Popular Science Monthly/Volume 14/April 1879/Dietetic Curiosities I

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DIETETIC CURIOSITIES.
By FELIX L. OSWALD, Ph.D., M. D.
I.

"MAN is what he eats" (Der Meusch ist was er isst) is a German proverb, the propriety of which may be chiefly alliterative, though the apothegm of our greatest English physician goes even further: "If we could solve the problem of diet," Dr. Radcliffe tells us, "it would almost amount to the rediscovery of paradise. Wrong eating and drinking, and the breathing of vitiated air (which is gaseous food), these form the triple fountain-head of nearly all our diseases and our misery."

Even a great doctor is fallible, especially on his hobby, but it is not easy to deny the importance of a subject which can assert itself by such dire argumenta ad hominem as dyspepsia, congestive chills, and other penalties that follow swifter now than in old times on any violation of the physical laws of God. Love of health or fear of sickness (which differ as ancient from modern civilization) has always made the question of diet one of primary interest; yet there is certainly none about which doctors disagree more widely. It is amusing to compare the different food-theories which have been cherished like plans of salvation since the fighting of un-nature first became a science. If contradictory tenets imply error, we surely are further from unitary truth here than anywhere except in the Babel of speculative theology; and even there only dogmatic assertion, but not inconsistency, could ever go further. Just compare the gospel of Pythagoras with that of Dr. Brown, the Berwick prophet. Abstinence from wine—alcoholic stimulants, we would say at present—and from all animal food is the keystone of the Pythagorean system, which also denounced the shedding of blood, and recommended the use of "food which needs no cooking"—fruit, nuts, honey, milk, and the like. But John H. Brown, M. D., divides all possible states of health into the "sthenic and asthenic conditions," the first to be toned down by bleeding, cathartics, etc., the second to be rallied by a liberal use of brandy and strong meats, which in more moderate quantities are to constitute our normal food, while all raw vegetable products are to be avoided, especially "acid and subacid fruit."

Is there a greater antagonism in all the toto-cœlo distance from Odin to Mother Ann Lee? If either was right, the other must have been portentously wrong; yet the school of Berwick, not less than that of Samos, counted its disciples by tens of thousands. Again, is there an hygienic tenet which seems more incontrovertible to us than the propriety of the three daily meals? Yet the Romans of the ante-Cæsarean era, who as physical beings were so strangely superior to us, restricted themselves to a single meal in the twenty-four hours, for which they chose the very time when we dread repletion most—the end of the day, the hour between sunset and darkness.

Moses transmits from the lips of Jehovah his by-laws against pork and rabbit-flesh, and we know how many of his followers preferred death to the obnoxious diet, but our Saxon forefathers exalted the pigs' feet of Valhalla as the supreme reward of heroic virtue, and, dying, the Baresark could grin through his tortures at the thought of celestial spareribs. Charlemagne, when informed that his life depended on a change of régime, declared that if he could purchase immortality by absenting himself from the customary tri-weekly barbecues, he would think the price too high. He may have doubted the efficacy of the sacrifice, but the Mingrelian ambassadors, after receiving Abu-Hassan's stern ultimatum, "Islam or the sword!" informed him that, however willing they might be to propitiate the wrath of Allah, the national assembly preferred war and pork to peace without it.

Thales considered water as the summum bonum, and many of his teachings seem to anticipate the hydropathic school and our temperance dogmas; but Paracelsus proclaimed to the world that he had found the true panacea and the elixir of life by the discovery of alcohol, and seems to have been only too successful in his propaganda. "He finds believers who himself believes"; and Paracelsus certainly proved personal confidence in his doctrine by swallowing (in the city of Salzburg, 1541), as the "grand quintessence of life," a five-pint bottle of alcohol, which it had taken him two months to distill. The funeral was very impressive, as the Salzburg chronicle thinks it necessary to observe. We know that our North American Indians are purely carnivorous, and persistently neglect all opportunities of enlarging their menu; also, that white men who voluntarily or otherwise shared their fortune and potluck for a few years, refused to rejoin Caucasia afterward. Similar stories were told in ancient Greece of the Lotophagi (lotus-eaters), a people of peculiar habits, who boasted that any stranger living among them for a little while would rather resign kinsmen and country than leave them again, only with this difference: the magnetism and the name of the Lotophagi were derived from their diet of lotus-leaves—they were strict vegetarians.

