It’s not quite at the level of that David Foster Wallace essay about a cruise ship, but this New York Times article about the Queen Mary 2 captures the wonderful, artificial, and strangely appealing ennui that defines the modern cruise experience.
“You are far more likely to meet a salesman from Des Moines aboard the QM2 than a barrister, novelist, fashion designer or duke,” book critic Dwight Garner noted wryly. “Cunard pushes ‘luxury’ as much as luxury.”
Which explains why he chose to describe Todd English’s on-ship restaurant thusly:
We ate once in the Todd English Restaurant — you pay a supplement to dine there — where the food pops more than it does in the Britannia. But here you must survive near-toxic levels of smugness and pomposity. As soon as you notice that the appetizers include something called “Todd’s Truffled Potato Love Letters,” you know you are in for it, in a Nicholas Sparks kind of way.
You read Mr. English’s biography, printed inside. Here’s just the first sentence: “One of the most decorated, respected, and charismatic chefs in the world, Todd English has enjoyed a staggering number of accolades during his remarkable career.” Then you lurch outside to the deck and throw yourself overboard.
We are appalled at Mr. Garner’s insensitivity towards Mr. English. Once upon a time, Todd sent truffled potatoes to the woman he fell in love with one magical summer, but she never sent him truffled potatoes back; heartbroken, Todd traveled the world and opened way too many restaurants. Mr. Garner, you don’t know the meaning of true love.
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