If you happened to read my "About" page, you would've read that I am a serious "Titanic buff", and lover of history! I'm sure many of you know the story, but, since this is a website on all things food, let's talk about how the passengers dined on the ship, which will also give you a glimpse of what the "Edwardian era" was like.
The Titanic was obviously very well designed and well thought out- down to every detail, (except appropriate number of life boats that is!) It was hailed as the "Ship of Dreams" for a reason: this ship was the largest, most innovative, and most luxuriously designed for it's time. For an idea of the supplies that the kitchen staff ordered ahead of time, click here http://www.titanicfacts.net/food-on-the-titanic.html . Truly astounding!! A week prior to it's departure from Southampton Harbor, the 60+ chefs and assistants began taking on the massive provisions to prepare for the week at sea. The massive kitchens on board the Titanic, produced over 6,000 meals per day! The largest kitchen primarily served the 1st and 2nd class passengers, and was divided into these separate areas: bakery, storage for all of the silver and china, vegetable kitchen, butchery, serving pantries, coal storage, wine/beer storage, and storage area for oysters.
Much of the menu items on the ship were largely influenced by Irish, English, and French cuisine- specifically the acclaimed French chef, Auguste Escoffier. Because there were roughly 100 Jewish passengers aboard, (including Isidor & Ida Straus- owners of the infamous Macy's), the chefs had to make sure that they had "Kosher" foods available as well.
If you view the menus above, you'll note the vast difference between the 1st class and 3rd class menus. Things were very different in 1912. The "classes" of passengers were very segregated, and each had their own areas of the ship that they were allowed to use- and that included the dining facilities! If you were 1st class, you would've spent about $5,000/ ticket in 1912. They had several options for dining, and the meals were not just phenomenal, but extremely plentiful and elegant. Dinners consisted of a whopping 10 -11 courses- along with accompanying wines/spirits, in which the "dining experience" would last for hours! 2nd class was still high quality, but more scaled back consisting of 1 main dining hall, and dinners consisting of only 3 courses, but with options to choose from. The menus aboard the Titanic for both 1st and 2nd class were so sophisticated- even by today's standards in fine dining! Then, you had 3rd class (steerage): they also had 1 main dining hall, but their food was much more plain and "hearty"- more suited for those of the "working class". Many of the foods served included "gruel", breads & cold meats, cabin biscuits, potatoes, etc. For the time, they were fed and treated far better than previous ships and liners would treat the immigrants, and they had far better food and accommodations on board than they had at home! (Prior to the Titanic, 3rd class passengers were expected to bring their own food on board- and these were days before refrigerators!!)
It is interesting to note that prior to the serving of all meals on the ship, a bugler, (the "White Star Line" had an official bugle blower- Peter W. Fletcher), would go to the varying decks to play the traditional "The Roast Beef of Old England", which signaled passengers to go to their appropriate dining areas. (Remember, there was no intercoms or loud speakers in those days!)
The Titanic and White Star Line, set the incredible dining standards that people of ALL CLASSES and walks of life in todays society enjoy when they vacation on cruise ships! And, due to this incredible tragedy, it is important to note that there were many boating/ ocean liner regulations and laws passed to prevent such a catastrophic event from occurring again.