It is clear that food was a big part of the daily experience on board. First class passenger Annie Henning wrote ‘we do little else but eat’ which was true at least four times a day. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper and, sometimes, tea, were served – tables in the First-Class Saloon were regularly laden with a wide variety of roast meats and pastries. The ladies would be seated before the men to make room for their large hooped skirts, and twelve stewards would line the saloon to place the extravagant dishes on the tables.
By comparison, down in Steerage (fourth class) the food lacked variety and was rather beige. Rations, included in the ticket price, were largely made up of ships biscuits and salted preserved meats. The anonymous Quaker wrote ‘I’ve had so much salted pork I am ashamed to look a pig in the face’. Dinner time was less of an occasion too, passengers were split into messes of 8–14 people who ate together with one member of the group appointed to be the mess man in charge of collecting rations, taking them to the galley to be cooked then serving them up come dinner time.