Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

equally good. The most dense part is the leg, but even this is tender aud nutritious the sheep has been well fed. The breast is too fat for delicate persons.

Lamb affords but little nourishment, but the older it is the better it is adapted for food. If it be very young it is oppressive to the stomach of those whose digestion is impaired.

Peal, though tender and succulent, is with difficulty digested by a weak stomach ; and persons subject to derangement of this organ, usually find that it disorders the bowels, from its containing saccharine matter which undergoes fermentation and produces acidity.

Pork is eaten fresh and salted. In many it creates no disturbance when taken either way; but to the delicate, the valetudinarian, and the aged, it disagrees in both modes. Its fat is particularly oppressive, and as the meat abounds in this principle it does not suit the stomach of the dyspeptic. Salted pork is still more objectionable. · Venison. The perfection of the bodies of animals requires the full use and exercise of uncontrolled liberty, and the free choice of food that an unlimited range over different soils allows. Hence, we find that the flesh of the deer is the most nourishing and easy of digestion of every kind of animal food, and were it as easily obtained as our cheaper aliments, we might advantageously exchange all the varieties of our domestic animals for it.

Game, for the same reason, is easy of digestion, but some more so than others. The tenderness of the hare, is materially increased by its being hunted ; as the effects of excessive exercise, accompanied by fear, produce rapid decomposition of the body, and prevent muscular contraction to a great degree. Partridge is about as digestible as the hare, but a pheasan excels both. Wild rabbits are not so tender as hare, and tame ones still less so. The custom of allowing game to become putrid is of very questionable utility, for although its tenderness is increased, and the gastric juice of the stomach has a certain power of correcting putridity, still some of the septic materials may contaminate the system, or affect the bowels, as they often do, with pain and diarrhæa.

ROATED MEAT.-Exactly the same precautions apply in roasting as in boiling meat. Great heat should not be suddenly applied; it coagulates the albumen, dries and chars the external surface of the meat, and prevents that separation of its texture, upon which its tenderness and digestibility depend. In this state it is enveloped by a firm, hard, half-burned empyreumatic and indigestible case, that precludes the proper action of the fire on the internal parts. On the other hand, by too slow a fire, meat loses much of its nutritious juices by gradual evaporation, which has the same effect in hardening its texture as the sudden application of a high temperature. By experiment it is shewn that 190lbs of beef lose in roasting about 6llbs, or about 32 per cent; shoulder of mutton, 32 per cent ; lion of mutton, nearly 36 per cent ; but in these cases the diminution arises principally from the melting out of the fat. Roasted meat is of the two rather more easily digested than boiled. Not entirely on account of the latter having lost a portion of its gelatine and extraneous matter, but because in the roasted meat the natural proportions have not been disturbed ; and we daily observe, that the qualities of aliments are considerably modi. fied, by a preservation of that exact balance, established by the laws that govern the arrangements of nature. Much on the score of nutrition and digestion depends on the extent to which the culinary process has been carried. Meat, therefore, should be so far softened and divided by the action of heat, as to be readily dissolved by the juices of the stomach.

This is certainly a more advanced state, being what is commonly called under-done ; for there are but few stomachs that can comfortably digest the red, tough, flabby fibres of meat in this state. And here we may

advert to the propriety of giving steaks and chops to invalids and children, as the most nourishing and wholesome form in which animal food can be administered. The outside of broiled and fried meat becomes hard, dried, and deprived of its nutritious juices; it seems also to undergo the flavour it acquires by this mode of cooking ; particularly the browned part, sufficiently attests such a change. It must, however, be granted, that if broiled steak or chop be moderately thick, and the outside sliced off, it is a wholesome and eligible form of food as can be partaken of.

