The Art of Living in Australia/Chapter 6
The larger part of this work is taken up with a consideration of the most suitable diet for those living in Australia. In this way a greater restriction in the amount of butcher’s meat is counselled, while a more widely extended use of fish, vegetables, and salad plants is advocated. And as far as beverages are concerned, Australian wine of a low alcoholic strength is recommended as being the most natural beverage for every-day use. But there are a few other matters connected with food, and drink, and daily habits which will deserve some little reference, and accordingly they will be dealt with. These are fruit, tea, coffee, iced drinks, and the use of tobacco. All these are important enough to merit notice; indeed, they are subjects possessing more than usual interest.
Before proceeding to give attention to these, however, it will be most convenient, at this stage, to make some remarks upon the vital topic of the first meal of the day. With the great bulk of our population sufficient heed is never given it, and yet it is of infinite consequence. By far the greater number of people dawdle in bed till the last possible moment, when all at once they jump into their bath—that is, if they take a bath—swallow a hasty breakfast, and make a frantic rush for their steamer, train, or tram, in order to begin their daily work. How very much better than all this bustle, hurry, and scuttle an hour’s earlier rising would be! It would afford ample time for the bath, which should be a bath in the truest sense of the term; it would, above all, give a proper opportunity for a leisurely breakfast, which is in every respect the most important meal of the day; and lastly, it would save that wild dash at the last, which is so fatal to proper digestion and well-being.
But it is a sad fact that, in most cases, even when there is due time given to it, the monotony of the ordinary breakfast is almost proverbial. With regard to the average household it is a matter of deep conjecture as to what most people would do if a prohibition were placed upon chops, steak, and sausages for breakfast. If such an awful calamity happened, many the father of a family would have to put up with scanty fare. It is very much to be feared that the inability to conceive of something more original for the morning meal than the eternal trio referred to is a melancholy reproach to the housekeeping capabilities of many. To read an account of a highland breakfast, in contradistinction to this paucity of comestibles, is to make one almost pensive. The description of the snowy tablecloth, the generously loaded table, the delicious smell of the scones and honey, the marmalade, the different cakes, the fish, the bacon, and the toast, is enough to create a desire to dwell there for a very prolonged period. However, REVENONS A NOS MOUTONS; this has been adverted to, not so much with the idea of urging people to copy such an example, because expense would render it an impossibility, but to try and awaken a determination to make more variety at the breakfast table. It is to be hoped that some of the recipes at the end of the volume will serve as a means of initiating a reform in this respect.
But under all circumstances, whether brain or muscle be employed by the bread-winner, a substantial breakfast is of first-rate importance. There is one form of food which it is especially necessary should constitute part of the meal, and which must be referred to. This is that variety known as the hydro-carbons or fats. The value of fat, in any of its many forms, in promoting the health of the body and preventing the onset of wasting diseases is hardly appreciated, and besides this action it markedly serves to nourish the brain and nervous system. Dr. Murchison, the late eminent physician, was wont to declare that bacon fat or ham fat was worth a guinea an ounce in the treatment of wasting diseases. Cod liver oil, also, has a wide repute in the treatment of the same class of maladies. Indeed, it is related of an eminent barrister that he used to take a full dose of cod liver oil some time before going to plead an important case, for he found it better brain food than anything else.
In our semi-tropical climate, however, a dislike is often taken to butter when it is presented at breakfast in the form of semi-liquid grease. It would require a person with the stomach of an ostrich to digest, to say nothing of relish, such an oleaginous compound during our hot months. But if this necessary and all-important article of diet can be presented in an appetising shape, what a desirable result is achieved I The mass of the people—I am not referring to those who are well endowed with worldly gifts—are apt to look upon the ice chest as a luxury which is altogether beyond their means. But, as I have said elsewhere, I am firmly persuaded that if the price of ice were brought down to one-halfpenny per pound, and if a company were formed to deliver such a small quantity as six pounds per day, or every second day, it would be a great boon, and moreover a wonderfully profitable speculation. A very small and suitable ice chest could be constructed, to sell at a few shillings, solely to preserve the butter in a congealed, and therefore palatable, state, for children as well as for adults. The former would take it with great avidity, and the benefit to health resulting therefrom would be incalculable. Even in some of the better-class houses ice is looked upon too much as a luxury, and not, as it should be, a necessity; indeed, the money saved from gas during the summer months might well be expended in ice.
Not only is this fatty breakfast a necessary feature in the diet of everybody, particularly of the young and growing population, but it is likewise a most important matter with all brain workers. If the business or professional man can put in a liberal breakfast, consisting largely of butter, fat bacon or ham, he can go on all day with a feeling of energy and buoyancy. It is in this aversion to fatty matter, in any shape or form, that the bilious and dyspeptic are so fearfully handicapped. And not only is it necessary for an active mental worker to be supplied with a good proportion of fatty material, but, as I have just said, it is essential that his breakfast should be a substantial one, in which his food is not stinted in any way. As Dr. Milner Fothergill said: “I would always back a good breakfaster, from a boy to a game cockerel; a good meal to begin the day is a good foundation.” So, too, Mr. Christopher Heath, the well-known London surgeon, in his advice to house surgeons and other medical officers living in hospitals, says, “the first symptom of \‘knocking up,/’ is an inability to eat breakfast,” and goes on to point out how important a meal it is, and that it should be taken deliberately and without undue haste.
