Life Issues – The Titanic – The Meals
With certain obvious limitations in the use of space, furnishings and electrical appliances created by the Titanic’s sea-faring nature, the ship’s capabilities as a luxury ship were restricted.
However, food on the Titanic was unrestrained in its glory. To dine on the Titanic was a true taste of luxury.
Like everything on the oceanliner, dining options were limited by a passenger’s class.
Those in first class had spent nearly $5,000 dollars on their tickets. That’s equivalent to $130,000 (or the cost of 5 years attendance at a prestigious university) for a 6-day cruise. Any way cut it, the first class passengers were spending the equivalent of several thousand dollars for each meal.
Naturally, they could expect finer meals than could the meagrely paying 3rd class travellers.
In keeping with the physical segregation of the classes, the Titanic was furnished with separate dining rooms for the three classes.
Before all meals, the ship’s bugler (yes, they had an official bugle-blower) would wander the ship decks, sounding the traditional White Star Line meal call, signalling that the passengers should make their ways to their respective dining rooms.
Third class passengers could look forward to a hearty, filling meal, that was typically better than the faire they ate at home. The quality of the food was not high; rather it was heavy, plain, energy-giving food suited to the working class. Common foods included porridge, potatoes, cold meats, and gruel. Mmmm….Gruel. (….Does anyone know what’s in gruel??)
Third class passengers ate a standard rule without exceptions, and were not given the kosher, vegan, etc. options that all classes can now expect on planes, trains and ships.
Although the third class meals fell miserably shy of the luxurious plates seen by higher class passengers, they were lucky to even be served on-board meals—only recently, the standard treatment of third class passengers did not include meal service.
Until the change, third class passengers were expected to bring their own food for their journey, a difficult task for voyages lasting several days, as the passengers did not have access to kitchens or even refrigerators. In such a situation, they would be forced to fill their tiny cabins to the brim with non-perishable foods, inviting the company of on-ship pests including insects and rats.
Unlike their predecessors at sea, third class passengers on the Titanic were treated to several meals, including Breakfast, Dinner (as in lunch), Afternoon Tea, and Supper.
Second Class passengers were fed a hearty three-course meal (with coffee to follow) of a much higher calibre than that served to the third class diners. They were given a choice between four main courses, and seven different desserts.
The second class dining room was situated on the same deck as that of the first class, and first and second class shared a kitchen. It is likely that second class passengers were offered some of the same dishes as the first class passengers, without all of the fancy decorations. Like the first class passengers, they ate at four mealtimes throughout the day.
First Class passengers tended to linger with cocktails in the reception room outside of their Dining Room before going in for the meal itself. They were then treated to a veritable feast at every meal. Suppers included over ten courses (with a diverse range of options), including a different wine served at each course. The meal was followed with fresh fruit and cheese, coffee, cigars, and port.
In addition to the gluttonous meals included in the ticket costs, first class passengers could choose to pay extra and dine in a more private restaurant with food made-to-order; or they could request in-room catering.
Among the many items collected after the sinking were several of the on-board menus. Below is the first class supper served the night that the Titanic sank, which as if you need this ghastly reminder) would have been the last supper of many of the people who ate it:
The First-Class Menu
As served in the first-class dining saloon of the R.M.S. Titanic on April 14, 1912
Cream of Barley
Poached Salmon with Mousseline Sauce, Cucumbers
Filet Mignons Lili
Saute of Chicken, Lyonnaise
Vegetable Marrow Farci
Lamb, Mint Sauce
Roast Duckling, Apple Sauce
Sirloin of Beef, Chateau Potatoes
Parmentier & Boiled New Potatoes
Roast Squab & Cress
Cold Asparagus Vinaigrette
Pate de Foie Gras
Peaches in Chartreuse Jelly
Chocolate & Vanilla Eclairs
French Ice Cream
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