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Her World

Lobster? It Must Be New Zealand

February 22, 1987|JUDITH MORGAN | Morgan, of La Jolla, is a nationally known magazine and newspaper writer

It is not true that I think more of food when I travel. It's simply that I don't think any less.

Rome is wild strawberries in May. Stockholm is crayfish in August. London is an omelet Connaught in my hotel room after a grand night of theater.

New Zealand is lobster, with local white wine. Vancouver is pasta and a green salad in the sun of July at Umberto's Il Giardino. Kyoto is dining with Japanese friends and not asking too many questions about what's put before me.

I do sometimes query flight attendants when there is a choice of entrees. I like to fish for an opinion from those uniformed, frequent travelers.

On a flight to San Juan I asked a smiling attendant if she had tried either the Cornish game hen or the sole.

"Sorry, I haven't," she admitted. "I'm traveling with Weight Watchers these days."

I appreciate honesty.

In another of my indecisive moments in the air I asked a perky crew member whether she was going to have the chicken or manicotti.

"Neither," she said. "I brought a tuna-and-sprouts sandwich from home."

No, she would not share.

On cruise ships I lean toward the innate knowledge and instincts of the chef, when ordering. If the kitchen staff is Italian, I favor those specialties. If the kitchen is Norwegian, I smile at the salmon.

I often choose the informal deck buffet at noon--in the shade, of course--because it is a chance to view a spread of delicacies before selecting, and to go back for seconds of a perfectly piquant bean salad with pine nuts, or, perhaps, a slab of papaya.

It's also an opportunity to sit alone, or to meet new friends beyond your assigned table mates. When there are two sittings in the dining room, and you are not hungry at your appointed time, the open buffet is especially welcome.

Following a tasty buffet, off the coast of Cartagena, I stretched out in a lounge chair on the sports deck. A trim, tanned fellow strolled by and hailed a New York pal who was soaking in the Jacuzzi.

"How is it?" he asked.

After flicking a finger through the foam and close to his lips, the bather cracked:

"Better than last night's avocado soup."

Everybody's a food critic.

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