With every allowance for a possible diversity of constitutions, generic differences, and the modifying influence of climate, the subject still presents enigmas which almost force upon us the conclusion so fiercely rejected by Jean Jacques Rousseau, that nature and habit are interchangeable terms. Two hundred million Hindoos abstain from the use of animal food, by behest of Vishnu, as they say; by necessity of climate, as we explain it. But the inhabitants of Southern Africa, in defiance of Vishnu and climate, gorge themselves with meat as often as they can procure it, and with perfect impunity, it seems.

"Meat," says Professor von Liebig, "is preëminently the muscle forming food; hence the difference between the stout Briton and the lean Spaniard, the delicate Hindoo and the robust Ethiopian." But the Lesghian mountaineers and the box-carriers of Constantinople, though not vegetarians by principle, subsist chiefly on fruit and farinaceous food, and it so happens that every other man of them can shoulder a load that would task the combined strength of the stout Briton and robust Ethiopian. The powerful arms and the ponderous, leonine bearing of the occasional Turks who visit the fairs of Vienna and Buda-Pesth are a fine practical argument in favor of temperate habits; yet their rivals in strength, the iron-fisted Bauern of Upper Austria and the Bavarian highlands, are notorious for their abject worship of beer.

But, for all that, it would be wrong to abandon the hope of rediscovering paradise by Dr. Radcliffe's road. Whatever may be the right way, we can not afford to swerve from it, least of all consciously, and that we are astray at present is most distressingly probable. Dr. Boerhaave reminds us that there are certain maxims of health, so clearly pointed out by a priori reasoning, that we can not be too cautious in the acceptance of contradictory evidence.

"For instance, the exceptional cases of robust health in conjunction with habits denounced as injurious by all analogy ought to make us inquire how this impunity is earned; which strong protector of health could overcome such an enemy. For there is such a thing as vicarious atonement in physiology. Athletic sports, fatiguing rides on horseback, and any long-continued exercise in open air, seem to grant a long immunity from the effects of vicious diet; and it seems that there is a peptic stimulus in mountain air and the climate of a high latitude."

The kitchen-reformers of England and North America seem united on the question of alcohol only, but contradict each other and sometimes themselves in their food-theories and general toxicology. The hygienic system of Dio Lewis embraces the vegetarian, total abstinence, and hydropathic dogmas, but in consistent logic and ingenuity is far surpassed by that of Schrodt, the Swiss dietist.

In his "Natur-Heilkunde," Schrodt distinguishes between natural, artificially adapted, and unnatural or wholly injurious articles of food. "Our natural food," he says (like Pythagoras), "are such vegetable and semi-animal products as either are or can he eaten and relished raw, and without the preliminaries of cooking and spicing. Such are milk, honey, eggs, nuts, cereals, a few roots, legumina, and gums, and the countless variety of fruit, which are man-food par excellence. Our various kinds of bread, though artificially prepared, as well as other farinaceous dishes, are derived from an edible grain which is neither repulsive nor indigestible in its original state.

"To the second or adapted edibles belong different vegetables which are rendered palatable only by the process of cooking, as cabbage, beans, peas and lentils, and various roots and leaves. Flesh, also, I will add to this list, though some would place it in the third class. Injurious, without a redeeming quality, are all narcotic and alcoholic drinks, and all ardent spices, such as pepper, mustard, and acid fluids; also those partly decayed and acid substances whose properties are more stimulating than nourishing: strong cheese, sauerkraut, and pickles."

This system is based on the idea that an unvitiated taste is a sufficient criterion of healthfulness in food, and that to the palate of a child all wholesome substances are agreeable, all injurious ones repulsive. "A taste for the so-called articles of diet embraced in my third class," says Herr Schrodt, "is always artificially and painfully acquired. No man of veracity or memory will tell me that he liked cheese or brandy at first." In accounting for the prevalence of stimulation and intemperance among seemingly healthy nations, he too falls back on vicarious atonement by otherwise salutary habits.

