Today dawned bright and beautiful, with calming seas and crisp air, which somehow erased the unpleasant events of the previous night. I woke up to blaring music coming from the ship’s public address system at 7:45, which was the usual wake-up call for the crew. I stayed out of the way while my three roommates readied themselves ready for work, and then I made my way up to the wardroom for breakfast.
I felt much better and could actually eat, and since we were waiting for the seas to lay down, I thought I would write about the fine French cuisine we were enjoying. Breakfast is very informal, with everyone helping themselves to the cereal, freshly baked bread, juice, coffee and tea that is laid out on the table. Lunch is more formal and begins with the Commandant and his officers settling onto the wrap-around sofa in one corner of the wardroom.
Drinks and appetizers (cashews and sausage and cheese) are served, and it is a time for making pleasant conversation before the meal. Usually we do not discuss work, unless it’s very briefly. Topics of conversation range from food (Do you use the term “French fries” in France? No, they are “Belgium fries”) to travel, to politics, to the adventures of twenty-something males on port calls. One of the officers says he wants to find the Bonhomme Richard very badly, because he thinks this will secure him an invitation to lunch with President Obama. Another young officer just wants to find a woman to settle down with, and his fellow crewmembers have agreed to help him with this, but no luck so far.
After about 20 minutes, it is announced that the Commandant is served, and we take our seats at the table. I know my place, which is always to the right of the Commandant, and is a place of honor. Lunch begins with a green salad and warm brie, and always the freshly-baked aromatic French bread.
The main course is medallions of pork with a white wine cream sauce over vegetables julienne, and I’m so glad I feel well enough to really enjoy it.
As if all this weren’t enough food, dessert is molten chocolate lava cake drizzled with custard.
Interestingly, the food allotment for French Navy personnel is 4 euros per person per day, whereas in the US Navy, it is $7.00. It is impressive what the French can do for 4 euros. After lunch, we settle back onto the sofa for follow-up coffee or tea, but only for a few minutes until it’s time to get to work.
Dinner time sees the same routine. We are beginning ROV operations after lunch today...