It is undoubtedly a most fortunate thing for us in Australia that fruit is so abundant, and that it is easily within the reach of all. There is something wonderfully attractive about it; its colouring in particular appeals so to the eye that a good show of well-assorted fruit is always certain to ensure attention. Many fruits, moreover, have a magnificent fragrance which lends to their agreeable taste. It is somewhat of a pity that fruit is not more ordinarily eaten at meals, particularly with the breakfast. There is an old proverb that fruit is gold in the morning, silver at noon, and lead at night; and it is undoubtedly a fact that it is especially beneficial when eaten early in the day. In France, fruit is a constant part of every meal, and there is no question but that such a proceeding is desirable. It was formerly the custom with English people at regular dinners to have dessert on the table all through the courses, but it is now more customary to present it at the termination of the repast, so that it is quite fresh and not saturated with odours absorbed from the soup, fish, etc.
The agreeable qualities of fruits may be said to reside in three different factors. First, there is the proportion of sugar, gum, pectin, etc., to free acid; next, the proportion of soluble to insoluble matters; and thirdly, the aroma, which, indeed, is no inconsiderable element therein. This latter quality—the aroma, fragrance, or perfume of fruit—is due to the existence of delicate and exquisite ethers. These subtle ethers Are often accompanied by essential oils, which may render the aroma more penetrating and continued. Those fruits like the peach, greengage, and mulberry, which almost melt in the mouth, contain a very large amount of soluble substances. Some fruits, like the peach and apricot, carry but a small amount of sugar as compared with the free acid they contain. Yet the free acid is not distinctly perceptible, because its taste is covered by a larger proportion of gum, pectin, and other gelatinous substances. There are other fruits again, such as the currant and gooseberry, which are markedly acid, because there is only a small amount of gum and pectin, and a relatively larger amount of free acid.
With regard to fruit when eaten in its raw state, the question of ripeness is a most important ones and is always to be considered; so that whatever views may be entertained as to the dietetic value of ripe fruit, there is a consensus of opinion on the fact that when unripe it is most injurious. Care must be taken, therefore, to see that it is perfectly ripe, and no considerations of economy must be allowed to over-ride the fact. At the same time, though ripeness is a necessary qualification of wholesomeness, yet fruit must not be over-ripe, as changes occur which render it undesirable for the system, and thus in avoiding Scylla we may fall into Charybdis. The skin of fruit should never be eaten, nor should the stones, pips, or seeds be swallowed, as there is a danger of their accumulating in a small pouch of the bowel known as the vermiform appendix. Their lodgment in this little pocket is a constant source of peril, and would soon set up an inflammation, which must always be attended with a considerable amount of danger.
As to the question of the unripeness or over-ripeness of fruit, the following remarks by Dr. F.W. Pavy, an acknowledged authority on all that relates to food, and worth recording:—“Fruit forms an agreeable and refreshing kind of food, and, eaten in moderate quantity, exerts a favourable influence as an article of diet. It is chiefly of service for the carbo-hydrates, vegetable acids, and alkaline salts it contains. It enjoys, too, in a high degree, the power of counteracting the unhealthy state found to be induced by too close a restriction to dried and salted provisions. Whilst advantageous when consumed in moderate quantity, fruit, on the other hand, proves injurious if eaten in excess. Of a highly succulent nature, and containing free acids and principles liable to undergo change, it is apt, when ingested out of due proportion to other food, to act as a disturbing element, and excite derangement of the alimentary canal. This is particularly likely to occur if eaten either in the unripe or over-ripe state; in the former case, from the quantity of acid present; in the latter, from its strong tendency to ferment and decompose within the digestive tract. The prevalence of stomach and bowel disorders, noticeable during the height of the fruit season, affords proof of the inconveniences that the too free use of fruit may give rise to.”
The different forms of fruit, and also of vegetables, owe their great value to the fact that they possess powerful anti-scorbutic properties. It will be best and simplest to define the word “anti-scorbutic” as “good against the scurvy.” This latter disease is notably dependent on a want of fresh fruit and vegetables in the dietary, and consequently is more often observed amongst sailors; and though accessory conditions, such as great privations, bad provisions, or unhealthy surroundings, may predispose to it, yet that which essentially produces it is the deficiency of the former articles from the food. At the present time it is not nearly so frequently seen, since, according to the mercantile marine regulations, subject to legislative enactments passed in 1867, in lieu of vegetables, one ounce of lime juice, sweetened with the same quantity of sugar, must be served out to each man daily.
