew my attention. I bought a pork chop, fried plantains, and steamed rice as she enthusiastically described her cooking preparations and how she grew some of her ingredient. Seasoned with salt and pepper, the tender pork melted in my mouth, and the plantains were fried to soft perfection. We enjoyed them sitting on a concrete pillar under the awning waiting for the rain to stop. It will be one of my fondest memories of the trip along with an unexpected encounter with a sea turtle while snorkeling in Freeport.
Toward the end of the trip, the kitchen began to run out of things, so dinner continued to be steamed vegetables and  plain pasta. Once I tried two bites of the steak, but it was clearly marinated in something that made me a little sick even though I was assured that it was not seasoned in any way.
Lunch on the ship left me with few options, so on the way back I tried the ship manager's suggestion of speaking with the the maĆ®tre d' the night before to put in a special request. The restaurant staff made cheesecake especially for me, though they couldn't resist decorating the top with a sauce I couldn't eat. The plain pasta also came with a sauce and sauteed vegetables. But everything was made right by the ever attentive wait staff, while my husband enjoyed the mistake cheesecake.
I was somewhat nervous about eating on the ship, but I got sick only a little and only once, so I think that I did pretty well. Though it wasn't the immersion experience of exotic tastes and smells that I appreciated in my life before food sensitivities, I did enjoy food experiences that are memorable in a positive way.