Popular Science Monthly/Volume 15/May 1879/Dietetic Curiosities II
By FELIX L. OSWALD, Ph.D., M.D.
WE know from the accounts of Sir John Ross, Captain Kane, and other Arctic explorers, how persistently the Esquimaux prefer walrus-blubber and whale-oil to the most seductive products of the vegetable kingdom, but the fervor of their devotion was only realized by the Rev. Mr. Hansen, the Moravian missionary, who prepared a dying Esquimau for the glories of the New Jerusalem. "I am sure you are right," said the departing brother, "but, tell me, are there many walruses in heaven?" "None at all, as far as I know," Mr. Hansen replied, not without astonishment at the question. The weary eyelids opened to emit a look of intense reproach. "And you couldn't tell me that before? No heaven that for me, then—an Esquimau can not subsist without walrus!"
The peptic stimulus of a high latitude, as recognized by Dr. Boerhaave, may justify such preferences; but Greenlanders, carried down to our temperate climate and even to the eternal summers of Cuba, still insisted on their daily blubber-ration with a firmness worthy of a better cause. Ferdinand Renz, the European Barnum, found it to his advantage to gratify the national taste of his Greenlanders. He had attempted to wean them from their traditional grease, and nearly succeeded, as he flattered himself, when his managers reported an enormous deficit of tallow-candles, which he found had been devoured by the boxful in the silence of night by the bereaved children of the North.
Nowhere is indifference to the quality of food carried further than in the rural districts of Russia. Black, sour bread, salt pork, cabbage, and quass, or fermented cabbage-water, are the nectar and ambrosia of the Slavonic boor, who in times of scarcity will content himself with a diet that would drive Munster and Connaught to desperation. Quass, their popular tipple, is described as resembling a mixture of stale fish and soap-suds in taste, yet has next to beer probably more votaries than any other fermented stimulant.
Assassin, assassinate, and their derivatives come from hasheesh, the Arabian word for hemp. A decoction of hemp-leaves, filtered and boiled down, yields a greenish-black residuum of intensely bitter and nauseous taste—a stuff not very likely, one should think, to tempt a normally constituted human being. Yet this same hasheesh, Dr. Nachtigal assures us, can marshal a larger army of victims than either gunpowder or alcohol; and only the originator of the opium-habit, he thinks, will have an uglier score against him on the day of judgment than the Sheik-al-Jebel, who, tradition says, first introduced the hasheesh-habit.
The effect of this hemp-extract is compared to hydrophobia: its votaries are seized with rage and restlessness, and if the paroxysm is upon them seize a knife, a stone, or anything that will serve for a weapon, and rush out to commit indiscriminate assaults, continuing to "run amuck," as the Malays term it, till the stimulating power of the drug has spent itself, or till their career is stopped by a well-aimed shot. In Batavia and other cities of the Dutch Indies there used to be a standing reward for the slaying of a "muck-runner," but even such a man as Ibrahim Pasha was not ashamed to stimulate the courage of his soldiers by the use of the detestable poison. The hasheesh-habit originated in Asia Minor, but is now practiced throughout northern Africa down to the Abyssinian valleys, and has spread eastward to the Malay Archipelago, and even to Siam, where its further progress was arrested by the determined action of the Siamese Government.
A frugal diet has this additional advantage, that simple food is in less danger of adulteration, or must at least be imitated by equally simple and harmless substitutes. Watered milk or lard mixed with corn-meal is certainly annoying, but hardly injurious, and is a trifle altogether if compared with the abominations that are half consciously consumed by the lovers of imported delicacies and expensive stimulants. Dr. Stenhouse, of Liverpool, analyzed a suspicious sample of tea, with the following result, published in the "Planters' Price Current" of February, 1871: The package contained some pure congou-tea leaves, also siftings of pekoe and inferior kinds, weighing together twenty-seven per cent, of the whole. The remaining seventy-three per cent, were composed of the following adulterants: Iron, plumbago, chalk, china clay, sand, prussian blue, turmeric, indigo, starch, gypsum, catechu, gum, the leaves of the camellia, sarangua, Chlorantes officinalis, elm, oak, willow, poplar, elder, beach, hawthorn, and sloe.
