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Last Dinner on the Titanic, continued...


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~ Anthèlme de Brillat-Savarin


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This month, in honor of the 90th anniversary of the sinking of the
Titanic (April 14, 1912), we are featuring

Last Dinner on the Titanic: Menus and Recipes from the Legendary Liner
Last Dinner on the Titanic:
Menus and Recipes from the Legendary Liner

by Rick Archbold ~ Recipes by Dana McCauley, 1997, Hyperion/The Madison Press Limited
Foreword by Walter Lord, author of A Night to Remember


[From the foreword, by Walter Lord:]
“…The Titanic is enthralling because she was not just a ship; she was a symbol…
Then, as now, the Titanic story appealed to people on many different levels:
the romance of the great age of ocean travel; the fascination of the ultimate shipwreck; the enticement of endless trivia. Above all, the Titanic entrances
me as a social historian. Her enduring allure surely has as much to do with
the world she represented as with the dramatic story she has to tell. She pro-
vides an exquisite microcosm of the Edwardian world, illuminating its strict
class distinctions, its obsession with etiquette and fashion, and, inevitably,
its love of fine food.
…Reproducing the Titanic’s marvelous food is surely one of the best ways to experience a bygone age of luxury and leisure. Thanks to the testimony of eyewitnesses and the survival of several actual menus – including the final
dinner in both first and second class – what the Titanic’s passengers ate can
be re-created to a remarkable degree of authenticity. Through the most revealing
of social customs, the preparation and consumption of food, ‘Last Dinner on the Titanic’ provides a wonderful window into the social life of an Edwardian age steaming unwittingly toward oblivion…”


“There was not the slightest thought of danger in the minds of those who sat around the tables in the luxurious dining saloon of the Titanic. It was a
brilliant crowd. Jewels flashed form the gowns of the women. And, oh, the
dear women, how fondly they wore their latest Parisian gowns! It was the
first time that most of them had an opportunity to display their newly
acquired finery.”
~ First-class passenger Mrs. Jacques Futrelle


“Of the two menus that survive from the night of April 14, 1912, one comes from
the first-class dining saloon. It is therefore possible to re-create in its entirety the sumptuous meal enjoyed by some of the ship’s most renowned passengers – John Jacob Astor, Benjamin Guggenheim, Isidor and Ida Straus, the Unsinkable Molly Brown, et al. Although the menu does not label each course, it is clearly based on the classic, many-coursed meal that had evolved in France in the nineteenth century, and which Auguste Escoffier had refined and somewhat simplified. [!]

The master, however, would indubitably been appalled by some of the elements
in this menu. For instance, he would never have begun a meal with hors d’oeuvre varies, a discordant cacophony of bite-size bits, usually served from a trolley, and including various pickled items whose astringent flavors only clash with the
dishes to come. The raw oysters, on the other hand, made the ideal beginning to such a meal. Furthermore, at the Ritz, no meat would ever have been presented without an individual garnish appropriate to its character. Here the removes
course has veered perilously close to the meat, potato, and vegetable main dish
of a more middle-class dinner. Undoubtedly, these slight vulgarizations reflect
the less-educated palates of the Titanic’s predominantly Anglo-American
clientele. But despite such cavils, the final meal in first class was a splendid
and overabundant feast…”


Actual First-Class Menu

R.M.S. “Titanic”
April 14, 1912

Hors d’Oeuvre Variés
Consommé Olga
Cream of Barley
Salmon, Mousseline Sauce, Cucumber
Filet Mignons Lili
Sauté 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 and Boiled New Potatoes
Punch Romaine
Roast Squab and Cress
Cold Asparagus Vinaigrette
Pâté de Foie Gras
Waldorf Pudding
Peaches in Chartreuse Jelly
Chocolate & Vanilla Éclairs
French Ice Cream

“After dessert, the stewards offered coffee, which in France had been a standard after-dinner beverage since about 1860. On board the Titanic, coffee was probably made by a drip process, although the much stronger Turkish coffee may well have been available in first class. Either way, coffee was typically accompanied by cigars, Port, and liqueurs, then called “cordials”. Often the liqueur was poured straight into the coffee, which meant the cups were served only three-quarters full.”

As much as we would enjoy presenting each and every recipe from the first-class menu, time and space prohibit that indulgence.  Our compromise, then, is to titillate you with a small selection and leave it to you to treat yourself to this excellent cookbook for the rest of the story...


Chicken Lyonnaise

 “Unlike the entrée on a modern restaurant menu, the classic entrée is a
small portion of a very choice dish, a chance for the kitchen to really
strut its stuff…
 This is one of the most delicious items on the first-class dinner menu. The
sauce is from Lyons, considered by many to be the gastronomic capital of
France, and employs two foods for which the area is renowned – onions
from the Rhone Valley and poultry from Bresse.”

