As a casual glance in my direction quickly makes evident, food has always had a heavy influence in my life. How heavy? Last time I stepped on the scale in my drawers it was 17.1429 stone heavy. (240 pounds American).

The Fun Club cruise of the Rhine River that Good Wife Norma and I thoroughly enjoyed earlier this month took ‘fine dining’ to places we had heretofore not experienced.

We were served four- and five-course meals each evening in lingering, memorable dinners aboard the Amadeus Brilliant as we explored some 400 miles of the Rhine and Mosel rivers from Switzerland through France to Cologne, Germany.

There were several chefs aboard; one for breads, one for pastries, another for sauces and soups, a third for this, a fourth for that, a fifth for the other.

The results of their talent and hard work amazed and delighted everyone.

What’s the big deal about lunch, you ask? Isn’t lunch just, well, lunch?

No, it’s not, as we came to learn. I wonder, what did you have for lunch Sunday, Dec. 8?

Sitting in the dining room, docked at Rudesheim, Germany, I began with the to-die-for salad bar to which I added Beef Bouillon and Meat Stroudel and then – ‘From Our Carving Station’ – Roasted Suckling Piglet.

Other options in addition to the suckling piglet that day included: Kessler, Whole Fried Chicken, Beef Goulash, Meat Loaf, Bratwurst, Curry Wurst, Weisswurst and much more … just for lunch.

Laid out for us on the hot buffet was Whole River Trout Mullerin Style, plus side dishes of Roasted Potatoes, Bavarian Cabbage Salad, Lentil Bean Stew, Sauerkraut, Sautéed Vegetables and Bread Dumplings.

The dessert buffet that Sunday noon was a wonderment: Bavarian Cream, Vanilla Pudding and Gotterspeise, Apricot Sponge Roulade, Dampnudeln and Custard. All this fortified by an old stand-by that translates in any language to a deluxe ice cream station loaded with flavors and toppings with which to fill your fancy-schmancy stemmed dessert goblet.

I did not go to Europe to hork down burgers, fries and chicken fingers. This was always going to be an adventure for me, including the food.

I enthusiastically embraced pig knuckles, pork cheeks (as the name implies, the meat is gouged from a hog’s face just below the eyes), Oxtail Consommé and Profiteroles (root vegetables) and the aforementioned whole baby pig, carved and served as we presented our plates to the chef. I was horribly torn between Duck Breast and Duck Leg Confit a la Orange on the one hand and Sesame Crusted Butterfish on the other come Saturday night, Dec. 7. What to do? I went with the fish, GWN ordered up the duck and we shared. Crisis averted.

I availed myself of Seared Halibut and Bouillabaisse Sauce with Creamy White Beans, an appetizer of Tuna Fish and Crab Meat Tartar, Slow Roasted Beef and Tiger Prawn as well as Veal Pate Praline and Mascarpone-Cucumber Gele, Veal Loin Steak with Boletus Mushroom Sauce, Cream of Yellow Bell Pepper with Gray Fish Tails and Broad Beans, and of course your favorite and mine, Monkfish Medallions Cataplana.

Dessert? Don’t get me started. With lights dimmed there was a flaming Baked Alaska Parade to our tables en masse by the wait staff, Yogurt Quenelles and Crocant (berries ragout) and a Chocolate Lava Cake and Raspberry Coulis with Pistachio Ice Cream so decadent it would be immediately banned in America.

Hey, how about trying a similar experience for yourself? The Fun Club does tours up right, which is why their river cruise to Normandy, Paris and the Seine River next October is already on a waiting list.

Still available – but only if you hurry – are Yellowstone, Glacier and Grand Teton national parks this July and what will be a delightful, insightful tour of Iceland this coming June. There is also a slew of less lengthy trips from which to choose.

GWN and Ole’ Mose say “Check out York Fun Club.” You won’t be sorry. Promise.

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