There is hardly any article of food in general use which has not somewhere been converted into a stimulant by the process of fermentation. What else are whisky, rum, beer, etc., but fermented or distilled bread, the bread-corn diverted from its legitimate use to produce an artificial stimulant? Potatoes, sugar, honey, as well as grapes, plums, apples, cherries, and innumerable other fruits, have thus been turned from a blessing into a curse. The Moors of Barbary and Tripoli distill an ardent spirit from the fruit of the date-palm, the Brazilians from the marrow of the sago-tree and from pineapples, and even the poor berries that manage to ripen on the banks of the Yukon have to furnish a poison for the inhabitants of Alaska. Pulque, the national drink of Mexico, is derived from a large variety of the aloe-plant, the sap of which is collected and fermented in buckskin sloughs into a turbid yellowish liquor of most vicious taste.
Cheese, in fact, is nothing but coagulated milk in a more or less advanced state of decay. Sauerkraut is cabbage in the first stage of fermentation, which if completed yields quass, the above-mentioned Russian tonic. Chica, a whitish liquid which in Peru is handed around like coffee after meals, is prepared from maize or Indian corn, moistened and fermented by mastication.
How a fondness for such abominations is propagated can be explained by any boy who had to drink beer or eat strong cheese against his will, and by and by "rather liked it," but a question less easily answered is how such tastes ever could originate. To the first man who tasted hasheesh, alcohol, or pulque, these substances could hardly be more tempting, we should think, than coal-tar or caustic sublimate. But most articles of food and drink are older than history. All we can do is to trace their progress from nation to nation and from century to century, but their origin loses itself in the cloud-land of tradition. The exegesis of diet is as problematic as that of religious dogmas.
Natural characteristics can frequently be traced to an hereditary foible for a special diet. French wits unhesitatingly attribute the têstes carés of their eastern neighbors to the heavy black bread of the land of Thor, and hint strongly that the reticence and stubbornness of John Bull have more to do with his beefsteaks than with mental profundity.
"Alas, how helpless is theology against the diet of bull-beef!" writes Father De Smet in his yearly report from the Sioux missions. It certainly is a suggestive fact that agriculture had to precede Christianity in its conquests over the aboriginal North Americans. Not one of our Indian tribes would renounce the devil and all his works unless we could get them to renounce the buffalo first. I heard a vegetarian lecturer in New Orleans last year, who gave a résumé of the peculiar views of his people, and certainly made out a very strong case in their favor. "The aggressive, the belligerent, and bloodthirsty instincts of all nations," he said, "are exactly equal to the proportion of animal food in their diet. The Hindoos, who like pigeons seem to be 'born without gall,' are vegetarians from birth; so were the Lotophagi of antiquity, who compromised all differences by arbitration. The Malays, who, in the same climate and with the same advantages, make use of animal food, are notoriously cruel and quarrelsome. But in the Indians of North America, who are wholly carnivorous, human nature and native pity seem to have become extinct, and superseded by an artificial instinct of bloodshed which equals that of the most ferocious animals."
The Mexicans distinguish between Indios mansos and Indios bravos—tame and fierce Indians—between whom there seems to be no generic difference; but the eastern tribes are frugivorous, cowardly, and harmless as Hindoos, though in stature and facial characteristics exact copies of their western kinsmen, the flesh-eating Comanches, who in cruelty emulate the pirates of Malacca.
Erasmus complains of the porcine paunches and materialistic tendencies of his countrymen, and warns them that, when eating and drinking have become the objects of life, animalization will speedily follow.
"It was thus," he facetiously remarks, "that Circe changed the companions of Ulysses into pigs."
