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Titanic, the luxury on the plate

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Titanic, the luxury on the plate

Published in Italy by Magazzini Salani with the translation by Alessandro Apreda, comes Veronica Hinke’s book «Titanic. 40 timeless recipes for every occasion.” A beautiful blue volume. On the cover, cut out in gold, the silhouette of the protagonists in the most famous scene of James Cameron’s film. The hug that seems to want to take flight. The intent of the volume is not so much to recall one of the most famous tragedies in history, but rather to reconstruct the atmosphere of everyday life while sailing. Especially in first class. In fact, on the back cover we read the exhortation: «Recreate the atmosphere of pomp and elegance that could be felt on board the most famous ship of all time! What did Jack and Rose and all the other guests on the Titanic eat and drink? Get ready to replicate some of the sophisticated recipes that were served to passengers of the legendary ocean liner. Amaze everyone by organizing parties in perfect Edwardian style and relive the magic of one of the most loved films of all time.” This is the chosen approach which is carried forward to the end.

Just scroll through the book summary to confirm this. After starting with an introduction, we begin with some notions of old-fashioned etiquette: «Traditional Edwardian table setting, 5 essential elements of the table, 10 things to do and not to do in Edwardian etiquette, board games and entertainment.” There is also a quiz on the film, an entertainment before starting the recipe dance. These are divided into six easy-to-reference sections. And they deliberately unfold on two tables, uniting the passengers of the Titanic and the spectators of the film in an ideal game of mirrors. They then display «Sensational appetizers; soups, salads and side dishes; memorable main dishes; classic desserts; cinema snacks; cocktail”. To continue with the interesting topic, it can be said that in the book the bibliography and index act, respectively, as coffee and coffee killer.

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You can find many of the foods imaginable: oysters and caviar, just to give the most blatant example. But what strikes today’s reader is certainly the great refinement of the preparations. The dishes respond to the need to offer inventive richness of combinations, contrasts of flavors and colors, harmony of taste. So here is the salmon with mousseline sauce, the fried calamari with tomato and chilli sauce; herring in lemon thyme sauce, spring consommé jardinière, figs cooked in red wine with orange basmati rice, peach Melba with raspberry sauce and cinnamon ice cream, cherry clafoutis… As for originality of the names used, the chapter to select is undoubtedly that of cocktails. On the subject you can see your imagination run wild and run between «Old Fashioned», «Brandy Smash», «Blue Moon», «Clover Club», «Horse’s Neck», and even «Bobby Burns with Scottish lavender biscuits».

Each recipe generally has a short introduction that contextualizes the dish with curiosities and anecdotes. As in any cookbook, there is a list of ingredients and the recipe, the latter step by step. Aimed at today’s readers, the manual does not disdain contemporary aids such as food processors. But it immediately recovers its vintage charm, especially in the boxes entitled “The chef’s advice”. A significant example is the one dedicated to toasting pine nuts: «To toast the pine nuts, heat the oven to 180°. Spread them in a buttered bowl with a pinch of salt. Bake for approximately 10 minutes, until golden. Mix after the first 5 minutes.” In short, a work environment in which perfection is aspired to. However, one of the questions in the quiz on the film concerns a different concreteness: “During dinner in first class, how does Jack describe the conditions of the accommodation in third class?”. Among the five available answer options, the correct one is: «The best he has ever seen, ma’am. Just a few mice here and there.”

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