Making The Most Of The Cuisine While Cruising

Cruise Ship Cuisine
Increasing numbers of people are choosing to travel and spend their vacations on board cruise ships. In fact over the past ten years the cruise industry has increased its passenger numbers by 7.6% a year. The industry has finally managed to shake off its reputation as a holiday choice for older generations with food being limited to formal and stuffy dining rooms.

Cruising the Mediterranean
The cruise ships now offer a great range of dining options with choices spanning from casual BBQs to the original formal dining areas meaning that they cater for all tastes. The dining is also more flexible now and passengers can choose where and when they want to eat, with ‘anytime dining’ becoming the new buzz word. The quality of the food has also improved vastly and many ships now offer specialty restaurants for guests to choose from. However, these restaurants generally incur a cover charge, which is usually about £12 (around $18) per person.

Sample the food as you go

If you enjoy food and exploring the different types of cuisines as you travel, then why not try eating ashore some days while on your cruise. Sampling freshly produced local food can give you a real insight to the culture of an area, as well as enabling you to interact with local people. In fact food tourism is a growing sector. A cruise can offer you the perfect way to sample a range of different cultures and cuisines within one vacation.

This is especially true of a Mediterranean cruise as you will visit a range of different countries with their unique cultures and cuisines. On a ten-day cruise you could manage to sample authentic local food from eight different countries. Not many other holiday types can offer that! One day you could be eating Moussaka in Greece, and the next day trying a meze in Turkey. Sampling the food of a country is the best way to get to the heart of their culture.

Here is a look at some of the Mediterranean’s delicious cuisines that you could sample while on your cruise.

Greek gastronomy
Greek Saganaki
Greek food has evolved throughout history absorbing influences from Turkey, the Balkans and the Middle East. Contemporary Greek food uses olive oil, vegetables and herbs, fish, meat, honey, yogurt, cheese, aubergine and courgette. Greek food uses flavors more dominantly than many other Mediterranean cuisines. The use of oregano, mint, garlic, onion, dill and bay leaves are commonplace. The climate and terrain of Greece means that goats and sheep are bred more often than cattle, so beef is not often found on menus. Eating out is very popular in Greece with locals and tourists alike so you won’t have any difficulty in finding a great restaurant to stop at. Typical dishes include, Saganaki, Tzatziki, Taramosalata, Greek salad, Gyros, Moussaka, Pastitsio, and Souvlaki.

Italian treats
Italian fregato alla veneziana
Most of us are familiar with Italian food already as it is widely accepted as one of the most popular cuisines in the world. However, authentic Italian food eaten in Italy is in a different league to what you will have tried back at home. One of the main characteristics of Italian food is its simplicity. Many dishes have only a handful of ingredients with Italian chefs emphasizing the importance of the quality of ingredients as opposed to elaborate preparation. Cheese, pasta and wine are key elements to Italian cuisine and many of them are household names throughout the world, such as mozzarella, spaghetti, mascarpone, tagliatelle, Chianti and Montalcino. Why not try some new dishes while in Italy as opposed to sticking to the world famous ones? Look out for Fritto Misto (pasta with wild boar sauce), fregato alla veneziana (liver and onions), fiori fritti (deep fried courgette) and risotto alle seppie (cuttlefish risotto).

Croatian platters
Sporki Makaruli - Croatia 
Croatian food draws upon a variety of European influences resulting in a great mix of dishes. The influence varies depending where in Croatia you are. However the over-riding power over the Croatian cuisine is the sea. The Adriatic Sea provides the country with a rich diversity of fresh fish, shellfish, squid and lobster. You can expect that the majority of the menus you will peruse in Croatia will be dominated by seafood. However, there is much more to Croatian food than just fish. The lamb produced in the country is known to have an especially tender taste due to the aromatic herbs that make up their diet. Homemade pasta with a goulash type sauce is a staple food that has long been known as peasant dish but is making a popular comeback in restaurants. Dubrovnik is famous for sporki makaruli which is a meaty goulash served with homemade macaroni and dusted with grated hard cheese.

French delights
French food is another world-famous cuisine that most people have sampled at some stage in their life whether it be a baguette at lunch, a slice of brie on a cheese platter, or champagne during a celebration. France is well-known for its high quality food, and the fact that the term ‘haute cuisine’ originates there speaks volumes! Dishes that are traditional to the Mediterranean coast of France include Ratatouille, Nicoise salad, Bouillabaisse and Tapenade.

An authentic experience

By making the effort to get out and try the local cuisines of the countries that you visit you will gain a more authentic experience of their individual cultures and the fascinating people within them. You may also find that you return home with a greater appreciation of what can be done with food and might want to try recreating the dishes! I know I do!

Guest Post Author: Laura Turnbridge - A freelance writer and co-author of various travel guides.

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