On the evening of April 14, 1912 a number of first-class passengers on the Titanic revelled
in a privately hosted feast in the first-class á la carte restaurant. At the same time in the first-class dining saloon other first-class passengers - some who had paid the equivalent of $124,000 in today's dollars for the ocean voyage - settled in for a sumptuous
, if over-filling, ten-course extravaganza
. Meanwhile, in the second-class dining saloon, second-class passengers ate a less elaborate but beautifully served dinner. And third-class passengers ate simply prepared, hearty meals served in their own spartan dining saloon.
Several hours later, in the early morning of April 15th, the Titanic sank taking 1581 passengers and crew - many well fed and lubricated
- to their untimely deaths.
What is the fascination with "last meals"? Last meals of executed criminals are usually reported in the media: "For his last meal he ordered fried chicken, a Caesar salad and apple pie á la mode." None of these meals would appeal to the gourmet
but for some reason they hold our interest.
What sets the last meal on the Titanic apart? Is it that so many died, together, at one time, and that for the first-class passengers at least, their "last meals" were glorious feasts, brilliantly prepared and flawlessly served in an atmosphere of elegance and luxury - with death waiting in the wings? Or is it that the last meal provides a touchstone
to the sinking that is accessible to each of us in gustatory
terms we all understand? Or is it that the "last dinner" on the Titanic is simply a metaphor for seizing each moment as if it's the last.
There were only two menus recovered from the Titanic for the night of the 14th. One of these - the first-class menu - is reproduced below.
The First-Class Menu As served in the first-class dining saloon of the R.M.S. Titanic on April 14, 1912
First Course: Hors D'Oeuvres, Oysters
Second Course: Consommé Olga, Cream of Barley
Third Course: Poached Salmon with Mousseline Sauce, Cucumbers
Fourth Course: Filet Mignons Lili, Saute of Chicken, Lyonnaise, Vegetable Marrow Farci
Fifth Course: Lamb, Mint Sauce, Roast Duckling, Apple Sauce, Sirloin of Beef,
Chateau Potatoes, Green Pea, Creamed Carrots, Boiled Rice, Parmentier & Boiled New Potatoes
Sixth Course: Punch Romaine
Seventh Course: Roast Squab & Cress
Eighth Course: Cold Asparagus Vinaigrette
Ninth Course: Pate de Foie Gras, Celery
Tenth Course: Waldorf Pudding, Peaches in Chartreuse Jelly, Chocolate & Vanilla Eclairs, French Ice Cream