In scurvy there is some great change effected in the blood, and it is as well to refer briefly to the characters possessed by the latter. The blood as it exists in the body is a red alkaline fluid, having a saltish taste and possessing quite a noticeable odour. It consists of minute bodies, the corpuscles, immersed in a liquid, the LIQUOR SANGUINIS. Salts also enter into its composition, and include the chlorides of potash and soda; the phosphates of lime, magnesia,-and soda; the sulphate of potash, and free soda. Of these the salts of soda predominate, and the chloride—that is, common salt—is usually in excess of all the others. The uses of these salts in the blood are to supply the different tissues with the salts they respectively require, to take part in maintaining the proper specific gravity and alkaline character of the blood, and to prevent any changes going on within it.
In scurvy, as mentioned before, the blood seems to undergo some great change, and there are accumulations of it beneath the skin. The gums become spongy, bleeding on the slightest touch, and the teeth frequently loosen. Blood often flows from the mouth and nose, or is vomited from the stomach, or is passed through the bowels. Dr. Garrod advanced the view that scurvy was dependent on a deficiency of potash in the stem, and that vegetables which contained potash supplied the want. It is questionable, however, whether the disease is due to this fact alone, since beef tea, which contains a good deal of potash, may be given freely to a scorbutic patient, yet he fails to recover till proper anti-scorbutic diet is supplied. Dr. Ralfe found by experiments that when acids are injected into the blood, or an excess of acid salts administered, the same changes occur in the blood as in scurvy. Hence he supposes that the latter disease is caused by a decrease in the alkalinity of the blood, which results from the absence of fruit and vegetables from the food.
Now, although characteristic cases of scurvy are as a rule to be met with chiefly in sailors, yet there is no doubt that an insufficiency of the preceding in the dietary brings about an unhealthy condition of the system. Many typical examples of this are frequently seen in the patients admitted into our hospitals. They have been living, perhaps, in isolated districts in the country, where their sole food was mutton and damper, with no restriction placed on tea and tobacco. As a rule their skin presents evidences of the need of proper diet, for it looks unhealthy and is often covered with boils. But apart from these cases, which so plainly indicate the origin of the poor condition of the blood, there are many instances in which, from the want of vegetable food and fruit, the system becomes greatly deranged. moreover, what is known as the blood being “out of order” is mostly due to an unsuitable diet, consisting of animal food in excess, and a corresponding deficiency of the other essentials.
The use of fruit, again, is especially indicated in persons disposed to the formation of uric acid in excess. When this actually occurs, the system becomes overloaded with deleterious matter, and the blood and body fluids are then saturated with a MATERIES MORBI. This morbific material is best understood by regarding it as being in an incomplete or half-way stage, in which form it is injurious. But, on the other hand, if it had proceeded to its final change, the completed product would have been harmless. Indeed, it is as the latter that it mostly leaves the body in ordinary conditions of health. Well then, the retention within the system of this incompletely transformed material gives rise to various symptoms. One of them is a bitter or “coppery” taste in the mouth, notably in the early morning. Oftentimes, too, patients will complain that they do not feel at all refreshed on rising, even when they have slept fairly well—which does not happen too frequently. There may be also a great tendency to drowsiness, accompanied by severe pains in the limbs, coming on about an hour after meals. Other symptoms which are commonly met with are great irritability of the temper and lowness of spirits. There is frequently a headache of a peculiar kind. It comes on generally in the morning, and may last all day, or even for several days. It is a dull, heavy pain, felt most often in the forehead. A curious feature of the affection which sometimes exists is an incontrollable desire to grind the teeth during the waking hours. There are other symptoms, also, characteristic of the same malady, namely, palpitation of the heart and intermittency of the pulse; a liability to colds on the chest; and perhaps repeated attacks of difficulty in breathing. From all this it follows that a more liberal supply of fruit for such individuals would be followed by the most beneficial results and their children might well be taught to follow their example. For it must be remembered that all fruits contain alkaline salts which are good for the blood. These alkaline vegetable salts become changed within the body, and converted into the carbonate of the alkali, in which latter form they pass out of the system.
But before finally closing this portion it is necessary to say a few words about olives, from which the famous olive oil is obtained, and indeed with regard to their virtues nearly a volume might be written. With many people the olive, like the tomato, is an acquired taste, and unfortunately too many fail to overcome their first impressions; but it is certainly worth acquiring, even if the process takes a long time and requires much perseverance, on account of its highly nutritive value. Children are often very fond of olives, and persistent efforts should be made to induce those who do not like them to overcome their aversion. We speak of “French olives” and “Spanish olives”; the former are gathered young, and are small and hard, while the latter are allowed to remain till a later period of growth, when they become softer and more pulpy. The French olives are more piquant in flavour than the larger kind. They are also better to eat as a fruit, though many prefer the Spanish, and are sometimes employed to clear the palate before drinking wines. The larger or Spanish olives are more adapted for cooking, as in the dish known as beef olives, and also for salads. There must be no misconception as to the name French or Spanish as applied to olives; it does not refer to the country from which they are derived, but simply serves to indicate that they are taken from the tree at a particular time in accordance with the habit observed in the respective countries. The mode of preparing the olives as they reach us is as follows: They have been gathered when green, and soaked first of all in strong lye—that is, water saturated with alkaline salt, obtained by steeping wood ashes in the former. They are next soaked in fresh water to remove the somewhat acrid and bitter taste, and are then bottled in a solution of salt and water. Ordinarily they are presented at table in a dish or other suitable vessel, with a little of the liquid in which they have been preserved. In conclusion it may be added that olives form an historical dish, for we are told that the supper of Milton the poet consisted usually of bread and butter and olives.
