Last week marked the 110th anniversary of the sinking of the “practically unsinkable” H.M.S. Titanic, which struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic on April 14, 2012, and sank the following day. If your knowledge of this event is limited to the romanticized 1997 movie*, you may be unfamiliar with some basic Titanic lore, such as what the first-class passengers ate.
Here’s the menu of the last luncheon, from a postcard that I bought at the splendid Molly Brown House Museum in Denver.
It’s a real time capsule, isn’t it? You don’t expect to see baloney—excuse me, bologna sausage—on a first-class menu. And you don’t see brawn on any menus these days; in fact, I had to look up its culinary meaning. (“Fleshy part of a boar’s leg”; from Old French braon. It’s related to German braten, as in sauerbraten.) I had to look up brill, too, but that’s probably because I’m not British: Brill is a flatfish, related to turbot, that swims around the southern and western coasts of England and presumably is still eaten in those parts.
But the item that most piqued my curiosity appears in the Buffet section, under “potted shrimp” (which I’d heard of but never eaten): soused herring. I knew “soused” only as one of a gazillion slang terms meaning “drunk.” What was its connection to herring?