The band played on (and the chef cooked sautéed chicken lyonnaise)

A 'Titanic' memorial voyage will offer the ship's original menu. Tom Peck reports
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The Independent Online

In first class they enjoyed filet mignons lili with pâté de foie gras, while in third class they made do with vegetable soup and cabin biscuits. Later, an iceberg in the mid-Atlantic would ruin the meal for everyone.

More than 1,500 people ate their last supper on board the RMS Titanic on 14 April 1912. Now a cookbook based on the menus from that fateful voyage will give curious diners a chance to recreate the culinary options enjoyed by the passengers of the White Star Line's flagship shortly before most came to share the same sad fate. RMS Titanic: Dinner is Served has been compiled by Yvonne Hume, a great-niece of the first violinist in the ship's orchestra, John Law Hume, who drowned on the crossing at the age of 21.

And on 12 April 2012, two days before the 100th anniversary of the maritime disaster, a memorial cruise will set sail, following the ship's planned route. Those on board will enjoy the same meals as were served to the vessel's first – and last – paying passengers.

The Titanic Memorial Cruise has 1,300 berths available on the MS Balmoral of the Fred Olsen line. Sixty per cent of tickets have already been sold. Tara Plumley, of Miles Morgan Travel, which is organising the cruise, said, "We will also be organising the high teas that were so popular on board the Titanic. The chefs with the Fred Olsen line are keen to be as accurate as possible."

On the menu will be everything from the oysters, roast squab (young pigeon) and sautéed chicken lyonnaise enjoyed by the first-class guests, to the baked haddock with sharp sauce of second class and the ragout of beef and plum pudding offered to third-class travellers. Iceberg lettuce is nowhere to be seen.

In 1912, a Millionaire's Suite on the doomed vessel cost $4,500 (approximately £75,000 in today's money). The cheapest one-way fare was $36. These passengers were mostly poor emigrants looking for a new life in the US. Supper was served in the form of gruel, and could be accompanied with a tankard of beer for 3d (£1.10 today).

On the memorial cruise, a Superior Suite – the most expensive remaining – is priced at £5,995. Cabins are available for £2,650 on the cruise, which is planned to last 12 nights – considerably longer than the voyage it commemorates.

Many might find the idea of recreating the last hours on board the doomed vessel a morbid prospect. But Ms Hume, a former restaurateur who lives in Norfolk, disagrees. "The whole subject is almost romantic," she told Scotland on Sunday newspaper. "There are many Titanic societies across the land, and these enthusiasts get together and have Titanic-themed evenings."

Ms Hume said that while researching the disaster in which her great-uncle died she became fascinated by details such as the food served on board. "I found the menus themselves, and then brought them up to date ... so that cooks of all skills can actually recreate the menus."

Each recipe in her book comes with the date and class in which it was served: such as honey-roasted salmon with mousseline sauce, served in first class on the evening of 14 April. As the diners chatted, reports of icebergs in the vessel's path were being communicated to the ship's radio operators, who did not deem them worthy to pass on to the bridge.

First violinist John Hume was one of 2,223 men, women and children on board RMS Titanic when it struck an iceberg shortly before midnight on 14 April. He was not among the 706 people who survived after it sank two-and-a-half hours later.

Hume was, however, one of a small group of musicians who played on deck in an attempt to quell the rising panic as women and children were loaded into lifeboats – a scene that was recreated in James Cameron's 1997 Oscar-winning film Titanic.

The 21-year-old Hume drowned wearing a light raincoat and uniform jacket, with a knife with a carved pearl handle and an empty purse in his pockets, the official records show.

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