Eating Aboard the Queen Mary 2


Photo Courtesy of Wendy Littlefield

My husband Don and I first crossed the Atlantic on an ocean liner together in 1979. It was the Queen Elizabeth 2. We had recently eloped. Don was done with his first year of graduate school and I had finished college. We'd decided to live in Europe. Ease of obtaining working papers and a wealth of European headquarters for American companies made Brussels the logical choice.

You may think that the QE2 was the romantic way to go. Indeed it was, but we also chose the QE 2 because it was the cheapest mode of transport to Europe for relocating students. We paid $346 per person and could bring unlimited luggage along. It was a fantastic trip. The average age on board was upwards of 60, and then as now young people are treated especially indulgently.

We'll report on the trip and most especially on the dining experience on board.

Thirty years later, we are crossing again, and the voyage is still a bargain. You can sail for considerably less than the cost of a one-way business class ticket between Brussels and New York. We are going to spend the summer in Belgium before relocating to Chicago from New York. It is wonderful to be able to punctuate this new chapter of our lives with a journey on a Cunard vessel. We'll report on the trip and most especially on the dining experience on board. As callow youths in 1979 we could not have predicted that our professional lives would come to center so squarely on food and on cross-cultural exchange--two leitmotifs of life aboard ship.

A biographical note: Since our return from Belgium in 1982 we have imported Belgian beers. We built (and subsequently sold) a farmstead microbrewery devoted to bottle conditioned, cork-finished, Belgian-style beers. We were the first Americans ever inducted into the Belgian Brewers Guild in its 500 year history. Don raised the venture capital to expand Dean & DeLuca. I helped to found the Cooperstown Farmers' Market and a Slow Food chapter. I am at work on a venture to aggregate buying of local & sustainable foods at colleges across New York State. We are both interested in how institutional food service works. The Queen Mary is an awesome example of institutional food of a high order.