Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Last Dinner on the Titanic

A surprisingly large number of people around the world will gather together for dinner tonight to share the re-creation of the last dinner served aboard the Titanic, Sunday April 14, 1912, just hours before the Titanic hit an iceberg.

The Mister and I shared such a dinner 10 years ago at a St. Petersburg restaurant. It was a private dinner, and each guest was given the identity of a First Class passenger. We wore formal dress and stayed in character during the sumptuous meal. The meal included several, but not all of the 9 courses served in 1912.

Just prior to dinner, in 1912, the elegantly dressed ladies and men walked down the grand staircase. The women wore spring gowns of the very latest fashion purchased in Paris. As opposed to the Third Class, who for the most part were emigrating from Europe, the wealthy First Class were returning from trips abroad. For many, the trip home was a reunion of sorts. The passengers knew each other from society. A list of passengers was provided to each stateroom so they could seek each other out and spend their leisure time enjoying each other's company.

Dinnner clothing was chosen by personal maids from the many trunks and hatboxes each passenger brought with them. A good portion of each day was spent changing clothing - as often as 5 times a day - to meet society's rigorous Edwardian dress codes. What one wore to breakfast, or lunch or tea or to promenade on deck was not acceptable at dinner.

The tables were set with elegant china, dazzling silverware and cut crystal. Fresh flowers and candles adorned each table. Impeccable waitstaff saw to their every need. The needs of First Class were very great.

The 1912 menu listed the following delicacies:

Hors d'Oeuvre Varies
Consomme Olga
Cream of Barley
Mousseline Sauce
Filet Mignons Lili
Saute of Chicken Lyonnaise
Vegetable Marrow Farci
Lamb with Mint Sauce
Roast Duckling with Applesauce
Sirloin of Beef
Chateau Potatoes
Green Peas
Creamed Carrots
Boiled Rice
Parmentier of New Potatoes
Punch Romaine
Roasted Squab on Cress
Cold Asparagus Vinaigrette
Pate de Foi Gras
Waldorf Pudding
Peaches in Chartreuse Jelly
Chocolate and Vanilla Eclairs

Second Class dinners, although not as elegant and not offering as many courses, were better than most of the passengers were used to. They were offered a soup or consomme, a main course with several choices of meats and vegetables, and puddings, ice creams and fruit and cheese for desert.

Being Third Class on the Titanic was by far a better experience than on most ships of the time. Many ships that carried steerage passengers were not passenger ships at all, but cargo ships that included humans. Many ships required steerage to supply and prepare their own food and bring their own bedding. Sleeping areas were often large cavernous areas offering no privacy.

The Titanic dazzled 3rd Class passengers with the privacy of cabins and spacious dining rooms that included a serving staff. Midday dinner was the main meal served on Sunday, and a version of the English savory tea was the last meal of the day. A light meal of cheese and biscuits and fresh fruit was offered late in the evening.

Each meal was hearty and offered several choices. The Sunday "Tea" included Ragout of Beef, potatoes and pickles, apricots, fresh bread and butter and currant buns. The Titanic offered Kosher meat for Jewish passengers. Many of the passengers lived far better aboard the Titanic than they did at home.


SparkleFarkle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SparkleFarkle said...

I beg your pardon?! You've got to be kidding, right?

Main Entry: ma·ca·bre
Pronunciation: \mə?-ˈ'käb; -ˈ'kä-brə?, -bə?r; -ˈ'käbrə?\
Function: adjective
Etymology: French, from (danse) macabre dance of death, from Middle French (danse de) Macabré
Date: 1889
1 : having death as a subject : comprising or including a personalized representation of death
2 : dwelling on the gruesome
3 : tending to produce horror in a beholder
4 : the ghastly feeling that chokeholds me when I hear about others re-enacting the 1500+ Titanic casualties' Last Supper for entertainment purposes!Seriously, is it just me?! I'm sorry, but I'm truly not getting this. At ALL.

SparkleFarkle said...

I think I've lost my appetite...

SparkleFarkle said...

I'm sure I'm not scoring any points here. My ship is *gulp!* sunk? *slips out the back, Jack, while the slippin's good*

Sparky ♥ ∞ said...

Good history lesson in action and the meal sounds delicious! Too bad you couldn't score a recipe from the chef for each entry. :o)

SparkleFarkle said...

*bobs up out of water one last time, index finger pointing skyward* This must be how Kathy Griffin feels all the time. Welcome to the D-List, SparkleFarkle... *folds finger and slips beneath the merky ocean blue*

Martha said...

They had a display of Titanic artifacts on the Queen Mary docked in Long Beach, CA. This tragedy captures the imagination not so much for the macabre for most folks, but the grace and acceptance of so many of the doomed passengers and crew.

MuseSwings said...

Martha, I have always been fascinated with the Titanic It's an amazing and very contained history lesson in class distinction,complacency,inaction, heroism, safety at sea, errors in judgement, training issues and how a simple things like a missing pair of binoculars,radio room schedules, steering knowledge, and water temperature can become part of a disasterous chain of events. Every ship that sails today is required to have a safety boat drill. That and many other safety requirements stem directly from lessons learned from the sinking of the Titanic.

Sparky - I think the cookbook is down below.

Sparkles - I could be mistaken, but I think I touched on a nerve here.

Martha said...

Thank you for sharing your interests. Some people like Egyptology, my dear Uncle is a World War II vet who still studies the battles and soldiers. I am fascinated with the Civil War and am lucky enough to own a table from that era that is very similar to the one that Lee signed the surrender papers at Appomattox.
Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it.

Martha said...

Interesting enough, the Lusitania which also sank around this time received very little notice. Some historians theorize it is because it sank much more quickly and the passengers were much less illustrious.
I love all history, even the one you and I are making right now, M.S.

Janeen said...

This was fun to read! I would love to enjoy a evening attending one of these parties! We'd make a memory as I always say. Makes me want to make a cup of tea. I'm so easy, like I need an excuse. ha ha

As for the other negative comments you've got here, I've seen a couple of my bloggy friends share that they have been it with junk spam of sorts, could be here too.

Renee said...

I will have the salmon and a filet and a cucumber. Sorry how much is tht? $372 doll hairs, is it okay if I barf it back onto my plate.

Love Renee xoxoxo

MuseSwings said...

Renee: Bwhahahaha!

Bibi said...

Years ago I returned to the US after a long stay in France aboard Le France. It was one of the ship's last voyages, and I will never forget seeing Lady Liberty rise on the horizon. I was in second class, but the food was MAGNIFICENT. I ate my way across the Atlantic.

Marie Reed said...

I think that this is just fascinating! Chateau potatoes were also on the Orient Express menu! I wonder how the heck they are cooked actually. I love you google!

Shellmo said...

I love history and always fascinated by the details of the Titanic. Interesting to hear about their menu (gosh that was a lot of food!!)

Eddy said...

Fantastic post and very intesting, the menu too ;)
But where is Kate Winslet (I love her... she's a great actress.)
Your post on this boat is very, very wonderful, I have a DVD on the discovery of the shipwreck.