Viewed in the light of Dr. Boerhaave's theory, the gastronomic exploits of ancient and modern savages may gain an additional interest. How desirable it would be to know by which vicarious virtue his Majesty the Emperor Vitellius could atone for the often-repeated sin of devouring three brace of peacocks at a sitting, which Suetonius assures us did not prevent him from appearing in the palestra an hour afterward and joining in the games which were prolonged by torchlight toward the morning hour! Vendôme, the champion of France and the one strategic peer ever opposed to Marlborough, was as formidable at the mess-table as on the battle-field. He would gorge himself till his joints commenced to tremble and the oppression of his chest threatened him with asphyxia. Woe to the waiter or messmate who offended him by word or want of attention in such moments! A fierce blow, a hurled tumbler, or a tremendous kick were the mildest expressions of his impatience. After the defeat of Oudenarde he saved the French army by a masterly retreat that kept him in the saddle for two days and two nights, and then restored himself, not by sleep, but by sitting down to a banquet of sixteen hours, during which he incorporated as many pounds of mutton-pie, if we may believe Chateaubriand.

Calmucks, according to Mr. Schuyler, will travel a hundred miles to stuff themselves with horseflesh at somebody else's expense; and Gordon Gumming mentions a family of Zulu-Caffres—a man, two wives, and four children—who, between noon and sunset, disposed of all the meat, marrow, and intestines of a large zebra, and during the following night picked the bones in a way which only an army of ants could emulate. Vambéry speaks of a Tartar courier, named Thuy-Kasr, who boasted of having eaten, "unassisted and without employment of witchcraft," a large skinful of raisins and a middle-sized pig, leaving nothing but bristles and a few of the larger bones; and once, within fifty hours, even a goat with two kids, together with a bag of dried figs and deep potions of koumiss or fermented mare's milk. Thuy-Kasr must have known the secret of Apicius, "which enabled the adept to prolong his appetite for two days and a night." But such Tartars are not the exclusive product of Central Asia. James Halpin, a Yorkshire man, who exhibited himself in Manchester and other English cities during the first years of this century, thought nothing of eating a dozen pigeons, bones, feathers and all; swallowed trout and larger fishes alive, and won a wager by devouring within two hours all the edibles, including half a cheese and a large quantity of pickles, on a table that had been set for eight persons!

Joseph Kolnicker, born 1809 in Passau, southern Germany, who served as a private soldier for a couple of years, had to be discharged before the expiration of his term on account of his appalling appetite. He would devour raw potatoes, horse-turnips, cabbages in the garden, could empty basketfuls of eggs in a few minutes, and, in spite of all precautions, gained admittance to an officer's pantry or the commissary storerooms now and then, and with most deplorable results. He, too, converted his expensive talent into a source of profit by public exhibitions, and won so many incredible bets that, much to his regret, his renown eventually spread like that of the athlete Milo, and nobody dared to challenge him.

But no modern virtuoso can emulate the giants of antiquity. Claudius, Caligula, Domitian, and Heliogabalus, the imperial gluttons, almost exhausted the resources of the Orbis Romanus by their monstrous voracity. Cicero compares the scene after a Roman banquet to a battlefield; and many of the wealthiest patricians were ruined by one or two of those entertainments, to which the above-named potentates had an unpleasant habit of inviting themselves.

The symposia of Apicius lasted from twenty to thirty hours, and his semi-annual state dinners even two days, during which host and guests were restricted to recesses of ten minutes, and etiquette required them to partake of every dish and drink, the quantity being optional, except in regard to certain spiced wines, of which a good-sized jug was de rigueur—a rule which could only be circumvented by liberal libations to the gods. Yet even excess itself was exceeded by the mania of Vitellius, who wasted the yearly revenue of a province on a single banquet, gorged himself for hour after hour without intermission, and, in the words of Tacitus, "unadmonished by the eruptive protests of nature, never thought of yielding while he could see and hear"! He and some of his successors on the throne of gluttony probably owed their immunity to the virtues of a long lineage of frugal ancestors. Italy, truly, is the land of contrasts, of extremes in virtue as well as in vice. The resources wasted on a single day at one of those saturnalia of intemperance would probably have fed a village for a century of the early republican era, and for at least twenty years in our present time of poverty-born frugality. Frugal, in its original sense, meant literally subsisting on fruit in distinction to carnivorous habits, which were thought extravagant. Cyrus, King of Persia, according to Xenophon, was brought up on a diet of water, bread, and cresses, till up to his fifteenth year, when honey and raisins were added; and the family names of the Fabii and Lentuli were derived from their customary and possibly exclusive diet. Eggs and apples, with a little bread, were for centuries the alpha and omega of a Roman dinner; and, in earlier times, even bread and turnips, if not turnips alone, which the patriot Cincinnatus thought sufficient for his wants. It is singular that our temperance societies direct their efforts only against the fluid part of our vicious diet; a league of temperate eaters would certainly find a large field for reform. But in Italy the thing was attempted by Luigi de Cornaro, a Venetian nobleman of the fifteenth century, who restricted himself to a daily allowance of ten ounces of solid food and six ounces of wine, and prolonged his life to one hundred and two years. Though he did not organize his followers into a sect, his example and his voluminous writings influenced the manners of his country for many years. Cornaro would not have gained many converts in Russia and Germany; but throughout southern Europe frugality, in the truest old Latin sense, is by no means rare. Lacour, a Marseilles' longshoreman, earned from ten to twenty francs a day, loaned money on interest and gave alms, but slept at night in his basket, and subsisted on fourteen onions a day, which preserved him in excellent health and humor, but got him the nickname of quatorze oignons.

