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Last Dinner on the Titanic


“The pleasures of the table are common to all ages and ranks, to
all countries and times: they not only harmonize with all the
other pleasures, but remain to console us for their loss.”
~ Anthèlme de Brillat-Savarin


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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 re-
vealing 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


The First-Class Dining Saloon

“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...


Oysters à la Russe

“Oysters must have formed part of many a first-class meal, given that the
Titanic carried 1,221 quarts of them when it left Southampton. The recipe
we’ve chosen, oysters à la Russe, presumably takes its name from the addi-
tion of vodka to a piquant relish. But if you’re a stickler for accuracy, serve
them raw and unadorned on the half shell, which is likely how they were
served on the last night.”

2 tbsp vodka
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp prepared horseradish
Dash hot pepper sauce
Pinch each granulated sugar and salt
1 plum tomato, seeded and finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped chives
12 large oysters
Coarsely cracked black peppercorns

In bowl, stir together vodka, lemon juice, horseradish, hot pepper sauce, sugar and salt. Gently stir in tomato and chives.
Wash oysters under running water to remove any loose barnacles or sand. Insert tip of oyster shucker between shell halves near hinge; twist upward
to open shell. Using blade of shucker, sever connective membrane that
holds oyster to bottom shell. Place open oysters on bed of shaved or
crushed ice.
Spoon vodka relish over each oyster; dust with cracked pepper.
Makes 6 servings.


“Inside this floating palace that spring evening in 1912, warmth and lights,
the hum of voices, the gay lilt of a German waltz – the unheeding sounds
of a small world bent on pleasure.”
~ First-class passenger Lady Duff-Gordon


Consommé Olga

“A woman named Olga may have inspired an actual chef; more likely hers
was a generic Russian name used to indicate that this dish has a Russian
flavor. The ingredient that originally distinguished this soup from ordinary
beef consommé was vésiga, the dried spinal marrow of a sturgeon. However,
vésiga is very difficult to find today, even at the best gourmet shops. On the
Titanic, it would have been soaked in water for up to five hours, boiled in
bouillon for another three until it resembled gelatin, then sliced and floated
in the piping hot consommé. We have substituted sea scallops, which are
similar in texture and considerably more flavorful.”

7 cups degreased veal or beef stock
1 each carrot, leek, and celery stalk, finely chopped
1/2 tomato, chopped
1 tbsp chopped parsley stems
1/4 lb lean ground veal or beef
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
3 egg whites, beaten until frothy
1/4 cup Port

6 large sea scallops
1/2 celeriac bulb or head of celery, blanched and julienned
1/4 English cucumber, seeded and julienned

In tall narrow pot, gently heat stock until body temperature. Meanwhile,
in a large bowl, stir together vegetables, parsley, and meat until well
combined; add salt and pepper; fold in egg whites.
Whisk heat stock into egg mixture; return to pot and, whisking, bring
slowly to boil. When mixture begins to look frothy, stop stirring to allow
egg mixture to rise and solidify into a raft. Lower heat to medium-low.
Carefully make a vent hole in raft with spoon handle. Simmer the
consommé gently for 30 minutes.
Leaving pot on heat, carefully push raft down with back of ladle; ladle clarified consommé through cheesecloth-lined sieve into clean pot. Heat
until very hot. Stir in Port.
  Slice scallops crosswise into 3 pieces, place 3 discs into bottom
of each of 6 warmed bowls. Pour hot consommé over scallops; arrange
celeriac and cucumber decoratively in each bowl. Serve immediately.
Makes 6 servings.


“I had seen the cooks before their great cauldrons of porcelain, and the bakers turning out the huge loaves of bread, a hamper of which was later brought
on deck, to supply the lifeboats.”

~ First-class passenger Marie G. Young


Filets Mignons Lili

"If you are looking for a dish that epitomizes the excess of the Edwardian era,
look no further: a filet mignon accompanied by a buttery wine sauce, topped
with a piece of foie gras and a truffle, and set on a bed of buttery Potatoes Anna.
(If you are serving all eleven courses, it would probably be wise to save this for another occasion.) Most specialty butchers will be able to provide you with foie
gras if you give them advance notice. Truffles are even more precious, which is
why we’ve made them optional in our version of the recipe."

6 filets mignons (2 1/2 pounds)
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
1 tbsp each butter and vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced
6 foie gras (goose liver) medallions
6 cooked artichoke hearts, quartered
6 slices black truffle (optional)

2 tbsp butter
3 large shallots or 1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1/2 cup each Cognac, Madeira, and red wine
2 cups homemade beef stock
Salt and pepper

Potatoes Anna
3/4 cup melted unsalted butter
6 medium baking potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced
1 tsp each salt and pepper

Sauce:  In [preferably nonreactive] saucepan, melt 1 tbsp of the butter
over medium heat; add shallots and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or
until softened. Stir in tomato paste, bay leaf, and rosemary until well combined. Stir in Cognac, Madeira, and red wine; bring to boil. Boil for
10 minutes or until reduced to about 1/2 cup. Stir in beef stock. Boil for
15 minutes or until reduced to about 1 cup. Strain into clean pot set over
low heat and whisk in remaining butter. Season to taste. Keep warm.
Potatoes Anna:
  Brush 11-inch oven-proof skillet with enough melted
butter to coat. Arrange potatoes to overlapping circles, brushing each
layer with enough butter to coat; sprinkle each layer with some of the
salt and pepper; press top layer gently down. Place pan over medium-
high heat for about 10 minutes or until bottom is browned. Cover and
bake in 450-degree F oven for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender
and lightly browned on top. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes or until brown and
crisp. Let stand 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, sprinkle meat with salt and pepper. In large skillet, melt
butter with vegetable oil over medium heat; add garlic and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes; increase heat to medium-high and add filets mignons. Cook, turning once, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until well browned but still
pink in middle. Remove from pan and set stand, tented with foil, for about
5 minutes. Wipe out pan and return to high heat. Add foie gras and cook
for 30 seconds per side or until golden brown. Remove from pan and
reserve. Gently toss artichokes in pan juices and cook for 2 minutes or
until heated through.
Cut cooked potato round into 6 portions and place 1 piece, upside down,
on each of 6 heated plates; top with a filet mignon, followed by a slice of
foie gras, and a truffle slice (if using). Ladle sauce around edge of plate; garnish with artichokes. Makes 6 servings.

Tips: Because this sauce is a reduction, the beef stock must be homemade
if the sauce is to thicken properly.
It is better to use two skillets to cook the meat rather than to crowd
the filets.

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