As the New Yorker recently and eloquently described it, the story of the Titanic is the "drama of a flawed and self-destructive hero, a protagonist of great achievements and overweening presumption."
The story that continues to capture - and haunt - the world's imagination again and again is being told in a new exhibition at the Australian National Maritime Museum. Remembering Titanic - 100 years commemorates the ocean disaster and the cultural obsession it spawned with everything from replica objects and memorabilia to newspaper clippings and nine costumes from James Cameron's Titanic, including those worn by Kate Winslet, Leonardo Dicaprio and Billy Zane.
Learn about the construction of the vessel, its unsung heroes, the controversy surrounding its rediscovery and the similarly 'unsinkable' Molly Brown.
The Museum will also be holding a raft of interactive activities, including a chance to dine in the style of Titanic passengers (pre-iceberg collision). Check out our interview below.
Ever wonder what the Titanic passengers ate as their last meal? Gastronomy lecturer Diana Noyce dishes it up:
“Caviar, lobster, quail from Egypt, plover eggs, and hothouse grapes and fresh peaches”; they may have been on a one-way trip to an icy end, but the travellers on the Titanic ate well.
Freelance food historian Diana Noyce has studied Charles Darwin’s passion for eating ‘strange flesh’ and the role food played in Scott’s doomed race to the South Pole, but for the National Maritime Museum’s latest exhibition, Noyce has turned her attention to the food served aboard the "unsinkable"ocean liner.
Part of the Museum's Remembering Titanic - 100 years exhibition, Noyce’s ‘Fateful Feasts’ is an opportunity to can learn about the food served on the Titanic and taste champagne and cheese similar to first-class fare.
“Few menus, and no wine lists, survived the tragedy,” says Noyce, “so I draw mainly from secondary sources such as Last Dinner on the Titanic by Dana McCauley, which presents menus based on fragments of evidence from surviving passengers, dishes that were popular at the time and the ship’s provisions.”
First-class passengers dined in the 11-course First Class Dining Saloon or at the on-board Ritz, which catered “to every aristocratic demand [with] Escoffier-inspired fare from Chef Pierre Rousseau, the Edwardian period’s answer to the celebrity chef.
“Second-class passengers enjoyed simpler, although still lavish, cuisine compared to what most of its middle-class clientele were used to. Curried chicken and rice would be one course, followed by plum pudding, cheese and coffee. And third-class dining was comprised of Irish stew, stewed apricots and currant buns, as well as the obligatory tea. If anything, the food on the Titanic was better than what they were used to.”
So with such a range of delicacies on offer, what would be the ultimate ‘last meal aboard the Titanic’?
“Poached salmon with mousseline sauce garnished with cucumber, and the roast duckling with apple sauce, followed by a creamy vanilla Waldorf pudding flavoured with a hint of nutmeg, diced apples and sultana grapes.” And, we can assume, definitely no iceberg lettuce.