Day 89 — Mar 30 — At Sea
Last night, we finish passing Somalia and went through the “Bab El Mandeb” straight and entered the “Red Sea”.
Today I compete in “Master Chef” and I go over my recipe again to make sure I know it. I arrive and go up on stage and the competition begins. We have 10 minutes to collect all our ingredients from the “Pantry” section and I have a written list I have made to help me. I get all the ingredients onto my “Station” and there is still 4 minutes left. So I go over my list a second time, but I have all I need.
Then the audience is coached to count down from 10 and the cooking begins. I peel a potato and dice it and into the pot of cold water it goes. Apply heat and cover the pot. Then to julienne red peppers and chilies. Dice up an onion and a tomato and crush and chop garlic. Into the Pan with all of this and I think this is easy.
“NINE MINUTES REMAINING, CHEF’S!” Comes the announcement! Wait! Nine minutes? I haven’t even cut my chicken! I get my knife busy and in about a minute my chicken is in the pan, cut and the cooking moves forward. Toss in the peppers and onion and garlic and oil and butter and it’s all in the pan.
Potatoes are done and I quickly drain them and set aside. Into the pan goes the spices I have mixed and ground to powder. Cover it and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Oops, only 7 minutes left. Turn it to high and let’s forget the simmer. Chop the parsley for garnish while it cooks and stir the pot occasionally. A plate is brought to me for “Plating” and I wait until I hear, “LESS THAN A MINUTE TO GO, CHEF’S!”
So I ‘Plate’ the dish and as I do, I let the juice drain and stay behind because I didn’t have time to reduce it properly. This turns out to be my fatal mistake. I garnish the dish with parsley and deliver it to the judges. Upon tasting my “Pepper Chicken”, the judges criticize it for not have enough ‘sauce’. I come in second place behind another chef that undercooked her pasta. After the competition ends, the judges catch wind that I had a sauce but didn’t plate it and they taste it. I see one of the judges in the restaurant later and he tells me that if I had ‘plated’ the ‘sauce’, I would have won, “Hands Down”.
Oh well, live and learn. So I will continue to attend the remainder of the competition and support Elee in hopes that she can win.
There is no show tonight so Elee and I visit a shipmate at the early dinner sitting and go to the bar and listen to a couple perform dance tunes before turning in for the night.
Day 90 — Mar 31 — At Sea
We travel up the Red Sea and our clocks go back another hour. We are now 20 hours from where we began in London. I have begun walking in the mornings as they are cooler than the last month has been. I know I have gained too much weight with no Ports to walk around in and the amount of cruise ship food and alcohol available at no charge. We are torn between cutting back and knowing we will have to cut back upon returning home. We are luckier than most people in the world, being able to congregate and socialize on the ship. My camera gets a small thrill as I allow it to take shots of another cruise ship as we pass it.
I go to my Darts League and unfortunately don’t make it through to the finals. The Assistant Cruise Director that runs it asks if I will photograph the show tonight for him. I agree and it’s kind of fun to shoot a gig aboard ship. Several passengers question why I, just a passenger aboard, can take photos of a copyrighted show. The Cruise Director comes out on stage and announces that ‘a photographer from CMV Main Office’ will be photographing the show! I look around for this person but don’t see him. Oh wait, it’s me! My camera is again happy!
After the show we get together with friends and go to dinner in the Asian Fusion Restaurant and the meal is excellent! Then it’s a nightcap and off to slumberland.