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Food Facts and Figures from RMS Titanic
The RMS Titanic sank on April 14th, 1912, only four days into her maiden voyage. More than 100 years later and we are still curious—not about just how such an appalling accident could have happened, but also what life was like aboard the ship, and in particular, what the passengers ate.
There were three classes of travel aboard: First, Second, and Third class, also known as Steerage. The cost of traveling varied, with a First Class ticket around $150 (but went as high as $4000), Second, just over... $60, and Third, between $15 and $40. It is no wonder the standards of each class were so varied.
With 2,229 passengers and crew on board when the ship set sail, and with menus of such varying styles of food, the provisions required for the voyage was enormous—thousands of pounds of meat, vegetables, fruit, and flour, thousands of bottles of alcohol, and 14,000 gallons of freshwater were needed.
Despite the Titanic being a British ship, foods served in First class had more of a continental flavor as was the fashion for food at the time. In Second and Steerage foods would have been less pretentious and more like the simple British and Irish food served at home.Continue to 2 of 3 below.
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How Each Class Ate
Three classes of travel on the Titanic meant three different menus had to be served daily. Passengers in First class were by far the best fed—they received the most sophisticated dishes served in quite formal settings. They had paid handsomely for this privilege with their ticket costing eight times more than Second and over 25 times more than Third. As was the fashion in upper-class circles in Victorian times, the food was predominantly French in style, but some of the great British stalwarts... like roast sirloin beef still held their own on the menu.
There was an abundance of choice at breakfast, and at dinner, there were as many as ten courses served.
Food was closer to home in Second class. French rarely appeared with the preference for traditional British food. Curried chicken, baked fish, spring lamb, mutton, and roast turkey were common menu items, as was a pudding for dessert. (The night the Titanic sank, the doomed second class passengers actually tucked into plum pudding, what is now known as Christmas pudding.)
Food served to passengers in Third class was simply scaled down versions of what was made for Second class. Passengers in steerage had little to complain about, as for many, this food was better than what they had been used to.
One thing that was quite different was that Third class passengers were not served a dinner, but instead would partake in high tea, a custom which still exists today. Tea, as it is known colloquially, would always include a hot course requiring a knife and fork—Irish Stew was mentioned frequently on the menu. Sadly, there are no Third class surviving menus from the night the Titanic sank, so we have no idea what those passengers ate.Continue to 3 of 3 below.
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First Class Menu the Night the Titanic Sank
The RMS Titanic collided with the fateful iceberg at 11:40 p.m., long after dinner had been served. From salvaged artifacts from the sunken ship and company records, many menus were found giving a clear picture of what had been served on the ship. Of most interest are the menus from the evening of April 14th showing the food served to the doomed passengers.
RMS Titanic First Class Dinner Menu, April 14, 1912
Oysters, consomme Olga, cream of barley
Salmon, mousseline sauce,... cucumber
Main Courses and Vegetables
Filet mignons Lili
Saute 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 or boiled new potatoes
Roast squab and cress
Cold asparagus vinaigrette
Pate de foie gras
Peaches in chartreuse jelly
Chocolate vanilla eclairs
French ice cream