Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 27.djvu/97

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85
THE CHEMISTRY OF COOKERY.

inquirers, and encouraged some sneerers at this work of the great scientific philanthropist, viz., that he found that less than five ounces of solids was sufficient for each man's dinner. He was supplying far more nutritious material than beef and potatoes, and therefore his five ounces was more satisfactory than a pound of beef and potatoes, three fourths of which is water, for which water John Bull pays a shilling or more per pound when he buys his prime steak.

Rumford added the water at pump-cost, and, by long boiling, caused some of it to unite with the solid materials (by the hydration I have described), and then served the combination in the form of porridge, raising each portion to nineteen and three quarters ounces.

I might multiply such examples to prove the fallacy of the prevailing notions concerning the nutritive value of the "mixed diet," a fallacy which is merely an inherited epidemic, a baseless physical superstition.

I will, however, just add one more example for comparison — viz., the Highlander's porridge. The following is the composition of oat-meal — also from Pavy's table:

Water 15·00   Sugar 5·40
Albumen 12·60   Fat 5·60
Starch 58·40   Salts 3·00

Compare this with the beef and potatoes above, and it will be seen that it is superior hi every item excepting the water. This deficiency is readily supplied in the cookery.

These figures explain a puzzle that may have suggested itself to some of my thoughtful readers — viz., the smallness of the quantity of dry oatmeal that is used in making a large portion of porridge. If we could, in like manner, see our portion of beef or mutton and potatoes reduced to dryness, the smallness of the quantity of actually solid food required for a meal would be similarly manifest. An alderman's banquet in this condition would barely fill a breakfast-cup.

I can not at all agree with those of my vegetarian friends who denounce flesh-meat as a prolific source of disease, as inflaming the passions, and generally demoralizing. Neither am I at all disposed to make a religion of either eating or drinking, or abstaining. There are certain albuminoids, certain carbo-hydrates, certain hydrocarbons, and certain salts demanded for our sustenance. Excepting in fruit, these are not supplied by Nature in a fit condition for our use. They must be prepared. Whether we do all the preparation in the kitchen by bringing the produce of the earth directly there, or whether, on account of our ignorance and incapacity as cooks, we pass our food through the stomach, intestines, blood-vessels, etc., of sheep and oxen, as a substitute for the first stages of scientific cookery, the result is about the same as regards the dietetic result. Flesh-feeding is a nasty practice, but I see no grounds for denouncing it as physiologically injurious.

In my youthful days I was on friendly terms with a sheep that be-