Tea, with which we are all so familiar, is in reality a number of dried rolled leaves of the tea plant, Camellia Thea, cultivated chiefly in China and the contiguous countries. It is used excessively throughout Australasia—for has it not been shown that our four million people use more of this beverage than the millions who inhabit Continental Europe, if Russia be excepted? This fact is much to be deplored, for when taken in excess it causes severe functional derangement of the digestive organs, and prejudicially affects the nervous system. The gentler sex are greatly given to extravagant tea-drinking, exceeding all bounds of moderation in this respect. Many of them, moreover, live absolutely on nothing else but tea and bread and butter. What wonder, then, that they grow pale and bloodless; that their muscles turn soft and flabby; that their nervous system becomes shattered; and that they suffer the agonies of indigestion? Their favourite time for a chat and the consumption of tea is at any period between ten o’clock in the morning and three in the afternoon. Now, if there is anything of which I am certain, it is that tea in the middle of the day, say from ten o’clock to three, is a deadly destructive fluid. And I am equally certain, too, that innumerable numbers of young girls employed in business do themselves an irreparable amount of injury by making their mid-day meal consist of nothing else but tea and a little bread and butter. There is no nourishment whatever in such fare, and it inevitably leads to the bad symptoms already detailed and general unhealthiness, if not to the onset of graver disease. No, they require something which is nutritious, such as a little warm soup of some kind, a modicum of bread, and say two different varieties of vegetables to follow. Of course this may be extended to include pudding, stewed fruit, &c., but the former is ample enough in many respects. This is a very important matter to which the attention of proprietors and managers of large establishments, factories, and other places employing many female hands might well be directed. And, moreover, if ever there was an opportunity for an active organization to achieve really valuable work, it would be in seeing that our city girls had something better to eat in the middle of the day than tea and bread and butter.
As in every other case, however, there is all the difference in the world between the use of anything and its abuse. It is wrong to assume that, because a great deal of something is injurious, a small quantity judiciously employed is equally pernicious. And so it is even in the case of tea, for it is not to be denied that a fragrant cup of tea is very agreeable. As Dr. Vivian Poore most appropriately remarked in reply to the argument that the lower animals did not require tea, coffee, &c.: “We are not lower animals; we have minds as well as bodies; and since these substances have the property of enabling us to bear our worries and fatigues, let us accept them, make rational use of them, and be thankful.” Of course everything hinges upon the correct interpretation of the terms “small” quantity, and “judiciously” employed. It may be said, however, that the drinking of large cups of tea is never to be sanctioned under ally circumstances whatever. It should rather be looked upon as a delicate fluid to be imbibed only in very small quantities. It should certainly not be used in the middle of the day, between those hours which I have specified; nor should it be taken during the evening, for it almost always disturbs the night’s rest.
There was a great controversy as to the proper way of making tea in the medical papers not very long ago. It is of course a perennial topic, and always excites considerable interest. This particular discussion began in this way. A new tea-pot, called the anti-tannic tea-pot, appeared on the scene, and was favoured with a long description by the BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL. It was claimed for this special model that it extracted only the theine, and not the tannin from the tea. Now, as a matter of fact, it is simply impossible to make tea, no matter how it is made, entirely free from tannin. It is quite true that many suppose by infusing the tea for a very brief period only—two or three minutes —the passage of the tannin into the beverage can be prevented, but, as Sir William Roberts has pointed out, this is quite a delusion. Tannin is one of the most soluble substances known, and melts in hot water just as sugar does. Tea made experimentally, by pouring boiling water on the dry leaves placed on filter paper, contains tannin. As Sir William remarks, you can no more have tea without tannin, than you can have wine without alcohol.
Nevertheless, it is a fact that this anti-tannic tea-pot has many excellent points about it, and is sure to meet with favour. It is really an attempt to make tea by a more certain method than is generally employed; for I think it must be admitted that the present happy-go-lucky style has not much to recommend it. On one occasion the tea will be excellent—and on another either as weak as water, or with such a sharp acrid taste that it is almost undrinkable. In the latter case the tea has been allowed to soak so long that it has become a decoction instead of an infusion. The consequence of this prolonged action of the hot water on the tea is that it brings out the bitter extractive material of the plant, and it is this which proves so particularly pernicious. Tea at sea is proverbially unpalatable, and invariably disagrees, owing chiefly to the fact that it is a boiled decoction of tea leaves and nothing else.
