Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What they ate: The Hindenberg

Herbert Morrison, a reporter WLS radio, was broadcasting from the Lakehurst, New Jersey airfield on May 6, 1937. He was standing by to report on the landing of the German airship Zepplin Hindenberg on her second trans-Atlantic crossing. He became the reporter of note for the tragic disaster above the airfield that day and in the midst of realizing the airship was engulfed in flames with a full crew and passenger list aboard, wailed from the ground, "Oh the humanity!"

The pictures of the disaster in history books throughout school were enough, were they not? So, instead, a bit of reassurance that the likely last meals of the souls gone on that day were quite glorious...

"Much attention had been given to "Hindenburg's" public rooms, where Dr. Durr and the airship's designers had excpected that the passengers would spend most of the daylight hours...To port, occupying an area measuring 15 X 50 feet, was the dining room. Here, with all the luxury and refinement of a small restaurant, were seats for 34 passengers--at four small tables for 2 person along the inboard wall, and at six larger tables outboard. The tables--and chairs likewise--were of a special lighweight tubular aluminum design--'as light as possible, as stable as possible'--created for the "Hindenburg" by Professor Breuhaus. In the dining room the chairs were upholstered in red. The inner walls, covered with airship cotton fabric and off-white in color, bore 21 original paintings by Professor Arpke...the colorful paintings in the dining room represented "Graf Zeppelin" on a South American journey... Meals in these surroundings were an unforgettable experience. Passengers were assigned seats by the chief steward (obviously there must have been two sittings)...The tables were laid with white linen napkins and tablecloths, fresh-cut flowers, fine silver, and the special china service created for the "Hindenbug."...Exquisitely confected of "Heinrich Ivory Porcelain," it is marked on the bottom "Property of the German Zeppelin Reederei," bears a chased gold and blue band around the rim, and exhibits the Reederei crest--a white Zeppelin, outlined in gold, superimposed on a blue globe with meridians of longitude and parallels of latitude in gold.

On dishes thus decorated the chief steward and three waiters served meals prepared in German style. Breakfast appears to have been a standard affair of rolls freshly baked in the ship's ovens, with butter, preserves or honey; eggs (served boiled in the shell for German passengers, fried or poached for Americans); Frankfurt sausage, ham, salami, cheese, fruit, coffee, tea, milk or cocoa.

On Monday, August 17, 1936, "Hindenburg's" passengers ate for luncheon: Strong Broth Theodor, Fattened Duckling, Bavarian Style with Champagne Cabbage, Savory Potatoes and Madiera Gravy, Pears Convent Style, Mocha. For dinner there was: Cream Soup Hamilton, Grilled Sole With Parsley Butter, Venison Cutlets Beauval with Berny Potatoes, Mushrooms and Cream Sauce, Mixed Cheese Plate. All this was served with tall bottles of Rhine and Moselle wines--Deideshiemer Kranzler Riesling, Piesporter Goldtropfchen Spatlese, Freiherr von Fahnenberg Spatlese, and others, as well as a few French red wines and an assortment of German champagnes led by the Deinard Cabinett, Troken (some 250 bottles of wine were carried on each crossing)."

-LZ 129 "Hindenburg", Douglas H. Robinson, Famous Aircraft Series [Morgan Books:Dallas TX] 1964


Barbara said...

Maybe the knowledge of their last meal being reasonably gourmet takes a bit of the macabre away from our images of their disastrous end......I only hope they drank every last drop of the wines they were offered and that it dimmed their awareness of what would be their demise.

little augury said...

love this post, of course a said end, it seems they were well satiated. pgt