It is fitting, then, that a new publication, “Titanic: The Cookbook: Recipes from the Era of the Great Ocean Liners,” has made its entrance via a Halifax-based publisher. The book presents ideas for great dinner parties as an homage to the cuisine of the era when the great ship went down in April 1912.
The cookbook has its roots in England. It was written by Yvonne Hume, whose great-uncle was the first violinist on the Titanic and perished that fateful night.
However, Halifax-based James Lorimer, publisher of Formac Ltd., approached two of his writers to adapt the recipes from the original book for the North American market.
“The British measurements were in weight, and of course in North America we work in metric and imperial,” says Virginia Lee, who with her sister Elaine Elliot mounted the project in Halifax to mark the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic.
“But there is also a slight difference in British ingredients and what their palate is like so we simply tweaked little things,” says Elliot. “A number of the recipes used lard and we would use vegetable oil instead, so it was a matter of looking for similar ingredients that are easily sourced in North American supermarkets.”
Hume had researched the menus and her book was set up to offer starters, main courses, side dishes, desserts and afternoon tea.
“It is typical of what you would expect to be served on an ocean liner of that era,” says Lee.
In their introduction, Lee and Elliot write that the menu would be planned to be served in first class, offering an array of the finest of foods, while second class and steerage (third class) would expect typical British fare such as lamb stew, cabin biscuits and rice pudding.
On its journey on the Atlantic, the Titanic stopped in Ireland to pick up lower-paying passengers fleeing the famine in that country, so it is believed they would be travelling in steerage.
“We looked at both second- and third-class menus and some of them were more extravagant,” says Lee. “It was wholesome and hearty and good food for the time.”
This elegant book has stunning colour photographs and includes suggestions for organizing an Edwardian-era dinner party. This includes period drinks and step-by-step instructions for proper napkin folding.
Recipes are included for everything from Oysters Findlay, Roast Lamb with Strawberry Mint Gravy and, for dessert, Chocolate Ganache Eclairs.
Lee says Nova Scotia is continuing to mark the disaster this summer with various exhibits as many of the passengers from the famous liner who died are buried in Halifax.
To learn more about activities surrounding the anniversary of the Titanic in Nova Scotia, visit www.titanic.gov.ns.ca.