Last night after a long, drawn out fire drill, I pop down into the mess for a light snack before hitting the rack. For the first time, I hunt around the whole mess, searching out where everything is stored. Unlike my last tiny, dirty, poorly-outfitted ship, this ship is mammoth, clean, well-appointed and well-stocked. The mess is a full-size cafeteria affair with a 15 ft steam table, double refrigerated cabinet, salad cooler, bread table, coffee, bar and a host of other features. Throw in the wall-to wall dry cabinets and I have a fair bit of digging to do.
My previous ship had been in US waters for some years. The crew was 99% US. The stores came from Mississippi. This ship hasn't been to US waters in a Coon's age, if ever. The crew is made up of Poles, Brits, Malays, Filipinos, Aussies, Kiwis, Indians, Russians, Scots and Vietnamese. And me. The stores are all from southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand. After about a half hour of digging around the mess and the dry stores behind the galley, I realized that once again, I am on a truly international ship and there's no dang ketchup. I'm not a fan of ketchup. There aren't any fries onboard, no hamburgers, or pasties. No reason to use ketchup. Still, it's one of those things l like hanging around, I guess.
I settle on a package of something unpronounceable, but resembling raman noodles. It smells like Thai food, spicy and aromatic. Pleasant taste, but I don't know what it is. Sans ketchup, I choose to pour a small amount of a bottle labeled "sweet chili sauce for chicken", product of Malaysia, onto my psuedo-raman noodles. I vaguely remember putting something similar on my eggs ( Satanic Eared-Nightjar eggs, not chicken ) when last on this ship, in Borneo, Singapore and Myanmar (formerly Burma). It doesn't compliment the aromatic noodles, well. My snack is a bust.
Thinking I might as well be eating a shaved and oiled ferret (Inside joke), I toss the failure into the garbage and hunt some more. Mind you, dinner was steamed peaches, onions and chicken breast in mango sauce, wrapped in filo bread. Nasty. A tray of cold cuts offers promise, but upon investigation, none of the cuts are familiar and all are too spicy and taste "off", to my decidedly Americanized palate, of the last two years. The cheeses were all alien and only 2 were to my liking. Once again, I brave the brown goat cheese and once again, gag. Can't seem to develop a taste for it and finally it can join the ranks of vegemite and ludifisk, never to be eaten again.
As a last resort, I halve two kiwis, slurp down an expired yogurt and as I'm leaving, check one more cabinet and find small bags of Doritos. Not a fan of these, either, but they are a reminder of home and America and ketchup, fries, burgers and Budweiser. I read the bag. It's 50 grams of Australian corn, Cheeso Supremeo flavor with 1020 units of energy noted on the nutritional label. I put them back.
Not quite home.