Book Review: Last Dinner on the Titanic

"I well remember that last meal on the Titanic.We had a big vase of beautiful daffodils on the table, as fresh as if they had just been picked.  Everybody was gay, and people were making bets on the probable time of this record-breaking voyage." 
                                                             --First-class passenger Lady Duff-Gordon

I have owned this book for about ten years now, and still smile when I dust it off.  As my experience with cooking grows, I find that different parts of it speak to me.  This time around, I've pulled it off the shelf for a very exciting reason:  my local Steampunk group, The Innovative Society of Victorian Irregulars, has decided to do a Titanic dinner as our big spring event next April.  With good reason, too.  The evening of Saturday, April 14th, 2012 will mark the 100 year anniversary of the last meal served on the Titanic, which met it's infamous demise at 2:20 am on April 15th, 1912. 

Prints available from
If you have an interest in Edwardian food, this book has it all.  It very clearly states when it knows a particular dish was served (and when their choice is educated guesswork), and the directions are precise.  Menus are included for the A La Carte restaurant, the First Class Dining room, Second Class, and Third Class (which,  with a lunch menu of vegetable soup, roast pork with sage and pearl onions, green peas, boiled potatoes, plum pudding, and oranges, ate better then the average American household).

From the Titanic Historical Society site.
The other joy of this book is the plethora of pictures, notes, music suggestions, and copies of actual bills of fare, baggage claim tickets, etc. from the Titanic or it's sister ship, the Olympic. 

If planning a party, the Appendix is singularly useful, including advice on Edwardian customs,  proper invitation ettiquete, what to wear, and table settings.  There is also a fascinating grouping of mini-biographies, allowing you to assign guests the persona of a specific guest if so desired.

RMS Titanic First Class Dinner Menu
April 14, 1912

Hors D'oeuvre Varies

Consomme Olga

Cream of Barley

Salmon, Mousseline Sauce, Cucumber

Filet Mignons Lili
Saute of Chicken, Lyonnaise
Vegetable Marrow Farcie

Lamb, Mint Sauce
Roast Duckling, Apple Sauce
Sirloin of Beef, Chateau Potatoes

Green Peas

Creamed Carrots
Boiled Rice
Parmentier & Boiled New Potatoes

Punch Romaine

Roast Squab and Cress
Cold Asparagus Vinaigrette
Pate De Foie Gras

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

This, of course, was followed by fruit and cheese, as well as cigars in the smoking room for the gentlemen (whew!).  Obviously, a shortened version is sufficient for most groups...

Something else to keep in mind is that part of what was considered impressive about the Titanic was that it was state of the art for the era.  In the kitchens, massive refrigeration unites, ovens, and stoves meant that cooks were capable of pulling off all of the same tricks as the finest restaurants of the day.  What a thrilling thought for the technophile!

While I would suggest getting the book, due to the plethora of additional useful information, recipes can be previewed at these sites:

La Belle Cuisine

Eras of Elegance

The Titanic guide by Donna Pilato

And for a very interesting provisions list, go here (the scale of it is boggling).


~~louise~~ said...

Oh Jesse, I LOVE this post!!! Many years ago when I first had a website on AOL, I posted the menu for the Titanic from assorted sources. I had forgotten I was in search of this book until you just mentioned it. I must put it to the top of my list of books to find. (I of course want the original although I may have to "settle."

How wonderful that you and others are going to pay tribute. I've bookmarked this post but if for some reason I should forget, please remind me.

Thank you so much for sharing...

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