It is certain that the monastic gluttony of Austria, Bavaria, and the adjoining states, where plethoric convents abound, has developed an unmistakable type of grossness in the characteristic physiognomies of those countries. The ingenium pingue which Ulric Hutten satirizes is still an hereditary affliction in many Catholic districts, and nowhere more than in Austria proper, in Linz and Vienna, where the art of cookery has become the problem of life, and "the instinct of liberty is drowned in sausage-fat."
Abstinent habits, too, begin to set their mark if continued to the second or third generation. The ascetic vigor of Semitic countenances probably dates from the establishment of the Mosaic and Islamitic codes, with their rigid dietetic restrictions, and something in the spiritualistic eyes of the Arabian desert-dwellers suggests the absence of those animal brain-elements which according to Dio Lewis are assimilated like trichinae by the use of pork and beef. But only a French savant can go so far as to reconstruct the entire national history of a race from such physiognomic indications. "The face of a Turk," says M. de Chateaubriand, "shows the high cheekbones and powerful, bone-crushing jaws of the original Turkoman shepherd, improved by a diet of Attic figs and Thessalian grapes, further sweetened by the sherbet and perfumed cakes of Constantinople, and finally clouded by the fumes of opium!"
"There is a sadness in the face of the typical Chinese," writes the Rev. Mr. Gentz, "which now always moves me to infinite pity. At first they were vaguely repulsive to me, these death-head profiles and sad, sunken eyes, but I can interpret them now, and they speak to me of centuries and centuries of dull, hopeless suffering by slavery, poverty, and loathsome or insufficient food." If we believe that Dr. Fowler was able to distinguish the weavers from other operatives of a miscellaneous manufactory, merely by the formation of their heads, we can not consistently call even Chateaubriand a visionary, for "alimentativeness" is one of the recognized organs of the craniological systems. A certain amplitude of the region between the ear and the posterior base of the skull indicates gormandism to the followers of Dr. Gall, and excessive development, therefore, of gluttony and voracity. A happy illustration if not demonstration hereof is the preserved bust of Vitellius, the imperial arch-glutton, whose enormous head seems only a reduced continuation of the still more enormous neck. Lavater, the father of Physiognomy, describes the "Fresser-Falte" or gormand's wrinkle which in his opinion is developed by a certain movement of the cheeks which makes us say, "His mouth waters," and by which he thinks he could detect an Austrian abbot in any disguise.
On the moral effect of sundry articles of food, Dr. Bock, the Leipsic professor, and author of the famous "Buch vom gesunden und kranken Menschen" ("Man in Health and Disease"), discourses as follows: "Flesh-food imparts courage, but also aggressive moods and bad temper, with intervals of gloom and hypochondria; excessive use of pork can produce a mental nausea, known to the Hungarians as the Tzömör, which may lead to insanity and suicide. The ichthyophagous tribes of northern Siberia are rendered stupid and sluggish by an exclusive diet of fish. Fish and fowl in moderate quantities and in combination with vegetable food, produce no appreciable injurious effects. The influence of ripe fruit is benign, exhilarating without the eventual reaction that always follows alcoholic excitement. Milk, too, especially the rich milk of sheep, has an assuaging, mildly cheering effect even on hypochondriacs and dyspeptics. Pure fat of any kind exercises a calming influence on excited passions, but if long continued as an article of diet tends to somnolency and lassitude. Strong cheese operates as a sedative and a check to the activity of the brain-functions—makes us stupid in other words, and can also result in a half-physical, half-psychical dejection not dissimilar to the Tzömör.
"Wheat-bread is neutral, a most excellent though not all-sufficient article of food, and, like a blank sheet of paper, serves as a foil to whatever you may combine it with, while sour rye-bread is a tonic and reacts on the temper in a feeble way. Eggs, raw or soft-boiled, are more nourishing than meat, stimulate muscular activity, and produce reflective rather than vindictive moods. Sugar alone, or preponderating in made dishes, causes vague uneasiness in some and merriment and wantonness in other constitutions, but moderately combined with farinaceous substances and fat, is inferior only to fruit as an alimentary corrective. Potatoes and the legumina (beans, peas, and lentils), inasmuch as they are farinaceous, are a legitimate article of food, yet not as healthy as the cereals. They lack the brain-forming elements, and, though like bread they might sustain life, they would operate depressingly—produce weariness and ennui, without the addition of saccharine and sub-acid food.
