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Melissa Locker

Cruise ship safety has improved dramatically since the unsinkable HMS Titanic sank. When it came to the cruise food, though, there was little room for improvement. The Titanic made sure that its passengers—at least its first-class ones—had only the best. 

How do we know? Several menus from the ship survived the voyage and, in fact, a first-class lunch menu sold for $88,000 at auction in 2014.

First class travelers on the Titanic had a divine dining experience, which, at the time, meant lots of French cuisine. That included consommé fermier, eggs a l'Argenteuil (scrambled with asparagus tips), fillets of brill, and something called cockie leekie—a.k.a. chicken and leeks. 

The luncheon buffet featured items like "potted shrimps", Norwegian anchovies, salmon mayonnaise, corned ox tongue, and galantine of chicken. The buffet also featured an array of cheese including Cheshire, Stilton, Camembert, and Roquefort. The sommelier recommended pairing the meal with iced Munich lager.

While the second-class menu was a step down for travelers, for modern diners the food actually sounds much more palatable, with breakfast menu items like soda scones, buckwheat cakes, bacon, eggs, sausages, and fried potatoes. Dinner included spring lamb with mint, roast turkey and cranberry sauce, and baked haddock with "sharp sauce"—a spicy mustard butter sauce, which was also a favorite at Downton Abbey. Dessert included options like plum pudding, American ice cream, and something called a cocoanut sandwich.

Things went right downhill for third class diners, though. Breakfast options included oatmeal porridge, smoked herring, and ham and eggs, while lunch consisted of rice soup, roast beef, and boiled potatoes. It's the supper menu that is the true insult, though, as it consists of nothing but bread, cheese, and actual gruel. 

No word on what will be served on the Titanic II when it sets sail in 2018.

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