No matter what topic you examine regarding Titanic, the facts and figures and tragedy are astounding. Just feeding the passengers and crew required the ship to carry tons of meat, produce, dairy, eggs and drinks, plus well over 100,000 pieces of crockery, pots, pans and glassware to cook and serve the food in. One of the most riveting scenes in any movie version of the sinking involves plates cascading off the shelves as the ship lists, or loaves of freshly baked bread plunging to the deck as the vessel founders by the head.
Just think about cooking breakfast daily for some 2200 people! When the ship sailed, the larder held 7500 lbs of ham and bacon, 40,000 fresh eggs, 6000 lbs of butter, 1120 lbs of marmalade and jam, 13,000 lbs of oranges, 10,000 lbs of cereal, 2200 lbs of coffee, 800 lbs of tea. Well, you get the idea!
The designers of the ship had used the famous Ritz hotel as a benchmark and were consciously trying to create a feeling for the passengers of being in a floating first class hotel rather than on board a ship. The Titanic boasted a number of restaurants, including the A La Carte and the Café Parisien (the best of French cuisine served there) for First Class passengers. The chefs and staff of these restaurants were contractors, not employees of the White Star Line and all were lost in the sinking. There was also a First and a Second Class Dining Saloon on Deck D. The Third Class Dining Saloon was on Deck F. No French cuisine there – the fare has been described as plentiful and hearty.
A special dinner was hosted for the First Class passengers on the night of April 14, 1912 in the Café Parisien, among the trellises and vines comprising the elegant décor. Little did they know it was their last meal on board the ship, a final dinner for many. Ten courses were served, each with its own special wine. There are books discussing the meals and the menus on Titanic – here’s a list of just the desserts completing that last First Class dinner: Waldorf Pudding, Peaches in Chartreuse Jelly, Chocolate & Vanilla Eclairs or French Ice Cream. Cheeses and fresh fruit were also served.
A few years ago there was an offering of reproduction china and I treated myself to a blue and gold demitasse cup from the Captain’s table; the Second Class tea cup (my grandfather’s distant relative was in Second Class – I like to imagine her sitting and drinking tea from just such a cup before the fateful night) and a heavy white coffee mug that would have been used in either Steerage or the officers’ mess.
What would you want on the menu for your last meal? I think I’d go straight to dessert and have something very chocolate-y!