Brunel’s SS Great Britain launches Victorian dining simulation experience

Possibly the world’s first Victorian meal experienced entirely through nostrils, Brunel’s SS Great Britain museum has laid out a five-course spread with zero calories! Although not every flavour in this unique dining simulation experience is to modern tastes.

The museum is an elaborately themed passenger steamship, redressed to look, sound and smell exactly like it did during the mid-1800s. Its immersive cabins do not shy away from the likes of vomit, manure and urine to tell stories from the past.

For their Scent-sational Voyage event, they are inviting visitors into their stunning First-class Dining Saloon to enjoy a meal the ship’s wealthy passengers would once have been served. The big twist is that the courses, ranging from putrid fish to boiled cabbage, are all served in special silverware for sniffing.

Liam R. Findlay, themed scent consultant at AromaPrime, which makes the ship’s historically-accurate smells, said: “It was brilliant to see how completely transforming the way visitors perceive historical food, by removing the physical and visual elements, and focussing entirely on the flavours, sparked lively discussion. Families were trying to guess what they could smell, debating about the qualities of different Victorian recipes. One child commented on the differences between 1800s chocolate and his modern snacks. Without them realising, this unique banquet simulation helped visitors really scrutinise the food of the past and put themselves in the shoes of past passengers. It shows how approaching history in a new way can unlock completely new perspectives!”

The fish course proves notorious, its aroma differing greatly to the aroma of modern fish fingers, and one child has compared the boiled cabbage course to the essence of his school. Visitors are invited to rank the menu as they ‘dine, and the museum plans to perfume its tables with the odour that scores highest! This exciting new smellscape, chosen by visitors, will be unveiled at the end of April.

Interpretation Manager, Natalie Fey, said: “Smells are important to us here at Brunel’s SS Great Britain, because they have the ability to create a really visceral reaction. It’s such a sensitive sense. It packs that immersive punch that we’re looking for!”

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