It may be taken as a general law, that the flesh of young animals is more difficult to digest than that of old ; and white meats less easily digested and less nourishing than red. Thus veal and lamb, poultry and pork, are not so digestible as beef, mutton, and venison. Of beef -The flesh of the ox at maturity contains more nourishment than a given bulk of any other kind of animal food ; containing more fibrine than the flesh of younger animals, and less gelatine, which we have said before is not easy of digestion, though very nutritive when it has undergone that process. It is remarked by a modern writer of celebrity, that “the stronger kinds of animal food, of which beef may be considered the strongest, are more apt to excite feyer. On this account we often allow those recovering froin fever, or disposed to it, to eat the animal mucilages of those meats which contain a great proportion of them, when even mutton, for example, is forbidden. Thus animal jellies and young meats have obtained the name of light, but this only relates to the tendency to produce fever, for as far as digestion is concerned they are heavier than mutton, and to many stomachs, than beef." If an invalid to avoid fever, abandons beef and mutton, and risks the consequences of indigestion by eating veal, lamb, &c. he incurs an evil no less formidable than the one he endeavours to shun, as fever is very liable to follow a dyspeptic state of the stomach, an event to which debilitated persons are much disposed.

Poultry. It has been already reinarked, that white meats are less eligible than red, and therefore it is to be inferred, that poultry is not such light food as is generally imagined. The fowl is the best and most easy of digestion in the tribe of poultry, but is less so than either beef or mutton. The delicate should reject the skin, which is extreinely indigestible. The turkey ranks next to the fowl in the scale of nourishment, and ducks and geese last. The two latter abound in a strong, oily fat, which is rebellious to the stomach. Pigeons are hard of digestion, and it may be laid down as a general rule, that all the smaller birds are so likewise.

Before we quit the subject of animal food, it may not be improper to notice some particular parts, which from their structure demand animadversion. The inside of animals are of this nature, such as tripe, the envelope of sausages, liver, kidneys, sweetbread, melt, lungs, (or lights, as they are called,) &c. Heart is of a muscular structure, but its texture is too dense and fibrous, and is therefore objectionable. There is too much fat and fibrous matter about the heads of animals, which render this part neither nutritious nor wholesome. Good materials are, however, afforded by it for soups. Cows-heels, sheep trotters, and pig's feet, from containing much gelatine, are difficult of digestion ; they are, therefore, (as has been already explained,) recommended to the weak and infirm upon mistaken principles. Salted tongues are very objectionable, and ham, especially if it is smoked, passes through the alimentary tube without being changed, especially if it be not cut thin and well masticated.

Soups and Broth. Any part of the animal may be used for these purposes, that are not fat; but when great nourishment is required, good lean beef is to be preferred. There are but few cooks who conduct this process properly; and unless they do, both economy and utility must be violated. It has already been shewn, that one of the ingredients of flesh is albumen, a substance that coagulates at a heat of 165°, and that meat suddenly put into boiling water, or quickly brought to that point, becomes dense and hard, and its soluble nutritious particles are locked up by the coagulation of the albumen, whereby the water is prevented from acting on them, cannot become impregnated with their virtues. In making broth, therefore, the meat previously chopped small, should be put into cold water, and gradually warmed. An hour should elapse before it should reach the coagulating point, which is considerably below a boiling heat; by this means its substance will be loosened, and its jelly gradually softened and séparated ; the fluid may now be made to boil, and, after a proper time, the whole of the soluble and nutritious particles will be dissolved, and the broth found strong and deeply coloured. The following are Dr. Kitchener's directions on the subject.

Good Beef Tea. “ Cut a pound of lean gravy meat into thin slices; put it into a quart and half a pint of cold water ; set it over a very gentle fire, when it will become gradually warın. When the scum rises, catch it,

cover the saucepan close, and let it continue to boil for about two hours ; skim the fat off, strain it through a sieve or napkin ; skim it off again, let it stand ten minutes to settle, and then pour off the clear tea."

Soups should not be thickened, as is generally the case, with flour ; for this ingredient forms a viscid paste with the gelatinous principles of the soup, which resists admixture with the gastric fluids, and is utterly indigestible. This farinaceous thickening of soup readily ferments, and disorders the stomach and bowels by producing acidity. The best materials for soup, are beef, mutton, game, and giblets. Veal, under any circumstances, cannot be recommended, as the soup prepared froin it is less digestible and nutritious than that of any other, and generally creates disorders of the bowels, particularly of weak and delicate persons and children. It appears that it is an error to suppose that broths are nourishing and strengthening ; observations and experiments are both averse to such a fact, and warrant the conclusion that food, in a fluid state, does not con-vey nourishment to the body. Dr. Philip, in his valuable treatise on Indigestion, says “It is not generally known, that the most concentrated decoction of beef, so far from nourishing, wiil not, if unmixed with something solid, even allay the appetite. A person under my care was attacked with severe pain of the face, when even the smallest quantity of any solid food was put into the stomach, a single mouthful of bread, never failed to bring on the attack; and as he at length refused all solid food, he was confined for some weeks to a strong decoction of beef; but however strong, and in whatever quantity it was taken, it never relieved the calls of hunger, and he rapidly emaciated." Sinclair, in his “ Code of Health," asserts that a dog was fed on the richest broth, yet could not be kept alive; while another had nothing given him but the meat boiled to a chip from the broth of the other, with water to drink, throve very well.

