May it Please the Palate- A Titanic Meal

101 years ago--on April 14, 1912, to be precise--the passengers on the Titanic enjoyed a meal that was, unbeknownst to them, their last on that ship. For 1581 of them, it was their final meal on this earth. Mrs. Walter Douglas, a survivor and first-class passenger, recounted, ''We dined the last night in the Ritz restaurant. It was the last word in luxury. The tables were gay with pink roses and white daisies, the women in their beautiful shimmering gowns of satin and silk, the men immaculate and well groomed, the stringed orchestra playing music from Puccini and Tchaikovsky. The food was superb: caviar, lobster, quail from Egypt, plover's eggs, and hothouse grapes and fresh peaches. The night was cold and clear, the sea like glass.'' (www.delish. com)

The Titanic's actual dinner was an 11 course meal, each accompanied by a different wine:

First Course ~ Hors d'Oeuvre

Canapes a l'Amiral

Oysters a la Russe

Second Course ~ Soups

Consomme Olga

Cream of Barley Soup

Third Course ~ Fish

Poached Salmon with Mousseline Sauce

Fourth Course ~ 1st Entree

Filet Mignons Lili

Chicken Lyonnaise

Vegetable Marrow Farci

Fifth Course ~ 2nd Entree

Lamb With Mint Sauce

Calvados~Glazed Roast Duck with Applesauce

Roast Sirloin of Beef Forestiere

Chateau Potatoes

Minted Green Pea Timbales

Creamed Carrots

Sixth Course ~ Punch

Punch Romaine

Seventh Course ~ Roast

Roast Squab & Wilted Cress

Eighth Course ~ Salad

Asparagus Salad with Champagne Saffron Vinaigrette

Ninth Course ~ Cold Dish

Pate de Foie Gras

Tenth Course ~ Sweets

Waldorf Pudding

Peaches in Chartreuse Jelly

Chocolate Painted Eclairs with French Vanilla Cream

Eleventh Course ~ Dessert

Assorted Fresh Fruits and Cheeses

After Dinner

Coffee, Cigars, Port

The actual recipes are unknown, but Rick Archibald and Dana McCauley's 1997 book, Last Dinner on the Titanic, contains meticulous research from the period and other White Star cruises. For those too cheap to buy the book (like myself), the recipes are reproduced on the blog www.thedragons kitchen. com with easy to follow steps and photographs. These recipes are so complex that even one choice from one course --such as the chocolate éclairs with vanilla crème--look like an all day project.

The Titanic's last dinner is the subject of many tribute dinner parties. One such event is held annually at the Stafford's Perry Hotel in Petoskey - this year on April 13. I happened to be staying at the hotel for depositions in the days prior. The hotel really does this event right, although with a more modest five-course version. Staff dresses in period pieces; a local historian makes a presentation; and artifacts from the actual luxury liner will be on display.

I thought of the last meal on the Titanic in contrast to the recent Carnival cruise stranded in the Gulf of Mexico, that inconvenienced its stranded passengers with meals such as onion sandwiches and "condiment" burgers. Fortunately, these folks lived to tell the tale--unlike the lost souls on the Titanic --who are reverentially honored with the Stafford's Perry annual dinner. Wish I were here for that, and not another deposition!

Nick Roumel is a principal with Nacht, Roumel, Salvatore, Blanchard, and Walker PC, a firm in Ann Arbor specializing in employment and civil right litigation. He also has many years of varied restaurant and catering experience, has taught Greek cooking classes, and writes a food/restaurant column for "Current" magazine in Ann Arbor. He occasionally updates his blog at http://mayitpleasethepalate.blogspot.com/.

Published: Mon, Apr 15, 2013

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