by Liz Miller
Yesterday, Gut Check shared our thoughts on the Fabulous Fox Theatre's tasteless $500 fundraising event that recreates the eleven-course meal that Titanic's first passengers ate the night the ship sank. In honor of the iceberg that shortchanged Titanic's maiden voyage, Gut Check has compiled a list of the five most memorable last suppers served before history's most avoidable disasters. Perhaps the Fox can revisit this list when planning its next vulgar recreation of human misery!
1. Titanic: After much discussion, you might be wondering what that last fated first-class, eleven-course meal contained. The lengthy menu would be gourmet even by today's standards, with oysters, poached salmon in mousseline sauce, filet mignon, vegetable marrow farci, roast duckling, roast squab and pate de foie gras rounding out the hors d'oeuvres and mains, with Waldorf pudding, chocolate and vanilla eclairs and peaches in chartreuse jelly for dessert. Not as decadent as you might have hoped, but not the worst thing one could eat. The worst thing you could eat as your last meal would be rice soup and bread, which was dinner for steerage passengers. Can't get enough death food? You're in luck; two profiteers of human misery have taken the guesswork out of all your favorite Titanic recipes.
2. Space Shuttle Challenger Explosion: January was a rough month for 1986. Kodak lost a patent battle with Polaroid to produce its own line of instant cameras, the first computer virus began attacking personal computers and the space shuttle Challenger exploded. Yikes. If you didn't live through the details or ever take a fucking history class, here's what happened: On January 28, 1986, only 73 seconds after taking flight, Challenger broke apart and disintegrated in mid-flight, killing its seven crew members. In 2,086, if the Fox still exists and the dictator of our totalitarian state allows it, perhaps a "Challenger Centennial" will feature a re-creation menu of the 1980s space food that those seven astronauts enjoyed before turning to dust. That menu might include mouthwatering favorites like freeze-dried ice cream, freeze-dried beef stew and freeze-dried ice cream (seriously, "menu fatigue" for astronauts is a thing NASA researches and studies.)
3. Pan Am Flight 103: Another transatlantic jaunt that wasn't to be: On December 21, 1988, Pan American Airlines Flight 103 departed from London's Heathrow Airport destined for John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. While flying over Lockerbie, Scotland, it was attacked by a bombing and exploded, killing all 243 passengers and sixteen crew members. Though Gut Check couldn't track down the actual in-flight menu for Pan Am Flight 103, we did find a 1980s business-class (or Clipper Class as Pan Am called it) brunch menu, which would be appropriate, as the plane went down at 1:00 p.m. CST. Businesspeople aboard the flight might have enjoyed eggs Florentine or a creole omelet as their main, with a fresh baked croissant or danish pastry.
4. Hindenburg disaster: Did you know that the Hindenburg, an airship that eventually caught fire, killing thirteen passengers and 22 crew members, had a smoking room? Oh, the 1930s. Not everyone aboard the zeppelin died, in fact, more passengers and crew survived than perished, so this disaster might not be catastrophic enough for a $500 centennial re-creation dinner. A German airship created during Nazi rule, the Hindenburg wasn't short on German favorites; an average dinner of Königsberger Klopse, a Polish dish that combines pork, beef, anchovy filets and sour cream in caper sauce, was often served in its highfalutin dining room. The Hindenburg also had a spacious bar area, which we can only hope passengers partook of before the airship was engulfed in flames.
5. Crucifixion of Jesus: A timely comparison for both the Titanic and Jesus, this last supper is likely the most famous in history. What did Jesus and his twelve apostles indulge in during the meal that bore the Eucharist? According to the Gospels in the christian Bible, sometime between cryptically foretelling his fateful betrayal and prophesying that Peter would deny him three times, Jesus and the twelve ate bread, fish and fruit washed down with wine. Care to try the Jesus diet? Because of course there's a cookbook for that, too.