FINE DINING ON THE HIGH SEAS
Kathryn Woods is currently assigned to the USS McFaul (DDG-74). I asked her if she'd be so kind as to comment on the food served on board ship, particularly the salad. Her reply is printed below in it's entirety.
I'll start with the salad bar: yes, we do have one. It's actually pretty good. When I originally got on board, the lettuce of choice was iceberg. The mess staff would usually set up the lettuce in its big plastic bowl (which goes into a refrigerated salad bar) the night before and store it in the big refrigerator deck; often, the temperature in there got a bit on the too-cold side and the lettuce would really do justice to the name "iceberg". Not too long ago, though, we had a Supply inspection and suddenly we were getting wonderful, green romaine lettuce. And the refer deck seemed to get fixed (no more lettucicles). Everyone raved (I made certain to complement the Senior Chief in charge), so the romaine has stayed.
Otherwise, the fixings are fairly typical: cheese, sometimes mushrooms, ham, sometimes eggs, chopped green peppers, etc...and usually there's a very good selection of salad dressings (we're still working on a bottle of, get this, "red wine vinegrette" salad dressing, which I really like).
On the food: generally speaking, the food here is mostly what I'd call "comfort food". It's usually typical Americana (fried or baked chicken, baked or fried fish, beef stew or roast beef), often fried or cooked in a lot of butter. Your average meal is going to have some kind of soup (beef, vegetable, chicken noodle, Navy bean, cream of mushroom, cream of corn, etc...), two meats, rice or potatoes (occassionally noodles), and two vegetables.
Occassionally we have Mexican days (I like those; the chicken and corn and rice are really good and they put tortillas and tacos out), sometimes we have Chinese or Phillipino or Italian days -- chow mein, sweet & sour chicken, lasagna, pasta with meat sauce and garlic bread, that sort of thing. The main courses are usually pretty high-calorie, too; the cooks here love the deep fat fryer. Coincidentally, did you know that the Cole doesn't have one? When they rebuilt the kitchen, they took it out. Too much of a hazard, apparently, so now all their food is baked, boiled or broiled.
Every Wednesday is "Slider Day": hamburgers (easily converted to cheeseburgers), hot dogs, and either tuna or chicken salad, with fries and two vegetables. It's custom to count your deployment down not by "days remaining" but "Slider Days remaining". There's always fresh fruit of some kind on the line. We usually have strawberries. Lately we've got pears (bosc, I think) and lots of melon. We often have pineapple, apples, and oranges, and every couple of weeks they chop up a watermelon. Often, there's yoghurt available, and there's always cereals of some different kinds (including, amazingly enough, healthy kinds). Desserts are usually available in the form of cake (cheesecake, box cake, etc...), cookies (I can't stay away from these they're so good), or brownies.
Drinks include coffee, "froo-froo coffee" (fancy stuff like capuccinio & irish cream, but the froo-froo coffee machine is [sob!] broken), milk, chocolate milk, water, iced-tea, hot water (for making hot tea), and a juice machine. The juice varies -- usually orange juice is available, and presently we also have pineapple, mango, black cherry, and an assortment of "drinks" like "blue hawaiian". I have no idea what it is; all I know is that if you mix it with the orange juice it makes a weird green drink that freaks out your shipmates. I personally usually drink orange juice with a dab of black cherry; it makes an orange/red drink I called "Otto Fuel II" (after the fuel we use in our torpedoes).
There's also bread. Usually white bread, sometimes wheat, with margerine and cream cheese. For breakfast we sometimes get croissants, and usually there are english muffins out. Usually there's something sweet like donuts or cinnamon rolls, streusel, etc... Today there was raisin bread, too. Breakfast, by the way, consists of bacon or ham or sausage (or sometimes both), hard-boiled eggs, hash-browns, some form of griddle bread (pancakes, waffles, french toast), farina or grits, and you can also get eggs cooked to order (typical mixings: ham, green peppers, cheese, onions, mushrooms,
Breakfast is usually 6-7am. Lunch is usually 11:30am-1pm. Dinner is usually 4:30-5:30pm. And then we have something called "Midrats" (Midnight Rations), from 9:30-10:30pm. Midrats are usually either deep-fried (i.e., fast & easy) or leftovers (i.e., fast & easy).
Personally, I tend towards eating the sides and staying away from the meats (I try to keep it down to one meat per day, usually breakfast). But all in all, it's a pretty good spread. I have to say, though, that high seas are hell on the bakers (see attached pic).