"The nervousness and peevishness of our times are chiefly attributable to tea and coffee; the digestive organs of confirmed coffee-drinkers are in a state of chronic derangement, which reacts on the brain, producing fretful and lachrymose moods. Fine ladies, addicted to strong coffee, have a characteristic temper which I might describe as a mania for acting the persecuted saint. Chocolate is neutral in its psychic effects, and is really the most harmless of our fashionable drinks. The snappish, petulant humor of the Chinese can with certainty be ascribed to their immoderate fondness for tea. Beer is brutalizing, wine impassions, whisky infuriates, but eventually unmans.
"Alcoholic drinks combined with a flesh and fat diet totally subjugate the moral man unless their influence be counteracted by violent exercise. But with sedentary habits they produce those unhappy flesh sponges which may be studied in metropolitan bachelor-halls, but better yet in wealthy convents. The soul that may still linger in a fat Austrian abbot is functional to his body only as salt is to pork—in preventing imminent putrefaction."
Essays on diet gravitate toward the Austrian abbot, it seems. But the importance of the three daily meals was indeed wonderfully enhanced by the tedium of convent-life. The god Venter, Ulrich Hutten insinuates, was ever of more consequence to the holy fraternity than all the saints of the Roman calendar, and the greatest miracle in their estimation is the feeding of the five thousand with five loaves of bread. With few exceptions the abbeys and prebendaries of mediæval Europe were strongholds of gluttony, the well-appointed receptacles of the viri amplissimi who carved the board of the dinner-table for the reception of their ample paunches, and whose faces shone at the aspect of a favorite dish as the countenance of Moses on Sinai. Their fasts in Lent were really a satire on the bona fide and chronic fasts of the poor; pastry, puddings, and eel-pies in lieu of the normal venison haunches, and butter instead of ham-fat, helped to sweeten the time of penance; and Erasmus mentions the prior of an abbey who instructed his major-domo to reduce the accustomed number of dumplings for the sake of Good Friday: "Make only ten to-day," said the pious prelate—"but," after some reflection, "you can make them—a little larger."
Of what transcendent interest the bill of fare must have been to Cardinal Dubois, who called on the dying Fontenelle at his boardinghouse! The landlord announcing asparagus for dinner, and asking instructions in regard to the desired sauce, provoked an animated controversy between the two dogmatists. Fontenelle insisted on cream, the Cardinal on melted butter, till the landlord suggested a compromise—he would divide the material and use a separate sauce for each half. But Fontenelle was not destined to eat that dinner—his day of life was ended by a stroke of apoplexy before the sun had reached the meridian. Dubois, who had recognized the sad fact with a paroxysm of grief, then rushed to the landing and shouted down the memorable words, "Mettez tous au beurre!"—(Butter-sauce for the whole lot!)
Twenty per cent, of the French revenues were ingulfed by the cuisine of Louis le Grand, and other court kitchens have furnished very strong arguments to the opponents of royalty. During the ante Napoleonic era of small German principalities, more than one of those "commanders of four faithful square miles" astonished the world by selecting a Secretary of the Treasury from his staff of French cooks; but they who wondered did not know what secrets those functionaries could have revealed to a committee of ways and means. Peter the Great, at his departure from Castle Waldeck, where he had been feasted as the guest of the sovereign proprietor for some days, was asked to give his opinion of the château. "Everything is splendid," replied the ingenuous Russian, "only the kitchen is too large."
