Friday, April 4, 2014

Cruise ship galleys cook up shipboard tricks, treats

Dozens of cheese plates in the Serenade's galley will be paired with nuts, crackers and veggies for pretty appetizers.


These edible appetizers were created for a special party on board.

This happy worker prepares peppers for shipboard stir fry.
WHEN THE waiter delivers your dinner to a beautifully set cruise table, or the room steward presents you with a special dessert, you enjoy it. The lights are low, the champagne is chilled, romance is in the air.
You admire the presentation, toast the chef and company, dine with relish. You appreciate the ritual of being served and surprised in an exotic setting, moving smoothly through the water. All is calm.  All is right. Ah bliss. You're on holiday.
But behind the scenes, a world of meticulous planning and expertly choreographed preparation is unfolding.  It involves dozens of workers who arise in the dark to prepare your feasts long before you arise -- even before your ship sets sail.  The planning continues 24-7.
Hundreds of rolls are freshly baked each day aboard ship.
WE WERE treated to an inside look at the planning, shopping, chopping, baking, freezing, peeling, marinating, whipping, dicing, browning, stuffing, broasting, frying, roasting.
Freshness and eye appeal are huge on the criteria list of a successful cruise line.
We've toured galleys on Crystal, Cunard, Oceania, Princess, Holland America, Carnival, Disney and many other lines.  Our recent Royal Caribbean galley tour, aboard the Serenade, was   eye-opening, informative and entertaining.
IN ITS most simple definition, a galley is simply a kitchen aboard a moving vessel -- or ship.  The Roman ships had galleys. Ancient Greek sailors cooked food on stone over a fire at midships.
The ship's galley is time-honored, tradition, but today's sailing clientele wants chateaubriand and creme brule, not a hunk of meat or a bowl of gruel.

Keller and Cookie are dressed up and heading to dinner.
Teamwork is crucial in the galley with hundreds of meals served several times a day.  Food is constantly being prepared for the formal dining rooms, specialty restaurants, snack bars, VIP parties, private functions and room service. Among the hundreds of staff on a cruise ship galley are anywhere from five to 15 chefs de cuisine, as many as 100 or more cooks, 25-50 galley stewards to keep the prep areas clean, and another team in the dish cleaning area. There is often a fish prep room and there are always section heads to oversee each area: veggies, fish, meat, sauces, desserts.

Ship's galleys thrive on
efficient use of space.
 A SHIP'S GALLEY is laid out in an efficient, space conscious style with long storage units and overhead cabinets. The design makes maximum use of limited space and anticipates the rolling and heaving nature of ships, making them more resistant to movement and jerking.
An efficient system in the ship's galley makes certain that
each course looks unique, even though hundreds are dining.
Our tour director aboard the Serenade explained that galley stoves are usually gimballed, so that the liquid in pans does not spill out. They are also commonly equipped with bars, preventing the cook from falling against the hot stove if the ship hits a rogue wave or swell.
BEFORE YOU bite, a bit more trivia about the history of ships' galleys. Centuries ago, a small kitchen on deck was called a caboose or camboose, originating from the Dutch word kombuis which is still in use today. In English it is a defunct term used occasionally for a cooking area above decks on a small vessel.

COMING UP:  Take a look at the "Suite Life" --  it couldn't be sweeter, when our veteran travelers have a look at a few presidential suites and owners' quarters aboard ship. Remember to explore, learn and live.  Visit us Wednesdays and weekends and tell your friends, please! 

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