From Film to Food
Dining Aboard the R.M.S. Titanic

~This article contains movie spoilers.~

In 1997, James Cameron's Titanic steamed into theatres with a popular frenzy, and like every other tween I knew, I quickly became obsessed. Fake heart of the ocean diamonds, "My Heart Will Go On" on repeat, books and magazines read and reread, the famous pose mimicked at the middle of playground slides... We were all smitten with the romantic artist and his feisty redhead. Ah, the beauty of young love.

Then the years passed, and the blockbuster film slipped into the dark recesses as the odd date night DVD and the occasional television special once every five years. It's been at least that long since I last viewed the film, and enticed by an upcoming Titanic exhibit and dining experience, I blew the dust off my DVD and again boarded in Southampton. 

And oh how the years have changed me. Jack, save your "I'm a free spirit blowing in the wind" nonsense. Hockley, don't be a douche. And Rose, get it together. I'd probably be frustrated, too, if I bought you a priceless diamond and all I got in return was a ten-cent drawing, or if you ruined my life's work and multi-million-dollar excavation by dropping that necklace. In fact, the only one that seems to have any sense at all is that crazy Italian, who unfortunately gets smushed by a chimney. WHERE IS YOUR DECENCY, PEOPLE?

On a happier note, after Sven and Olaf lost their tickets to Leo, they apparently moved back to Arendelle and made another chilly, blockbuster film with a catchy soundtrack. And we can only guess Lovett recouped a tiny fraction of his losses through the ticket sales for the Titanic exhibit I saw in Cape Town. "Woman dropped the diamond, but here's a nice teacup I found." Sad day. 

Profits and losses surrounding Titanic artefacts has been the subject of immense controversy for years. To some, Titanic is a hallowed memorial, to others a priceless research opportunity, to still others a chance to make bank. At present, all artefacts raised were projectiles flung from the ship during it's violent descent. They were picked from the seabed and are now protected by various international laws, the product of over a decade of legal battles. From my understanding, everything that remained inside the ship is as it was on 14 April 1912-- a sunken Pompeii hiding an eerie glimpse of cultural ancestry.

And it would be hard to deny the crew and passengers give life to the legend. At the exhibit, Mr Omar was a Chinese fireman-sailor who survived by hiding away at the bottom of a collapsible lifeboat. I was travelling to America to join an order of nuns and of course died. There were people whose legacies reach into our time, like the founder of Macy's and his wife who refused to be separated, and John Jacob Astor of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel ( did I not catch that?). 

There were stories that hinted at the terrible wars which followed, along with actions and oddities that give the disaster its intrigue. Why did no one heed the numerous ice warnings? How did the famous baker really ward off hypothermia? So many questions that may never have answers....So many stories told with copious amounts of dramatic flair by our tour guide. His detailed recount of the death of Andrews (it's better to hear for yourself) was tear-jerking. The whole affair was enough to have some guests begging for a smoke break before dinner. 

The question that had me guessing the most, however (along with what did people do when 7 million pieces of mail failed to be delivered), rang to the modern day. 

It was this: Were any of the passengers cruising for the fun of it as we do now, or was the Titanic simply an older version of the jetliner, broken into classes most people consider exorbitant? 

If its use did in fact mimic today's air travel, I probably would have found myself in third class. And, like the soon-to-be nun Miss Hanora Hegarty of ticket 365226, I probably would have ended up dead. Sad thing to contemplate. 

Thank goodness the wine, bottled specially for the exhibit, was fantastic, and the sleepy sharks that accompanied dinner were therapeutic. Somehow watching a stingray snore at the bottom of the aquarium's predator tank reminded me that much is still right and good with the world. (The violin, cello and other aquatic life also helped.) In fact, I couldn't have thought of a better place to try a meal inspired by Titanic's last.

Titanic: The Artefact Exhibition will be at the Watershed, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town from 22 November 2015 - 16 March 2016. Below is the actual Titanic menu that inspired the dinner.

 First Class Dinner Menu
R.M.S. Titanic        April 14, 1912

Hors D'Oeuvre Varies


Consomm√© Olga       Cream of Barley

Salmon       Mousselline Sauce       Cucumber

Filet Mignons Lili

Saute of Chicken Lyonnaise

Vegetable Marrow Farci

Lamb, Mint Sauce

Roast Duckling       Apple Sauce

Sirloin of Beef       Chateau Potatoes

Green Peas       Creamed Carrots

Boiled Rice

Parmentier and Boiled New Potatoes

Punch Romaine

Roast Squab & Cress

Red Burgundy

Cold Asparagus       Vinaigrette

Pate de Foie Gras


Waldorf Pudding

Peaches in Chartreuse Jelly

Chocolate and Vanilla Eclairs

French Ice Cream