Such kitchens and their products have often deserved the attention of the historical pragmatist. An indigestible mushroom stew provoked King Philip's edict against his Protestant subjects and thus caused the revolt of the Netherlands, and the historical eel-pie that extinguished the house of the Medici aided the cause of the Reformation more than all the armies of Sweden and Brandenburg. Mohammed II., the conqueror of Constantinople, we learn from Raumer's history, had an attack of gastritis after finishing a highly seasoned dish of broiled liver. As a matter of course the responsible cook was put to death at once, but the pains and the rage of the Sultan were not appeased, and with his own hand he stabbed Demetrius Phranza, his beautiful favorite, son of the late chief minister of the fallen Greek Empire. By this barbarous act he alienated the hearts of his Christian subjects for ever, and planted the seeds of that hatred which perhaps at this moment bears its harvest on the battle-field of Bulgaria. That dish of sour milk and rye-bread which Charles II. had to eat in his haystack after the battle of Worcester seems never to have been digested by the house of Stuart, though it might have imparted a lesson more useful to the "merry monarch" than any precept of the Scotch Covenanters.
Frederick the Great, who proved himself the master spirit of Europe by such incontrovertible arguments, was himself mastered by his fondness for certain French-made dishes, which, according to Dr. Zimmermann, shortened his life by at least ten years. One of his odes, addressed to Monsieur Noël, his caterer-en-chef dwells rapturously on the merits of a peculiar partridge-pie. "Not, though, as if I doubted that such pies will send me and you à l’enfer" Frederick added in prose after reading this production to Noel himself. "I would follow your majesty even there," returned the courteous cook, "and it is a consoling circumstance that neither of us two is afraid of fire."
We have no Roman Pollios who chopped up a couple of young slaves every week to improve the flavor of their carps; but it is said of the Empress Elizabeth of Russia that during her residence in Moscow she caused the death of more than one courier, who had to bring in oysters and fresh sea-fish from the coast within a specified time. Domitian, the impulsive Imperator, once actually assembled the Roman Senate in special session to vote on the merits of a new sauce which he desired to try on a fat specimen of Rhombus maximus, the Mediterranean turbot! Ælius Verus, whose administration of Asia Minor had drained the wretched province of all its available cash, spent the produce of his rapacity in less than four years in his voluptuous retreat of Daphne, or in the riots of Antioch, where it is said that a single entertainment, to which only about a dozen guests were invited, cost above six million sesterces, or nearly $240,500.
A cook in those times could of ten earn a talent ($1,200) a day, which sum, Petronius remarks, would have sufficed to hire a dozen philosophers for a year. It was the age of complete degeneration of the once so frugal Romans, who now tolerated men like Pyttilus, who got an asbestos sheath fitted to his tongue to enable him to swallow the hottest dishes and spices with impunity; or Aristolenus, who longed for the throat of a crane, that he might prolong the bliss of deglutition. Tacitus speaks of a particular dish, called the shield of Minerva, the ingredients of which cost sixty talents ($72,000), and which the ineffable Vitellius had at different times prepared at that price—an insanity which we may hesitate to believe; but less than a century ago the city of London treated George III. to a banquet of three hundred and fourteen "courses," at an expense of twenty-six thousand pounds sterling.
Opposite the Palais Royal, along the Chaussée d'Antin and on the Rue Rivoli, Paris, there are restaurants where a moderate fortune may be spent in a single week, and the déjeuners-dinatoires of the Frères Provençaux are not forgotten where some piquant made dishes would cost more than a year's board in the Faubourg St.-Germain.
"They offered me an omellette at Fitchburg," says Henry Thoreau, "an omellette with fried bacon, at forty-five cents. Not having fortyfive cents to spare for an indigestion, I bought some bread and butter, which, together with the apples I had, made me a fine dinner. We do need some fat and farinaceous substance once a day, but, if one can get it out of a butter sandwich and ten cents, he commits a crime against national economy and against himself if he wastes the fourfold price on an omellette and fried bacon. And why commit a further waste by calling the thing an o-mel-lette? Are not the two syllables of a pancake sufficient?"
Whatever may have been the intrinsic value of that pancake, it would certainly be worth forty-five cents to know what Henry Thoreau would have said about the following menu of a "little lunch," given at the Langham Hotel (London) to the members of the Dietary Reform Club (society for the introduction of horse-flesh):
Potages—Consommé de cheval. Purée de destrier. Amontillado.
