Tuesday, May 13, 2014

That Time I Made Recipes from the Titanic Menus

Like every other girl from age 12 to 20, I spent the winter of 1997 pining over Jack Dawson and desperately wishing I’d been able to sail on the Titanic (minus the whole iceberg thing). I was into everything Titanic that year—the real passengers, the construction of the ship, the food, the fashion—if it was titanic related, I “asked jeeves” the hell out of it.  And when that video finally came out on VHS--don’t even get me started. I think my sisters and I wore it out in mere months (as well as our Titanic soundtrack). I especially loved the first half of the movie, and rarely watched the second, because there was always that brief, misguided hope that the ending would change. Alas, it didn’t, and eventually my heart did go on, as teenager hearts tend to do.

Then Titanic came out on 3D and I had to take advantage of seeing it in theaters again, if no other reason than to find an excuse to wear jellys and strawberry flavored lip gloss again.

Its kind of funny to watch that movie as an adult. Suddenly Jack looks less great boyfriend material, and more like a man who is dangerously impulsive, scarily obsessive, unemployed, and inclined to prostitutes… 

Harsh, I know. 

Age has made me jaded! Still a good movie though, in case you were wondering. And even as an adult, I still wished in a corner of my heart for a happy ending.

After all this time, I still find the Titanic fascinating. It has all the wonders of a great story—man versus nature, man tempting God, the wealthy versus the poor, luxury juxtaposed against destruction. So when I saw a Titanic cookbook on goodreads called Last Dinner On the Titanic: Menus and Recipes from the Great Liner, I knew it was something I had to read for my summer food reading list.

Now I’m not an expert chef by any means. I still manage to burn gluten-free toast every once in a while, even though I think I’m a decent cook. And although it was master chefs working on the Titanic, a lot of the recipes were easy enough for me to follow. So don’t let the extravagance of the Titanic turn you off from trying this cookbook—the second and third class menus have recipes that even beginners can achieve.

If you’re wanting to know what it must have felt like to dine on the Titanic, this book creates that experience for you. From descriptions to the formal wear, the layout of the dining rooms, and the food (oh man, that glorious food), reading this book feels like being a guest to dinner on the Titanic. But if that isn’t enough for you, the book has instructions on how to throwing your own Titanic dinner party (I would love to do this, but am WAY too lazy), or simply making your own Titanic themed meal (Bingo.).

So many recipes looked amazing, so it was a hard choice where to start, but like Rose’s mother said, “We’re women—our choices are never easy” (hardy har har).

(click the picture to go to the amazon listing if you want a copy!)

I ended up making a handful of the recipes, some turned out okay, but some were so good that even fancy Rose couldn’t turn up her nose to them. I’m not posting the recipes here, because I believe in supporting artists and encourage you to buy the book yourself. 

The unexpected favorite? Minted Pea Timbales. I NEVER would have come up with this combo (mint…plus peas???). But as Rose said, “It doesn’t make any sense. That’s why I trust it.” And it definitely worked.

The other recipe I really enjoyed was Vegetable Marrow Farci. This one was absolutely delicious, and I kind of love that they are “vegetable boats.” (No, the book doesn't call them boats. The book is much classier than I am...)

The Spring Asparagus Hollandaise was tasty as well, but I couldn't get the sauce right (very runny) and I followed the directions precisely, but oh well. I’d make this one again, but buy the hollandaise from the store (or try different instructions).

Lastly, I made the Roast Sirloin of Beef Forestiere. Although I did enjoy the gravy, I am definitely a plain steak kind of girl, and I didn't feel like the time I spent on this one was worth the outcome. Give me a grill over an oven for my steak any day. 

Overall, it was a really fun experience reading from the Titanic menus and impressing my spouse with Edwardian delicacies. I’m a history buff, so a history food fusion is something I’d love to try again. Any suggestions?

Here are the other books on my summer food reading list, feel free to read along!

Food Books on My Summer To-Read List:
(you're welcome to read with me!)

The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory by Carol J Adams

Gluten Is My Bitch: Rants, Recipes, and Ridiculousness for the Gluten-Free by April Peveteaux

Good Enough to Eat by Stacey Ballis 

Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health by William Davis 

Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef by Shauna James Ahern, Daniel Ahern

Last Dinner on the Titanic: Menus and Recipes from the Great Liner by Rick Archbold