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme (or 1 tbsp dried)
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
6 boneless chicken breasts
1 egg, beaten
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
2 tsp tomato paste
Pinch granulated sugar

In sturdy plastic bag, shake together flour, 1 tbsp of the thyme (or 1 1/2
tsp if using dried), salt, and pepper. One at a time, dip chicken breasts
into egg, and then shake in flour mixture.
In large deep skillet, heat 2 tbsp of the vegetable oil over medium-high
heat. Place chicken in pan, skin side down. Cook, turning once, for 10
minutes or until golden brown. Remove from skillet and place in 225-
degree F oven.
Reduce heat to medium; add remaining oil to skillet. Stir in onions, garlic,
and remaining thyme; cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Increase heat to medium-high and continue to cook onions, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until golden brown.
Add wine to pan; cook, stirring to scrape up any brown bits, for about 1 minute of until reduced by half. Stir in stock, tomato paste, and sugar.
Boil for 2 minutes or until beginning to thicken. Return chicken to pan,
turning to coat, and cook for 5 minutes or until juices from chicken run
clear. Makes 6 servings.


Creamed Carrots

“The standard in Edwardian times was to cook vegetables until soft. Here,
as a concession to modern tastes, we recommend cooking the carrots until
easily pierced by a fork.”

8 or 9 medium carrots, julienned
1 cinnamon stick (or 1 tsp ground cinnamon)
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Pinch pepper
1 tsp lemon juice
1/3 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh chives

Place carrots in medium pan with enough water to cover; add cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-high, and cook for 6 to 8 minutes or until carrots are fork-tender. Drain, remove cinnamon stick,
and return carrots to pan. Add butter, salt, ground cinnamon, nutmeg,
and pepper; mix well. Add lemon juice and cream; boil for 1 minute or
until cream is slightly thickened.
Adjust seasoning if necessary. Turn into shallow serving bowl; sprinkle
with chives and serve. Makes 6 servings.


Punch Romaine

“Escoffier popularized this form of alcoholic ice as a palate cleanser. Like a
modern sorbet, it would have been served in dessert cups and eaten with a spoon.”

6 cups crushed ice
1 cup Simple Syrup *
2 cups Champagne or sparkling wine
1 cup white wine
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp white rum [preferably stored in freezer, so that it will
not melt the ice] (optional)
Orange peel [zest] , slivered

In blender, combine crushed ice, simple syrup, Champagne, white
wine, orange juice, and lemon juice. Blend until well combined.
Spoon mixture into individual dessert cups; drizzle with white rum (if
using) and garnish with a sliver of orange peel. Serve immediately.
Makes 8 servings.

* Simple Syrup

In large pot, combine 2 cups granulated sugar and 1 cup water; cook over medium heat, stirring gently, until sugar is completely dissolved. Bring to boil and cook for 1 minute or until syrup is clear. Let cool. (Syrup can be stored in a sterilized container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.) Makes 1 cup.


Peaches in Chartreuse Jelly

“Mrs. Beeton, the mother of British cuisine, popularized jelly desserts, which,
before the advent of instant gelatin, were time-consuming and labor-intensive.
Serving a jelly to guests meant that the meal was a special one. This recipe
combines the sweetness of peaches poached in sugar syrup with the potent
herbal essences of Chartreuse liqueur.”

3 large clingstone peaches
4 cups water
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves
Fresh lemon balm leaves or edible flowers

Chartreuse Jelly
5 tsp powdered gelatin
2 cups water
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup Chartreuse

Chartreuse Jelly:  In small bowl, soften gelatin in 1 cup of the water.
In pot, bring remaining water to boil. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved.
Remove from heat; add Chartreuse and stir to combine. Pour in softened gelatin, stirring constantly until dissolved.  Pour gelatin mixture into 9-
by 13-inch glass baking dish lined with waxed paper; refrigerate for 2
hours or until completely set. (If making ahead, cover jelly at this point.)
Meanwhile, immerse peaches in large pot of boiling water for 30 seconds; remove and immediately plunge into cold water. Slip off skins; halve and gently remove stones.
In large pot, combine water and sugar; cook over medium heat, stirring gently, until sugar is dissolved. Bring to boil and cook for 1 minute or
until syrup is clear. Add lemon juice, cinnamon stick, and cloves.
Add prepared peaches to hot syrup. Cut a circle of parchment paper
slightly smaller than pot; place over top of peaches to ensure they remain immersed during cooking (alternatively, use lid from smaller pot to keep
fruit submerged).
Bring syrup just to the boil; reduce heat to medium-low and poach peaches gently for 6 minutes or just until soft enough to be easily cut with a spoon. Let cool in syrup. May be stored in syrup in refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
To serve, turn jelly out onto cutting board. Carefully remove waxed paper and roughly chop two-thirds of jelly with knife or edge of large spoon.
Divide broken jelly among 6 dessert plates. Using knife or cookie cutter,
cut remaining third of jelly into decorative shapes. Using spatula, carefully arrange shapes around outer edge of each bed of jelly.
Slice peaches from one end almost to the other; fan out on bed of jelly. Garnish with lemon balm leaves or edible flowers. Makes 6 servings.

Last Dinner on the Titanic, page 1

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