The Last Dinner on the Titanic

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by kimmie, Aug 21, 2002.

  1. kimmie

    kimmie

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    On the evening of April 14, 1912 a number of first-class passengers on the Titanic revelled in a privately hosted feast in the first-class á la carte restaurant. At the same time in the first-class dining saloon other first-class passengers - some who had paid the equivalent of $124,000 in today's dollars for the ocean voyage - settled in for a sumptuous, if over-filling, ten-course extravaganza. Meanwhile, in the second-class dining saloon, second-class passengers ate a less elaborate but beautifully served dinner. And on F deck in what would be called "steerage" in lesser vessels, third-class passengers ate simply prepared, hearty meals served in their own spartan dining saloon.

    Several hours later, in the early morning of April 15th, the Titanic sank taking 1581 passengers and crew - many well fed and lubricated - to their untimely deaths.

    What is the fascination with "last meals"? Last meals of executed criminals are usually reported in the media: "For his last meal he ordered fried chicken, a Caesar salad and apple pie á la mode." None of these meals would appeal to the gourmet but for some reason they hold our interest. (One can argue whether last meals for convicted criminals are expressions of kindness or cruelty and give compelling arguments for each position)

    Before we die most of us will have unrecognized last meals and for the most part little will be made of them by those who survive us. What sets the last meal on the Titanic apart? Is it that so many died, together, at one time, and that for the first-class passengers at least, their "last meals" were glorious feasts, brilliantly prepared and flawlessly served in an atmosphere of elegance and luxury - with death waiting in the wings? Or is it that the last meal provides a touchstone to the sinking that is accessible to each of us in gustatory terms we all understand? Or is it that the "last dinner" on the Titanic is simply a metaphor for seizing each moment as if it's the last.

    There were only two menus recovered from the Titanic for the night of the 14th. One of these - the first-class menu - is reproduced below. While the manner in which the courses were prepared is not actually known in detail, a recent book by Rick Archibald gives an excellent account of the probable preparation based on similar practice on other White Star Line vessels, White Star's German competition and recipes of renowned chefs of the day. [Archibald, Rick (1997) The Last Dinner on the Titanic. Madison Press Books, Toronto. 144 pages]. Those interested in re-creating the last dinner and willing to spend ample time in preparation should consult Archibald for full details.

    Titanic sank during the last years of the Edwardian era before World War I where the privileged ate and drank with an abandon guaranteed to increase girth and shorten lifespan. Food was rich and fatty, and courses were accompanied with wine and liquor in sufficient variety and quantity to yield magnificent hangovers. As you go over the following menu, take it slowly and try to imagine the impact of each successive course as if consumed in the robust fashion of the day.


    The First-Class Menu

    As served in the first-class dining saloon of the R.M.S. Titanic on April 14, 1912

    First Course
    Hors D'Oeuvres
    Oysters

    Second Course
    Consommé Olga
    Cream of Barley

    Third Course
    Poached Salmon with Mousseline Sauce, Cucumbers

    Fourth Course
    Filet Mignons Lili
    Saute of Chicken, Lyonnaise
    Vegetable Marrow Farci

    Fifth Course
    Lamb, Mint Sauce
    Roast Duckling, Apple Sauce
    Sirloin of Beef, Chateau Potatoes
    Green Pea
    Creamed Carrots
    Boiled Rice
    Parmentier & Boiled New Potatoes

    Sixth Course
    Punch Romaine

    Seventh Course
    Roast Squab & Cress

    Eighth Course
    Cold Asparagus Vinaigrette

    Ninth Course
    Pate de Foie Gras
    Celery

    Tenth Course
    Waldorf Pudding
    Peaches in Chartreuse Jelly
    Chocolate & Vanilla Eclairs
    French Ice Cream

    The repast was served with a different wine for each course. Following the tenth course fresh fruits and cheeses were available followed by coffee and cigars accompanied by port and, if desired, distilled spirits. If you have to have a last dinner, you could do a lot worse!

    © 1998 Gary Fisher
     
  2. glutz

    glutz

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    an interesting Gastronomic menu from past,
    what did the 'Plebs" eat ?

    :lips:
     
  3. isa

    isa

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  4. sweetie pie

    sweetie pie

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    My son tried to make the Waldorf  Pudding.  His pudding never set.

    I questioned him about the Bain Marie and he said the instructions were to fill if half way up the baking dish.

    I'm sure he did not adequately pre-heat his oven. do you think that might have been the reason it didn't set?
     
  5. sweetie pie

    sweetie pie

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  6. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    He didn't fill it with hot water.
     
  7. kaven

    kaven

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    Can't boil water
    how did you known it
     
  8. sweetie pie

    sweetie pie

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    He said he filled it half way as instructed in the recipe. Did it have to be filled to the top?  I'm sure you are right...I bet the water wasn't hot enough