Poissons—Saumon à la sause arabe. Filets de soles à l'huile hippophagique. Vin du Rhin.
Hors d’œuvres—Terrines de foie maigre chevalines. Saucissons de cheval aux pistaches syriaques. Xèrès.
Releves—Filet de Pégase roti aux pommes de terre à la crême. Dinde aux châtaignes. Aloyau de cheval farci à la centaure et aux choux de Bruxelles. Culotte de cheval braisée aux chevaux de frise. Champagne sec.
Entrées—Petits pâtés à la moëlle-Bucéphale. Kromeskys à la gladiateur. Poulets garnis à l’hippogriffe. Langues de cheval àla troyenne. Château perayne.
Rôts—Canards sauvages. Pluviers. Mayonnaises de homard à l'huile de Rossinante. Petits pois à la française, choux-fleurs au parmesan. Volney.
Entremets—Gelée de pieds de cheval au marasquin. Zéphirs sautés à l'huile chevaleresque. Gâteau vétérinaire á la Ducroix. Feuillantines aux pommes des Hespérides.-Saint-Peray.
Glaces—Crême aux truffes. Sorbets contre-préjugés. Liqueurs.
Dessert—Vins fins de Bordeaux. Madère. Café.Buffet—Marmalade au kirsch, gâteau d'ltalie au fromage de Chester, etc., etc.
The Langham has been eclipsed by some Regent Street club-rooms, if not by Delmonico's, but Paris is still the Mecca of epicures, and even during the Prussian siege Baron Brisse would have undertaken to improve on the above menu. Next, perhaps, comes St. Petersburg with its mislanitza and caviare-suppers, then London, New York, and the city that derives its name from ham-sandwiches, as Heine suggests.
The champion belt of Apicius belongs probably to Count Luckner, a Russian dignitary of vast estates in the government of Smolensk, and for a time ambassador at the court of Vienna, where he left because Herr Saphire called him an emotional swill-barrel! At his country seat of Ranzow he is said to receive a daily programme de cuisine from his major-domo, which he scrutinizes like the plan of a campaign. He is known to have knouted the landlord of a country tavern for using lard instead of butter in a dish of cauliflowers, and once he nearly broke the heart of his favorite cook by degrading him to the rank of dish-washer for a similar offense. "Crying and whining will not mend the matter, sir," he told the tearful penitent; "if you had assassinated your gray-haired father, I might call it a perfectly natural act: but that you combine raisins and pork in the same ragout, you must ask your God to pardon you—I can not!" At a banquet in Vienna he was able to indicate the native country of six different kinds of pheasants, but once created a sensation at his hotel by upsetting his chair and leaving the table-d’hôte in a towering passion—they had employed hartshorn instead of yeast in the preparation of a certain variety of sponge-cake!
Berlin has its Jockey Club and a "Hof-Restauration," and in elaborate soupers can dispute the prestige of St. Petersburg, but Vienna is too gross in its tastes to deserve a place in this list, though to a Hungarian palate its gulash (a ragout of broiled mutton) and Kaiser-suppen take rank with nectar and ambrosia. Quantity is prized more than quality here, as well as in other parts of southern Germany or in Bohemia, where forty men of a Prussian regiment could successively impersonate a Bohemian burgher before anything wrong was suspected. During the last occupation of Prague by the North-German troops, the legend runs, there was a grand masked ball at the opera-house, in the lower story of which a regiment of Prussian dragoons had been quartered. Somehow or other the soldiers got possession of a domino or complete masquerade suit, representing a fat burgomaster in his official toggery. An adventurous private donned the suit and gained admittance to the superas auras of the ballroom, and so on to the refreshment-hall, where his enterprise was rewarded by all the luxuries of the Bohemian season. His return to the guard-room with the tale of triumph caused a bonanza sensation, but discipline prevailed, and the regiment was organized into ten-minute reliefs, who in quick succession stormed the works and performed feats of gastronomic daring which soon drew a circle of admirers around the refreshment-table. In and out rushed the black domino, returning like Antæus with ever-renewed strength, it seemed, from a contact with mother earth. The burghers of Prague looked on, wondered, admired, and finally broke out into enthusiastic applause—they began to comprehend; it was the consistent, most natural and appropriate acting out of the part which the domino required—the character rôle of a fat burgomaster who alternates his official duties with short calls at a lunch-table—and only the fortieth call suggested superhuman powers and an investigation of the mystery.