A pound of bread with six ounces of poor cheese, and such berries as the roadside may offer, constitute the daily ration of the Turkish soldier on the march, and the followers of Don Carlos contented themselves with even less. A correspondent of the "Daily News" was served with a dish of radishes in a Catalan tavern, and ventured the remark that radishes were taken after meals in northern Europe. "You can get some more after finishing these," was the reply. The radishes constituted the dinner.

Not that men should, but that they can, live on bread alone, is abundantly proved by the records of Old-World prisons. Silvio Pellico, the Italian patriot and martyr, subsisted for seven years on coarse rye bread and water, which experience had taught him to prefer to the putrid pork-soup of his Austrian bastile. The prisoners of the Khedive were fed on rice and Indian corn, till the prayers of the French residents and his American officers induced him to sweeten their bitter lot by a weekly bottle of sakarra, or diluted molasses; and I learn from an article in a French journal that some of these unfortunates, who had passed long years without any hint of sakarra, were forced by chronic bowel complaints to return to their old dry fare.

Fedor Darapski, born 1774 in Karskod near Praga, eastern Poland, was brought to the government of Novgorod in his twenty-second year as a conscript to the Russian army, and was soon after sentenced to death for mutiny and assault with intent to kill. The Empress Catharine, acting on a recommendation of the Governor of Novgorod, commuted his sentence to imprisonment for life, but ordered that on every anniversary of the deed (an attempt to kill his colonel) the convict should receive forty lashes and be kept on half rations for a week after; the full ration being two pounds of black bread and a jug of cold water. On these terms Darapski was boarded at the fortress of Kirilov till 1863, when at the approach of his ninetieth birthday he was again recommended to mercy and liberated by order of the present Czar.

Even the story of Nebuchadnezzar may be more than an allegory, as the wild berries, roots, and grass-seeds of the Assyrian valleys contained surely as much nourishment as sour rye-bread; and who knows but grass itself might do for a while, since the Slavonian peasants often subsist for weeks at a time on sauerkraut and cabbage-soup?

Corsican farmers live all winter on dried fruit and polenta (chestnut-meal), and the Moors of mediæval Spain used to provision their fortified cities with chestnuts and olive-oil. During the siege of Lucknow the native soldiers asked that the little rice left be given to their British comrades; as for themselves, they could do with the soup, i. e., the water in which the rice had been boiled!

But the ne plus ultra of abstinence combined with robust strength is furnished in the record of Shamyl, the heroic Circassian, who for the last two years of the war that ended with his capture had nothing but water for his drink and roasted beechnuts for his food, and yet month after month defied the power of the Russian Empire in his native mountains, and repeatedly cut his way through the ranks of his would-be captors with the arm of a Hercules.

The philosophers of antiquity prided themselves on their frugal habits, which ranked next to godliness in their estimation, as expressed in the famous aphorism, "God needs nothing, and he is next to Him who can do with next to nothing"—whose material needs are the smallest. Primitive habits are certainly favorable to independence, especially in a genial climate, where a man is above the fear of tyranny and all social obligations, who like Shamyl can subsist on the spontaneous gifts of his mother Earth. "Do you know," Cyrus asked the ambassador of a luxurious potentate, "how invincible men are who can live on herbs and acorns?" If the Saracens had persisted in the simplicity of their fathers, the nineteenth century might see Moorish kingdoms in southern Europe, and Arabian science and fruit-gardens in the place of deserts and monkish besottedness. Cato needed no prophetic inspiration to predict the downfall of a city where a small fish could fetch a higher price than a fattened ox.

