The Chicken And Banana Dish Served To The Titanic's First Class Diners

Bananas can inspire some interesting conversations that can quickly morph into a food fight. While Medical News Today touts this elongated fruit wrapped up in a yellow peel for its high potassium content and rich nutrients, not everyone can get past its texture. Bon Appétit's former editor-in-chief Andrew Rappaport is one of those detractors, and he shared his disapproval of the fruit, saying, "It's the tuna fish sandwich of the fruit world. I can still remember the smell of a mushy, hot banana that's been sitting in a public school locker for three hours. Ever since then I've been traumatized by them." 

Of course, this food critic is not alone in his beliefs. Restaurant editor Andrew Knowlton joined in the banana bashing saying, "no one over the age of 3 has any business eating a banana." Rappaport continued that it only belongs in baked goods like homemade brown butter banana bread. So, imagine the conversation the Andrews would have learning a chicken and banana dish was part of the menu for voyagers aboard the Titanic on its fateful journey in 1912. According to House Beautiful, this was an authentic American dish that was served to first-class passengers. It was considered a delicacy at the time, though it can still be found today.  

Chicken à la Maryland

This chicken-banana dish is known as Chicken à la Maryland, per the Spruce Eats. The site shares that famed French chef Auguste Escoffier is credited with reviving this dish in his book "Ma Cuisine." However, Fannie Merritt Farmer included a recipe for it in her 1896 publication, "The Boston Cooking School Cook Book," where she called the dish Chicken Maryland. Escoffier and Farmer's recipes are quite similar. A quick look at the recipes reveals this meal includes boneless, breaded chicken fried in butter that's covered in gravy or cream sauce. 

Farmer's recipe makes no mention of bananas as a side, and it is unclear when this fruit became a part of the meal. But as Spruce Eats notes, Escoffier wasn't the only chef who used bananas in his version of this dish. Visit Maryland touts its recipe for Chicken Maryland and explains that bananas were, at one time, one of the Port of Baltimore's biggest imports, which may be the reason this fruit was used to garnish this dish. So, if you have an aversion to all things bananas and are considering ordering Chicken Maryland when you see it on the menu, you have three options: reconsider your order, ask the waiter to hold the fruit, or embrace the YOLO philosophy and give it a try.