Our first voyage is aboard the Cunard ship R.M.S ‘Carmania.’ It is one hundred and five years ago to the day. We are on the last day or so of a trip from New York to Liverpool. We sit down to a reassuringly plain English dinner.
R.M.S ‘Carmania’, Thursday, November 7, 1907.
Cod Fish, Oyster Sauce
Curried Veal and Rice
Roast Turkey, Sauce Espagnole
Ox Tongue, Spinach
Roast Leg of Mutton, Onion Sauce
Dressed Cabbage Boiled Potatoes
Plum Tart Orange Jelly
Ice Cream Dessert
Cheese Crackers Coffee
It is interesting that the old usage of the word ‘dessert’ persists on this menu. Today we would view the puddings and pastries as the dessert, but once upon a time the word referred to a final course of nuts, dried fruit and other sweetmeats. Before they were the ‘dessert’ these little treats were the ‘banquetting stuff’ – and the ‘banquet’ was the final course of a meal.
Milk puddings have a special place in the English psyche. The English have never grown out of their love of nursery puddings – or at least, they had still not grown out of it well into the twenty-first century.
Take from one quart of milk enough to mix with one ounce of arrow-root, boil the remainder, and pour on the arrow-root, sprinkle and stir in three ounces of semolina, three tea-spoonfuls of sugar, one table-spoonful of orange-flower water; let this be cold, and then add two eggs well beaten and stirred in; butter the dish, and put a small piece on the top. Bake it one hour in a moderate oven.
The Practical Cook, English and Foreign, by J. Bregion and A. Miller (1845)
Bregion and Miller is a wonderful cookbook, such an interesting combination of quintessentially English and "foreign" foods (including a ham with a good flavor but an unfortunate shape).
Thank you for the cruise!
I'm intrigued as to how the nuts and fruits of "dessert" were served (presentation)? Thanks.
Hi Doug. At a dinner on land, they would have been served, most likely, in an informal buffet style: platters piled elegantly high with fruit, and beautiful dishes of nuts and sweetmeats, and thin biscuits. Guests would help themselves. I think on board ship, there would have been something similar, perhaps smaller fruit platters for each table.
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