In Part 2, I spoke of being a waiter in Amsterdam at the 5-star Hotel Pays Bas and wrote of Han van Meegeren, the notorious art forger. His forgeries were discovered through X-rays. Once it was confirmed the “Vermeer” and other “masterpieces” were in fact fakes, it wasn’t long before the finger was pointed at Han van Meegeren. He was charged, arrested and put on trial.
The sign of a good waiter (or steward as they’re called, at sea) is someone who “is there but not there”. Standing discreetly back from the table, yet aware of any needs and acting swiftly accordingly, being pre-informed about the day’s menu - - these are all characteristics of a good waiter.
All the beer, wine, liqueurs and cognacs were supervised and handled by the Sommelier, who was easily recognizable with his burgundy jacket and a silver taste cup hanging on a chain around his neck. All the glasses were fine crystal. Everything served hot was always covered with a lid; vegetables and potatoes were served in silver bowls, sauces in silver sauce bowls. Mustard and ketchup (for the Americans!) were kept in small glass jars in a silver container with a lid. The choices available on any menu, whether breakfast, luncheon or supper were plentiful, as expected. Pampering is not sufficient a word to use here! There were no windows or portholes in the dining room. The ship was designed for Transatlantic crossings, which can be spooky at times.
We could quickly spot the shady passengers, or the ‘boors’ who’d extinguish their cigars into a cognac glass. And trying to ‘educate’ those passengers was a waste of time and effort.