Fish. The body of fishes differs very considerably in its structure froni the flesh of land animals; it abounds with mucilage and jelly, too sustances which, as we have before shewn, contain little nourishment, and are difficult of digestion. This peculiarity of structure, renders fish much less digestible than meat, particularly to sick persons, and those with weak stomachs. The spare quantity of nutritive particles in fish, is shewn by the speedy return of appetite after a meal wholly of this kind ; in this case, the appetite during the repast is lessened simply by the distention of the stomach, but returns as soon as the organ is disburdened, the constitution not having received the necessary supply from this innutritious material. Fish is more disposed to putrefaction in the stomach than any other article of food; and speedily goes into this state, if it does not readily pass off. Of this fact, the acid, and afterwards putrid eructations of those who have eaten it, and whose digestion is slow, is sufficient evidence. The mischievous consequences of the putrefactive fermentation, are not confined to the uneasy and painful symptoms occasioned by the liberation of quantities of gas in the stoinach and bowels, but may be increased by the deleterious products formed, which are sometimes even of a poisonous nature. This putrefactive state ensues more quickly with fish than in animals, even under common and natural circumstances ; and so violent is the poison which is generated, that many persons have fallen victims to it, from having eaten of fish thus contaminated. But there is a very curious and important fact connected with the natural history of the fish, which is, that at particular times, or under peculiar circumstances, the living fish undergoes such a change as to become violently poisonous, even though it should be eaten when fresh caught, and when there has been no possibility of its virulence being generated after death. Various enquiries have been made into the cause of this extraordinary fact, and numerous opinions entertained respecting it.

It has been supposed by some to arise from the nature of the food which fishes feed upon ; by others, to the natural properties of it, independently of food or of situation ; by a third, to be the effect of disease of the fish; by a fourth, to a change in the constitution of the fish, owing to natural causes, and independent of disease ; by a fifth, to the presence of small sea insects lodging in the fish; and by a sixth, to putrefaction simply. The most probable cause, however, seems to be an unhealthy state of the animal, at particular periods, by which its properties have sustained a morbid change during life; and of which an author who had taken some pains to investigate the subject, thus expresses himself. “ The flesh of fish is, in all temperatures, prone to a more rapid decay than that of warm-blooded animals. It is certainly very possible, that if a fish be caught in this unliealthy condition, it will, upon exposure to an intense degree of atmospheric heat, he more liable to sudden decomposition or putrefaction, than one that is sound, and the rapidity of this decomposition will, in a great degree, be regulated by its state of health. A sickly fish, therefore, would exhibit its deleterious qualities, though eaten immediately it was caught ; while a healthy one will be wholesome on the first day, prejudicial on the second, and on the third produce violent effects." In Europe it is not common to meet with serious or fatal accidents from fish poison; although it is within the experience of most persons to have met with indisposition from eating mussels, lampreys, lobsters, eels, salmon, berrings, and stale mackarel.

In many persons, any of these occasion a sudden and violent rash on the skin, attended with fever, which sometimes runs very high, and is known by the name of nettle-rash. This effect seems to be entirely unconnected with putrescency, or any other known qualities of fish, but to be owing to some undiscoverable condition in them, that affects certain constitutions only; for the same disease is often produced by sweet almonds, by gruel, and other farinaceous substances. It is chiefly, though not wholly, between the tropics, that the poison of fish is most violent and most common ; the fish of the Carribean sea are particularly noxious ; the more dangerous of

« PoprzedniaDalej »