North America, with all its strawberry short-cakes, clam-bakes, and railroad restaurants, is perhaps, after all, the land blessed with the most natural diet. Healthy food, which is the not-often-used privilege of the rich in Europe, abounds on the table of the poor farmer here. Our five or six largest cities emulate the vice-centers of the Old World, and have not learned yet to sin with grace and long impunity; but the populations of our glorious rural districts, in the valleys of New England, on the Western table-lands, and in the paradise of the Alleghanies, live more faithful to nature than any white men since the days of Cincinnatus, in the golden age of Italy, and in consequence are healthier and healthier-looking than any contemporary race, the peasantry of the Tyrol and the Swiss highlands alone excepted. There we meet our physical superiors; but our inferiority is not hopeless, and if we would just fry a little less and cook more, and substitute milk for coffee, Virginia and Vermont would soon turn out boys to match the prettiest Gemsenjäger of the Alpenland.
Hoeing corn and wood-chopping make a hoecake with bacon or a dish of brown beans more palatable than all the piquanteries of the Palais Royal; and even the hog and hominy of the poor tar-heel squatter are preferable to the Irish potato-mess or the cabbage and quass diet of Panslavonia. Exercise in open air as an aid to eupeptic beatitude ranks above all the "old reliable correctives" from the Paracelsian quintessence to Hostetter's bitters. A Persian satrap asked the Spartan ambassador for the receipt of the famous black broth of Lycurgus, but confessed himself unable to relish it without extra spices. "The spices you lack," remarked his guest, "are Spartan gymnastics and a bath in Eurotas."
In Texas, Arkansas, and the Southwestern Territories, we may find habits primitive enough to suit even a Thoreau or an admirer of the patriarchal ages. Abraham treated his angels to a souper-dînatoire of roast veal, barley-bread, and milk—more than the Arkansas traveler could count upon at the end of his day's journey. But the air of the prairies, Rocky Mountain adventures, or the vicissitudes of a North Carolina State road can make the homely symposion of a log-cabin as sweet as an evening with Philemon and Baucis.
It has been remarked that the yearning of homesickness is never produced by the recollection of city luxuries, but of rural diet and habits, and lonely scenery. I am often reminded of an honest mountaineer from western North Carolina who had found a position in the land-office of his State capital. After a session of the State Legislature he was standing among the spectators that always attend the arrival or departure of a Southern railway-train. "Look there, Harry!" said his companion, "there are those representatives of yours again, going to take the cars back to Marion, I guess. Don't they make you feel like taking an up-train yourself sometimes?" "Well, sir," groaned Harry, "I can stand those delegates tolerably enough, but I tell you, if I hear them cry out huckleberries in the morning, it makes me feel like jumping out of bed and starting for home, sweet home, with my shirt-tails flying!"
"Alas," sighs Montaigne, "for my own native hills, and a strawberry-patch, "autour duquel mon âme n’a jamais cessé d’errer!" May they flourish, the strawberries and huckleberries and the Texas pecans, the peanuts, chestnuts, and maple-trees, and the Chickasaw plums, may they be blessed! Also all johnny-cakes, corn-dodgers, and Tyrolese dumplings, and raspberry puddings, that ever restored health to a stranger or confirmed it to a native! "And above all," says Andreas Hofer in his last address to his countrymen, "beware lest they smuggle in the pottage of Esau with other luxuries of the lowlands; and let your motto be, 'Ryebread and freedom!'"