Coffee is the roasted and ground product of the seeds found within the fruit of a tree, the Coffea Arabica. Originally a native of Abyssinia, it was transported into Arabia at the beginning of the fifteenth century. Since then it has been widely cultivated in the West Indies, in Ceylon, and in other warm countries. The fruit itself much resembles a small cherry in size and appearance, and usually contains two small seeds—the coffee beans themselves. The choicest coffee is the mocha or Arabian coffee, and the bean is very small. Of the West Indian varieties, the Jamaica and the Martinique coffee are the best. The exhilarating and agreeable properties of coffee are dependent in great part upon three active principles which it contains. The first of these is caffeine, which is almost identical in composition with, and practically the same as, the theine present in tea. Next there are the volatile oils, developed by roasting, from which coffee derives its aroma. Indeed, as far as they are concerned, there are many who believe that these ethereal oils have more to do with the characteristic properties of coffee than even the caffeine itself. And, lastly, there are the acids known as caffeo-tannic and caffeic acids, which are modified forms of tea tannin. They exist to a far less extent, however, than does the tannin in tea.
Coffee has a decidedly stimulating effect upon the nervous system; so much so that in France it has been called UNE BOISSON INTELLECTUELLE (an intellectual beverage), from its stimulating all the functions of the brain. Not so long ago a writer, Dr. J. N. Lane, in the BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL gave some interesting, information with respect to coffee and brain work. As the result of his own experience he recommended “a cup of strong coffee, without cream or sugar, preceded and followed by a glass of hot water every morning before breakfast. The various secretions are thus stimulated, the nerve force aroused, no matter how the duties of the preceding day and night may have drawn upon the system. Another cup at four in the afternoon is sufficient to sustain the energies for many hours.” It is only fair to add, however, that the JOURNAL went on to remark that in this way some 50 grains of caffeine would be taken each week, and that very little more might develop injurious symptoms, so that the power of doing an illimitable amount of work would be obtained under somewhat risky conditions.
One of its most remarkable effects is that of relieving the feeling of fatigue or exhaustion, whether this be produced by brain work or bodily labour. It enables the system also to bear up under an empty stomach and when the supply of food is shortened. In this way it is of signal value to the soldier in the field. Professor E.A. Parkes, all admitted authority on these matters, bears testimony to the fact that in military service it invigorates the system and is almost equally useful against both cold and heat—against cold by reason of its warmth, and against heat by its action on the skin. It appears, also, to do sway with the need for sleep, probably from its arousing the mental faculties, and the effect of a strong cup of coffee in inducing wakefulness is well known. Coffee has, moreover, a distinct action on the heart, and tends to strengthen it. The Germans are great believers in its virtues, and Vogel, one of the principal authorities on diseases of children, recommends it for them, mixed with cream, both as a food and as a tonic.
In addition to the foregoing, coffee is also employed by reason of its important medicinal virtues. In malarious countries a cup of hot strong coffee, in the early morning, is regarded as a preventive against fever and ague. It is a valuable agent in many cases of heart disease, particularly when associated with dropsy. In Bright’s disease of the kidneys, where dropsy is present, it is likewise given with benefit. Strong coffee is also a well-known remedy in asthma, both in relieving the actual attack and in acting as a restorative after it is over. It frequently gives great relief in many forms of nervous headache, particularly in that variety known as migraine, in which the pain is generally limited to one side of the head. And, lastly, coffee is a valuable remedy in opium poisoning, where there is such a tendency to a fatal coma.
From the foregoing it must be evident that coffee occupies a very high position as a beverage. All that concerns its preparation, therefore, is of undoubted interest. In the first place, to obtain coffee in perfection it is indispensable that the beans be roasted at home, and not only should the roasting be done in the house, but the operation ought really to be performed immediately before the coffee is made, and the reasons thereof I shall give in speaking of the process of roasting. Many people do not care sufficiently about the perfection of coffee to go to this trouble, and are content with having their roasted coffee beans sent to them daily from their grocer. The leading establishments roast their coffee beans daily, and from them the latter may be obtained and ground in the mill at home. This, of course, though not giving the real thing, is an immense improvement on the hallowed tradition, so dear to some, of purchasing their weekly supply of,,round coffee at a time and keeping it in a tin or vessel for use as required. But, as I said before, if perfection is aimed at, the roasting must be done at home.
In the selection of the green beans care should be taxiway to see that they are nearly all of the same size, for if some are small and others large, when it comes to roasting it will be found that the small ones are done to a cinder, while the larger beans are hardly touched. The beans, too, should be perfectly dry; if moist, they should be dried in a dish by the fire or in the oven before going into the roaster. On the coffee plantations the drying of the bean is considered a most important matter when preparing them for export.
In the process of roasting, a volatile oil which gives to coffee its unique fragrance is developed. It is somewhat curious that no amount of boiling could educe this from the raw bean. This oil is exceedingly volatile, and begins to disperse and evaporate the very moment it is born. Hence, to obtain the perfection of coffee, no time should be lost in grinding and making it directly it is roasted. When the fragrant vapour of the roasted bean is first given off, it is soon followed by a peculiar noise, caused by the splitting and crackling of the external silvery greenish covering of the raw beans. At this time, or very shortly afterwards, the latter are of a yellowish hue, but before long they change into that desirable lightish brown colour, when the peculiar volatile coffee oils are at their best.
The best mill for grinding the coffee, and one which may be obtained from any ironmonger, is that which can be screwed on the edge of the kitchen table or dresser. It has a little contrivance to regulate the size of the grains. and care must be taken not to grind the coffee too fine; it should be in minute crumbs rather than in powder.