Lycurgus, the Spartan, makes the diet of his countrymen the subject of careful legislation, but seems to have feared excesses in quality rather than in quantity: as long as the black soup and other national dishes remained orthodox in regard to the prescribed simple ingredients, free indulgence of the most exacting appetites was not only permitted but encouraged. At the philosophic reunions of the Lyceum the bill of fare permitted a choice between dried figs and honey-water in addition to the wheat-bread, which could not be refused, and Greece was the model of early Roman institutions in this as well as in other respects. Fruit and bread-cakes, spiced with Attic salt and music, entertained the friends of Plato at those suppers of the gods of three or four hours, which Aristotle preferred to so many years on the throne of Persia; but the very next generation witnessed the drunken riots of Babylon and the general introduction of Persian manners and luxuries.

The ancients undoubtedly were our superiors in hygienic insight, but among the many judicious restrictions of their dietary regimens there are some that we must attribute to prejudice or leave utterly unaccounted for. The Mosaic interdiction of rabbit-flesh, wild swan, and finless fishes has been very learnedly explained as a necessary consequence of general laws, which had to include those animals for the sake of consistency; but what on earth or below earth could induce Pythagoras, the great philosopher, to prohibit the use of beans—nay, even denounce any contact with the shell, the leaves, or the roots of the poor plant as a dreadful pollution? Such was the stigma he had attached to the violation of this rule, we are told, that a body of soldiers from Magna Græcia, who all belonged to the Pythagorean sect, permitted themselves to be cut to pieces or captured rather than save themselves by crossing a bean-field!

The old proverb de gustibus can hardly prevent astonishment at the diversity of tastes. What would Pythagoras have said about our national dish of pork and beans, or what shall we say to explain the Japanese prejudice against milk, the Papuan's partiality for fat white caterpillars, or the gliraria that were attached to every decent household of imperial Rome? Athenæus describes a glirarium as a large brick structure, divided by wire partitions into small cells, from five hundred to two thousand of them; every cell the receptacle of a captive rat, which was fattened on husks, rotten fish, and other offal, till a further increase in bulk would make it difficult to extract the animal through the narrow door of its cage. The perfect specimens were then collected, stuffed with crushed figs, and served in a sauce of olive-oil at the-banquets of wealthy patriots who preferred domestic delicacies to colonial imports. The Digger Indians of our Pacific slope rejoiced in the great locust-swarms of 1875 as in a gracious dispensation of the Great Spirit, and laid in a store of dried locust-powder for years to come. Even mineral substances and strong mineral poisons have their votaries. Mithridates, King of Pontus, could take a large dose of arsenic with impunity, and the mountaineers of Savoy and southern Switzerland use arsenic habitually as a safeguard against pulmonic affections. The poor Norsemen often mix their daily bread with a whitish mineral powder, more from necessity than a vitiated taste, we hope; but a similar substance is employed by the natives of Brazil and other parts of tropical America without any such excuse. The name of Panama is derived from panamante (originally pan-de-monte, mountain-bread), a substance which the Indians of Central America prepared from a mealy gypsum powder, found here and there in the Sierra. Humboldt describes a tribe of Indians in northern Brazil who have been addicted to the use of panamante for generations, and were distinguished by a monstrous protuberance and induration of the upper abdomen. When the French were masters of St. Domingo their negro slaves had contracted a similar passion, and could only be restrained by barbarous punishments from indulging it to excess.

It would be erroneous to suppose that cannibalism has become quite extinct. Among the Dyaks of Borneo there is a recurrence of the outrage after every petty feud and raid, and many of the South Sea Islands are still infested with secret anthropophagi. The Pintos, an aboriginal tribe of Yucatan, have repeatedly been detected in cannibal practices; and phenomenal cases have occurred in Asia after every protracted famine. In 1873 the Chasseurs d'Afrique captured an old Kabyle on the plateau of Sidi-Belbez (Algiers), who had committed innumerable murders to indulge this horrible passion, and had twice been caught in flagrante by his countrymen, who contented themselves with giving him a good hiding the first time, and released him on another occasion when they found his victim had only been a French settler!

The slaughter-houses of every large city are visited by delicate ladies, who hope to cure affections of the respiratory organs by a draught of fresh blood, but who would inspire a Hindoo with a cannibal terror more intense than that produced in the Algerian settlements by the above Kabyle. Herodotus relates that the Scythians executed their criminals by a potion of fresh ox-blood, and recommends this as a more humane method than capital punishment by the sword, though inferior to the hemlock-cup. "For opening the gates of Tartarus," says Haller, "there is nothing like a good narcotic. If I should have occasion to leave this world, I would no more think of shooting myself than of leaving town by being fired from a mortar, when I could take the stage-coach."

