Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Gala Dinner on the Normandie

The Compagnie Générale Transatlantique - more commonly known as the French Line - celebrated the Normandie's debut with a gala dinner aboard the new liner. Everyone in France's high society was there, along with President Albert Lebrun and his wife. Even Sir Percy Bates, the head of the rival Cunard Line, was among the attendees. As the presidential couple entered the ship's magnificent dining room, all one thousand people waiting for them stood up and feverishly applauded. As everyone rose, it is said that the sound of chairs scraping agaist tile was deafening.

The dinner was to represent the very best of French cuisine. Only the finest would do. The chefs prepared a grand meal that included courses of turtle soup, turbotin aux poireaux, canard rouennaise braisé, and finally finished with a brand-new dish called Bombe Normandie. It was "a sinfully rich chocolate-covered finale that, appearing for the first time that night, would reappear repeatedly at numerous banquets to follow." To complete the evening, coffee and candy was distributed to the diners in good order.

It was a highly successful and elegant beginning for the Normandie's painfully short career.

References: John Maxtone-Graham, Normandie: France's Legendary Art Deco Ocean Liner (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2007), 118-119.

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