As I have already said, the perfection of coffee is only to be obtained under three conditions. These are, first, that the beans should be roasted at home; that they should be ground without much delay; and, thirdly, made into coffee as soon as possible. Many people are, however, unable to carry out the first of these three requirements. The next best substitute is to have the roasted coffee beans sent daily to them by their grocer. This is a practice which might be followed more frequently with a great deal of advantage, for all are able, at least, to possess a mill and grind their own coffee at home.
The making of the coffee is quite as important as the preceding, and the number of different models of coffee-makers is almost perplexing. But of them all, the one which is simplest, and perhaps most effective, is the ordinary CAFETIERS, or French coffee-pot. This has the advantage of costing only a few shillings, and is readily obtainable from any ironmonger. It consists of an upper compartment in which the coffee is made, and a lower part—the coffee-pot itself—into which the coffee descends. These two portions are quite separate, although the upper fits on the lower. The floor—on which the coffee is placed—of the upper part is perforated by a number of minute holes There is also a movable strainer about an inch in depth, which fits on top of the upper part; and a presser, consisting of a long rod with a circular plate at its end, which for convenience passes through the centre of the strainer, and rests on the perforated floor of the upper part.
There are one or two points to be borne in mind in the making of coffee. As a rule English-speaking people do not allow enough coffee to each cup. The almost universal fault of coffee, made elsewhere than on the Continent, is its want of strength and flavour. With regard to the admixture of chicory, this is largely a question of taste, and the palate must be consulted in the matter. The great majority of people, however, cannot do without it, and it is quite (when genuine) a harmless addition. Madame Lebour–Fawssett recommends the following proportions: For making CAFE NOIR, or coffee after meals, there should be six teaspoonsful of coffee, heaped up, and a very small teaspoonful of chicory, or none at all, for one pint of water. The chicory must be left out altogether, and another teaspoonful of coffee substituted for those who object to chicory with their CAFE NOIR. For morning coffee or cafe au lait there should be ten or twelve teaspoonsful of coffee, with a sixth part of chicory, for each pint of water. As Madame Lebour–Fawssett remarks, CAFE AU LAIT is never complete without chicory, but care should be taken not to overdo it, since too much chicory renders the coffee quite undrinkable. Of course, if you do not require as much as a pint of coffee, the quantities may be reduced, still observing the same proportions. Before pouring out the coffee, the cup should first be half filled with hot milk, and then the coffee added.
Now, having seen what proportions of coffee and chicory are to be employed for CAFE NOIR and CAFE AU LAIT respectively, it will be better to describe the actual making of the coffee, since the CAFETIERE will then be more easily understood. We will suppose its upper part is fitted into its place on the top of the lower portion, and that the strainer and presser have been removed for the time being. Enough boiling water should first of all be poured in to fill both the upper and lower compartments, allowed to stand for a couple of minutes, and then poured away. This brings everything to a proper heat for receiving the coffee.
Next put the amount of coffee necessary upon the perforated floor of the upper part. The coffee should then be well pressed down with the presser, and the latter instrument next laid aside. After this the strainer should be replaced on top of the upper compartment, and the required amount of boiling water, a little at a time, poured in through it (the strainer). The object of pouring in the boiling water slowly is to give it time to percolate through the densely pressed coffee lying on the floor of the upper part. There is a little tin cover fitting over the spout of the lower compartment, which should be adjusted to keep in the steam. The whole may then be set aside for a few minutes, and when the coffee has passed into the lower part, it is ready for use. With a little practice, and by paying attention to these details, the most perfect coffee may be made.
In Australia some reference to the subject of iced drinks is necessarily required, for they are in great request during the hot season. There is a considerable amount of diversity of opinion as to their good and bad effects, but it will be found that the experience of most medical men is that when used in moderation they greatly relieve thirst and are not injurious. This, indeed, is my own belief, and were it not for the abuse of iced drinks, the same opinion would be held almost universally. America is the country of countries in which the inordinate use of ice has gained for it a reputation which it has never deserved. Ice, says George Augustus Sala, is the alpha and omega of social life in the United States. At the hotels, first-class or otherwise, the beverage partaken of at dinner is mostly iced water. Every repast, in fact, begins and ends with a glass of iced water. When consumed in this way it is no wonder that it often disagrees, and that ice-water dyspepsia is a definite malady in America. And more than this, imagine carrying the employment of ice to such an extent that it culminates in that gastronomical curiosity, a BAKED ICE! The “Alaska” is a BAKED ICE, of which the interior is an ice cream. This latter is surrounded by an exterior of whipped cream, made warm by means of a Salamander. The transition from the hot outside envelope to the frozen inside is painfully sudden, and not likely to be attended with beneficial effect. But the abuse of a good thing is no argument whatever against its use in a moderate and rational manner.
It will be desirable, however, to see what is believed in India about iced drinks, for it will be something of a guide for us in Australia. There are two authorities in particular who have been already referred to, and who have written on this matter in its application to India. The first of these is Sir James Ranald Martin, who had twenty-two years experience there in different parts, and is therefore entitled to be listened to. He says that ice is a matter of necessity in the East, and quotes Dolomieu, who observes of iced drinks that “they revive the spirits, strengthen the body, and assist the digestion.”