The Turks shudder at seeing a Frank swallow oysters, and even in the cities of Europe and North America we find individuals with similar antipathies; and I know an old professor who passed half a century in St. Petersburg, and suffered grievously from an unconquerable aversion to caviare. Caviare is the salted or pickled roe of the sturgeon—not quite so bad as Schnepfendreck, a North German delicacy, which consists chiefly of the fæces of the common woodcock.

Professor H, Letheby, food-analyst for the city of London, is responsible for the following account of a mandarin's dinner, given to an English party and some distinguished natives of Hong-Kong:

The dinner began with hot wine, made from rice, and sweet biscuits of buckwheat. Then followed the first course of custards, preserved rice, fruits, salted earthworms, smoked fish and ham, Japan leather (?) and pigeons' eggs, having the shells softened by vinegar; all of which was cold. After this came sharks' fins, birds' nests, deer-sinews, and other dishes of an appetizing and dainty character. They were succeeded by more solid foods, as rice and curry, chopped bear's paws, mutton and beef cut into small cubes and floating in gravy; pork in various forms, the flesh of puppies and cats boiled in buffalo's milk; shantung or white cabbage and sweet potatoes; fowls split open, flattened and grilled, their livers floating in hot oil, and cooked eggs of various descriptions, containing embryo birds. But the surprise of the entertainment was yet to come. On the removal of some of the flower-vases a large covered dish was placed in the center of the table, and at a signal the cover was removed. The hospitable board immediately swarmed with juvenile crabs, who made their exodus from the vessel with surprising agility, for the crablets had been thrown into vinegar before the guests sat down, and this made them sprightly in their movements; but, fast as they ran, they were quickly seized by the nearest guests, who thrust them into their mouths and crushed them without ceremony, swallowing the strange gelatinous morsel with evident gusto. After this soy was handed round, which is a liquor made from a Japan bean, and is intended to revive the jaded palate. Various kinds of shell and fresh fish followed, succeeded by several thin broths. The banquet was concluded by the costly bird's-nest soup, the dessert being a variety of scorched seeds and nuts, with sundry hot wines and tea.

But the mandarin was astonished in his turn by finding ice-cream among the delicacies of an English refreshment-table, and predicted disastrous consequences from its habitual use. Ice, without doubt, is injurious, but not more unnatural than our custom of swallowing boiling-hot soups and stews.

In the use of hot spices the Spaniards and their South American kinsmen exceed every other nation. Chilé colorado, or red pepper, is one of the mildest condiments of a Peruvian kitchen. The yerba blanca, a whitish-green herb which is used raw with olive-oil on sandwiches, and enters into the composition of various ragouts, is described as resembling the lapis infernalis in its effect on a normal tongue. A Mexican can chew up a handful of red pepper as we would so much dried fruit, and eats onions, garlic, and salted radishes as a relief from more pungent tastes. I must believe it, on the testimony of the entire medical faculty of the city of Bremen, that a man who was treated in their city hospital for a most mysterious complaint settled the dispute of his physicians by confessing a weakness for tan-water—the fiery infusion of tan-bark, in which he had indulged rather to excess in the last year. The inhabitants of southern Russia, especially of the Dnieper Delta, are all day long chewing the aromatic seeds of the sunflower and different kinds of pumpkin-seeds, which appears to be less a stimulation than an idle habit, like the use of chewing gum in our boarding-schools.

Timour the Tartar celebrated his victories by solemn barbecues of broiled horseflesh and fermented mare's milk, or koumiss, which is still a favorite drink of his countrymen. Tartars also use a decoction of the poisonous fly-sponge as a stimulating beverage, and according to Vambéry have a national foible for morsels of superannuated meat, of an aroma which the French term of haut-goút would hardly begin to describe. Yet these same Tartars might shudder at being confronted with a dish of that Limburg delicacy which finds its way into the best hotels of Continental Europe. I can not forget the emphatic protest of a Spanish officer who was invited to partake by a German admirer of the questionable dainty, in the cabin of a Havana steamer. "You think it unhealthy to eat that?" inquired the Hamburger, in polite astonishment. "Unhealthy?" exclaimed the Hidalgo, with a withering look and a gasp for a more adequate word—"no, sir! I think it an unnatural crime!"