Friday, April 14, 2017

A Titanic Dinner . . .

In our Family Museum is a cookbook. Not your ordinary cookbook, but a Titanic Cookbook!  Last Dinner on the Titanic: menus and recipes from the legendary liner. Text by Rick Archbold, recipes by Dana McCauley, published in 1997 by the Madison Press Limited.

So why is this cookbook in our museum? Because it contains more than recipes, it holds special memories of an exceptional time that our family spent together on April 4, 1998. The four of us attended a gala white-tie dinner in the Huntington Room at the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News. VA.
When the museum director discovered the new cookbook, she planned the museum party, following every detail and invited authors Rick Archbold and Dana McCauley to attend the event and mingle with the guests and answer questions about the food and social climate aboard the ship. And boy, did Charlie have questions. He even got his picture in the newspaper.

Charlie has been hooked on the Titanic since he was 8 years old. His fascination grew as he did and we all became enmeshed with his enthrallment. Over the next twenty-two years and still counting, we saw the ship go down many times: 4 stage plays – in New York, in Belfast, Ireland, in Washington, DC and in Virginia Beach, VA.
We went to many Titanic exhibits at museums and Charlie has a sizeable collection of Titanic memorabilia. And the movie. We were riveted to our seats and not a dry eye in the audience was had. As soon as the video (VHS) came out, we had to get it and watch it again. Charlie also loves the original 1958 movie A Night to Remember.
In 2008, Charlie had the privilege of being a Titanic Dramaturge (Historian) for the VA Beach production. At the time, Charlie was in musical theatre and auditioned for the play. He didn’t get the part but the director, Brian Marshall, was so impressed with Charlie’s Titanic knowledge that he asked him to come aboard and assist the cast. He even got billing in the theatre’s Stage Notes. We had the poster framed and on the back of it are autographs to Charlie from the cast.
Today is the 105th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic and in honor of the legendary event, and in memory of all those who perished, I am preparing, by request from Charlie, to make one of the meals that was served on that last night. Of the 50 recipes that are in the book, we agreed on the Roast Sirloin of Beef Forestière. The preparation of the steak seems easy enough, but the Sauce Forestière will take a bit more work.

So wish me luck and if you are looking for a cookbook filled with more than menus; this one offers fascinating descriptions and anecdotes, archival photographs and memorabilia, and a host of evocative period paintings and illustrations, along with ideas for hosting a Titanic Dinner, sending the invitations, setting the mood, and decorating the table (even illustrations on proper napkin folding), as well as choosing the wines. This is the book for anyone who is fascinated with the Titanic and some great recipes, too. Enjoy!  

P.S. In a future post, I will tell you how our Titanic dinner went with pictures.