There is also that other great name, that of Sir Joseph Fayrer, who is most competent to speak on Indian matters. In setting forth rules for the guidance of those who purpose living in India, he remarks that iced water may be drunk with impunity there; that he has no recollection of seeing any one suffer from drinking iced water or iced soda water in a hot climate; and that in the great heat it is good, since it tends to keep down the body temperature. When the system is prostrated by the sun or extreme heat, or exhausted by physical or intellectual exertion in a hot and damp atmosphere, he believes that a glass of iced water slowly swallowed is far more refreshing than the iced brandy, or whisky peg, or draught of beer, too frequently indulged in under such circumstances.
The different writers on food and dietetics, who have given considerable attention to the same subject, are almost unanimous in their opinion to the same effect. There will be no occasion to refer to all of them, but three at least deserve a brief mention. Dr. Burney Yeo has recently observed that iced water, when taken in small quantities, is refreshing and cooling, and likewise stimulates the digestive functions. On the other hand, it is certainly injurious when taken in inordinate amount. According to Dr. T. King Chambers, cool drinks are beneficial to the stomach in hot weather, since they help to reduce the increased temperature to which the over-heated blood has brought it. Ice, moreover, is a valuable addition to the dietary both of the sick and of the healthy. There is one caution to be observed, however, and it is that ice is injurious when the system is exhausted after violent exercise. And lastly, Dr. Milner Fothergill believes the craving for cool drinks during the hot weather is such, that there is evidently some irrepressible desire to be satisfied. He even writes that in his opinion the dyspepsia of Americans is not entirely due to the free use of iced water, but that there are other causes which help to bring it about.
But while all this is greatly in favour of the moderate use of iced drinks, the purity of the source from which the ice is obtained is also a matter of the highest importance. Ice is not ice when the water from which it is derived is impure. There was an outbreak of sickness amongst the visitors at one of the large hotels at Rye Beach, a watering-place in America, one summer. The symptoms were an alarming disturbance of the with severe pain, great feverishness, and depression of spirits. It was found that the ice which occasioned this outbreak had been taken from a stagnant pond containing a large amount of decomposing matter. A portion of it was carefully melted, and was found to contain a considerable quantity of decaying vegetable matter. In the case of artificial ice, the question of purity is even more important. The reason for this is that the water used in the manufacture of artificial ice is usually frozen solid, and whatever substances, consequently, are dissolved in the water remain in the ice itself.
Five out of every six male adults smoke, whether it be cigarette, cigar, or pipe. That is, in a gathering of, say, 600 men, 500 will be smokers and 100 non-smokers. At least, this is the estimated proportion in the old country. In Australia the ratio is about the same, but the average amount of tobacco used by every smoker is greater. According to Mr. T. A. Coghlan in his WEALTH AND PROGRESS OF NEW SOUTH WALES, the annual consumption of tobacco in Australia for each inhabitant is 3 lbs. all but a fraction. For the United Kingdom the corresponding amount is 1.41 lbs.; and for the United States of America, 4.40 lbs. Italy, it would seem, consumes in the same way 1.34 lbs.; France, 2.05 lbs.; Germany, 3 lbs.; Austria, 3.77 lbs.; Turkey, 4.37 lbs.; while Holland reaches the excessive amount of 6.92 lbs. Of the five colonies of Australia, namely, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and West Australia, the use of tobacco is greatest in the latter two; the figures for Queensland being 3.53 lbs., and for West Australia 4.11 lbs.
With regard to the effect of tobacco on the human system, it will perhaps be most convenient to make a division into the following three classes. In the first place there are a certain number of people upon whom tobacco in any shape or form has an absolutely poisonous influence. There must be some peculiar susceptibility of the system in their case which renders them especially vulnerable to its action. On this account, therefore, they are better without tobacco at all, and any attempt to habituate themselves to it must be attended with prejudice to health. Secondly, there are many other people who can only use tobacco in its very mildest forms. They may be able to smoke a few cigarettes daily, perhaps only three or four; if they indulge in a cigar, it must be one of the mildest; if a pipe, the tobacco will have to be the very lightest. Anything exceeding their allowance is an excess for which they are obliged to pay the penalty. Then, again, there is a third class who can enjoy tobacco in moderation. But these are the very people who are most apt to abuse their privilege. And although they do not recognise it at once, the effect of their excessive smoking is bound to assert itself at last, and compel them to curtail their allowance. If those in the second category, who can enjoy the mildest tobacco in the smallest quantities, and those in the third, who can smoke in moderation, were never to exceed their proper amount, no very great harm would follow. But it most frequently happens that both overstep their respective bounds, and the result is injury to health.
