According to an Evening Standard article entitled The Last Supper, diners at the HIX restaurant in Selfridges are being given the opportunity to sample the last meal enjoyed by first-class passengers on the Titanic. On the menu are such delights as Lindisfarne rock oysters, duck liver parfait, lamb cutlets and Warldorf pudding with cider brandy ice-cream. The menu has been given a 'contemporary twist' - presumably in case there are people who are so cutting-edge that they might shy away from eating such passé treats - and in, what could be seen as either a witty homage or the height of bad taste, there is even an iceberg-shaped éclair for dessert, called, surprise surprise, The Iceberg.
I can't be the only one who thinks that there are ways to mark such as tragedy as the Titanic and a menu consisting of the dishes eaten by people who were about to die, or lose loved ones, is not the way to do it. A heart-breaking 1,514 souls were lost on that terrible night and the lives of others changed forever. "We wanted to offer customers something a bit special to celebrate," says Mark Hix blithely, using entirely the wrong verb.
He is not the only one jumping onto the Titanic bandwagon. A commemorative voyage to the exact spot where the Titanic sank one hundred years ago has already set sail from Southampton. Its passengers, who have paid up to £6,000 for their tickets, are wearing period costume and will - again, what is it with the food thing? - be served the same meals as on the Titanic. The journey has already been dramatic. When its arrival in Ireland was delayed by a couple of hours due to some entirely typical spring weather, one over-wrought passenger was quoted as saying: "There is a bad feeling on board that maybe the voyage is doomed by bad luck."
Well unless the ship is equipped with the same (that is, totally inadequate) number of life boats and primitive iceberg-spotting equipment as the original ship then I think they're going to be okay, and a BBC cameraman who fell ill on board was airlifted off by a rather modern helicopter.
But it's hard to escape the feeling that the whole thing is in extremely poor taste. Later this year will New York restaurants begin serving the menu from Windows on the World which was on offer that terrible morning of September 11 2001? Will there be memorial flights over Manhattan where people will adopt the clothing worn by those people on board the doomed planes? What about other tragedies, such as the Hindenburg airship disaster, or Chernobyl, or the Columbia space shuttle? Will there be surfing trips to Japan to remember last year's tsunami, or a range of gas-fired barbeques to celebrate the Great Fire of London?
There are ways to remember those who perished in such tragic circumstances: by quiet reflection, a moment of prayer, a concerted effort to make sure such events can never happen again, or to try and minimise the damage and losses when they do. Remembering the Titanic can be done in many ways - a donation to the lifeboat service for example, or lobbying to ensure that passengers will never have to face such risks again (the Costa Concordia tragedy shows us that one hundred years on, there is still much to be done). But eating iceberg-shaped desserts? That just leaves a bad taste.
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