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MOVEABLE FEASTFor those who still appreciate


A


ll aboard! Those two words evoke so many images: a uniformed conductor flourishing a flag; elegantly dressed passengers blowing kisses as the train departs; gleaming champagne glasses and beautifully presented plates on linen covered tables in the dining car. Think Murder on the Orient Express, Doctor Zhivago, or North by Northwest. It’s straight out of Hollywood, of course, but there was a time when travelling by rail was glamorous.


While trains have changed greatly since 1868 when the first Pullman dining car − the Delmonico − took rail travel from hick to chic, the dining car on American trains today hasn’t altered


the slower pace and scenic worth of rail travel, the added value of fine dining can make it priceless, finds Liz Campbell


much. That first one had an 8ft by 8ft kitchen and it seated about 48 diners in two areas, each with six tables for four. During the first half of the 20th century – the Golden Age of rail travel – 120 railway companies crossed the US in style. James D Porterfield, director of the Center for Railway Tourism, at Davis & Elkins College in West Virginia, and author of books such as Dining by Rail, explains: “There might have been a chef, three cooks and 10 waiters serving 250 meals daily in the dining car. Over time, food became exceptional as railroads competed for riders. Some of the finest chefs in the US worked on the railroads and dining cars became like first class hotels. In fact, the New York Central


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