The tobacco plant, NICOTIANA TOBACUM, belongs to the order Solanaceae, which also includes belladonna, capsicum, henbane, and likewise the common potato. Its active principle, an alkaloid—nicotine or nicotia —is combined with a vegetable acid. Some of the alkaloids, such as morphine, strychnine, &c., are crystalline in character, but this, along with a few others, is liquid. A single drop of it is fatal to the smaller animals, a cat or Even as it is, the first smoke usually produces characteristic results. There is generally pallor of the face, nausea, and vomiting. Usually a cold, clammy sweat breaks out, and the heart seems as if it were about to stop. The system, however, gradually becomes habituated to its action, and these symptoms do not reappear. Seeing that this somewhat unpleasant apprenticeship is uncomplainingly served, it is evident that in smoking there must be some powerful attraction. There are many, indeed, who persist in it when it is doing them an inconceivable amount of injury.
It is a fortunate thing that almost all of the nicotine passes off, or is burnt up, or else the effect would be more markedly disastrous. But the pleasurable effects of tobacco are derived in great part from the volatile alkaloids formed during combustion. The alkaloids which develop during the smoking of a pipe are entirely different from those of a cigar. In a pipe, according to Vold and Eulenburg, the tobacco yields a very much larger proportion of volatile bases, especially of the very volatile and stupefying pyridine. On the other hand, a cigar produces but little pyridine, but more of the less active collidine. It is well known that very much stronger tobacco can be smoked as a cigar than as a pipe. As a matter of fact a cigar which could be enjoyed as a cigar, would cause sickness if cut up into small pieces and smoked in a pipe. This pyridine to which reference has just been made has lately been brought forward as a remedy for asthma. Now, the effect of tobacco in cutting short an attack of this latter malady is, at times, very marked. And Professor See, the eminent French physician, believes that the pyridine is the relieving agent.
In the earlier part of this section I have attempted to form a provisional classification of people as far as the effect of tobacco is concerned. Firstly, those upon whom tobacco in any shape or form is an absolute poison; secondly, those who can enjoy a very small amount-daily; and thirdly, those who are able to smoke in moderation. Now, while those who use tobacco with wise discretion appear to be none the worse for it, yet it unfortunately happens that far too frequently there is no limit to this discretion. It is too often the case, therefore, that quite a serious amount of damage to health results from excessive smoking. It requires a good deal of judgment, and even more resolution, to use and not abuse tobacco.
There are certain symptoms which should lead a man either to curtail his allowance, or else give up tobacco altogether. These are marked nervousness, trembling of the whole body, unsteadiness of the hands, and twitching of different muscles. There may be also swimming of the head, severe headache, and a feeling of despondency. In other cases there may be irritability of temper, a want of will determination, and progressive loss of memory. The special senses—sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch—may all be blunted. The Bight and hearing are often markedly affected. Colour blindness is sometimes a result, and there may be that impairment of vision known tobacco AMBLYOPIA. As regards the hearing, too, there is not unfrequently a drumming in the ears and confusion of sounds.
And more than this, tobacco, when unsuitable or used in excess, has other prejudicial effects. Its action on the heart is well known, and is frequently manifested by violent palpitation and by disturbed action of the heart. There is also a definite disorder known as “the smoker’s heart.” In this affection the beats, instead of being regular, are very rapid, suddenly becoming very slow. In this way the rhythm of the heart has been aptly compared by Dr. Lauder Brunton to a restive horse, who goes into a gallop for a few yards, next pulls up all at once, and then breaks off into a gallop again. When tobacco has these prejudicial effects upon the heart, it is no good diminishing the allowance. The only way to bring about any good result is to knock it off altogether.
In addition to its direct action on the heart, tobacco smoking may also bring on a sudden fainting, in which there is absolutely no warning. This condition may develop from the tobacco alone, but in many instances nervous excitement or shock are superadded. Professor Fraser, of Edinburgh, has observed that quite a number of his college friends, who smoked to an inordinate extent as students, were obliged to give up tobacco as middle age approached. Several of them had to do so on account of the onset of these sudden fainting fits. Many smokers also suffer from what is termed chronic pharyngitis. In this affection the mucous membrane at the back part of the mouth looks like dirty-red velvet, and there is also a constant hawking of phlegm. And further, indigestion itself is in many eases entirely due to excessive smoking, from which there is no relief except by abandoning the habit altogether.
But even when tobacco does not produce such marked ill effects, it is as well to remember that it has always a definite action from a gastronomic point of view. And it is this, that directly after the first draw of a cigarette, cigar, or pipe, the palate loses its delicacy of perception. As Sir Henry Thompson remarks, after smoke the power to appreciate good wine is lost, and no judicious host cares to open a fresh bottle from his best bin for the smoker. This is perfectly true; under such circumstances valuable wine would simply be thrown away. But, on the other hand, there is an unquestionable sympathy between coffee and tobacco, and a cup of Mocha blends harmoniously with choice Latakia. This is well recognised in the East; and throughout the Continent coffee and temperate habits go hand in hand with the cigar or cigarette. We must also agree with Sir Henry when he declares that smoke and alcoholic drinks are only found associated together in Great Britain and other northern nations, where there are to be found the most insensitive palates in Europe. It is a good thing, therefore, that the habits followed here are unknown to him, or else Australia would certainly have had a rap over the knuckles.