Sunday, March 09, 2014


One of the more encouraging things I’ve noticed about buffets like the one on the ship is that they bring out people’s creativity, and I’ve realised there’s a lot we can do to transform the mediocre food into good food with a little reorganisation.

It’s like Ikea hacking, only with a fork instead of an allen key.

My contribution to the ship’s buffet hacking lore has been to discover that the soft ricotta that’s meant to be eaten with the cold meats and cheeses in the Mediterranean section is better used with maple syrup on pancakes and French toast in the American section, where the whipped cream we’re supposed to use is that horrid canned stuff full of sugar and bleach.

The horrid whipped cream, conversely, improves the terrible coffee.

Meanwhile the forest fruits medley intended to go on pancakes can be spooned onto the boring fruit salad to make an interesting fruit salad. The green beans and carrots from the Carvery add some texture to the curries. The nuts in the Salad Bar add extra flavour to the fruit salads. Even the little lemon slices intended for black tea are used with sugar and iced water to make lemonade.

Naturally buffet hacking can be taken too far. At my hotel in Milan the chef yelled at the Chinese guest who put ham slices in the toaster in an attempt to make ersatz bacon, but only ended up making a broken toaster.

But thoughtful buffet hacking can result in some delightful flavour combinations and higher quality food. The buffet chefs on the ship don’t particularly like it, but since they’re Italians rather than Germans they don’t try to forbid it.


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