Tuesday, April 14, 2009
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
Cream of Barley
Filet Mignons Lili
Saute of Chicken Lyonnaise
Vegetable Marrow Farci
Lamb with Mint Sauce
Roast Duckling with Applesauce
Sirloin of Beef
Parmentier of New Potatoes
Roasted Squab on Cress
Cold Asparagus Vinaigrette
Pate de Foi Gras
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.
Posted by MuseSwings at 4:38 PM