Butter-milk is a wholesome drink, particularly in summer, as the nutritive power of the milk is but little reduced by the removal of the butter, while the sourness, due to the formation of lactic acid, aids digestion.
Eggs contain a great deal of carbon, and are, for that reason, good food for cold weather. They are too concentrated for exclusive diet, and should be eaten with coarse food, or that which is composed largely of starch.
In making cakes, the oil of the yolks of eggs used makes the perfect blending of lard or butter impossible, and hence unwholesome. For this reason sponge cake, which contains no butter, is less objectionable.
Breads differ but little in these elements. Corn meal contains more oil and less nitrogen than others, and oatmeal is richest in nitrogen. The easy blending of the elements, and the tough gluten of wheat, make it the most available grain for bread. Wheat bread alone will support life longer than any other food except animal flesh. The proportion of nitrogen to carbon is one to five, which is nearly correct for a sedentary person. For active, out-door life more nitrogen is needed, and is best supplied by lean meats.
The nutritive qualities of animals differ but little. Wild meats digest more easily than tame, though the time required varies with the age and condition of the animal. Flesh is a stimulating diet because it is force-giving and muscle-feeding. The animal has gathered from various sources and concentrated in its flesh the constituents which best meet the wants of our bodies in the most available form.
Applying the knowledge of the wants of the body, and of the elements of food to a bill of fare, and a wholesome breakfast demands strength-giving and muscle-making food. Nothing is more quickly available than beefsteak, and it is most digestible broiled. It is a diet for real workers. Eggs are nutritive, but less stimulating. These provide for the muscles. For heat, starchy food is demanded, but bulk is not desirable for breakfast after a long fast. Bread and cakes of wheat flour are best for the purpose, and fruits, raw or cooked, furnish the mild vegetable acid, which aids digestion. If coffee is taken at all, breakfast is the time, so that the stimulating effect may pass away before the hour of rest comes. An infusion of genuine coffee, not a decoction, is not injurious in the morning to most persons, and is beneficial to those exposed to changes of temperature.
Nothing appeases the appetite sooner than the juice of flesh. The barley gives a color and flavor. Following soup is roast beef, which feeds the muscles, and after it come the puddings, which abound in carbon, to give the fuel necessary to keep up the animal heat. Last comes fruit to aid digestion, with its agreeable acids. In summer less carbon should appear on the bills of fare, and blanc manges, creams, fruit puddings and pie.?, berries, and ripe fruits should make up the desserts.
In making a feast, the wise hostess would consider well what has been the employment of the guests. A party of fox-hunters, or wood-choppers, or surveyors, would require an abundance of meats, but a collection of artists and scholars would relish better a variety of delicacies and novelties. A sleighing party will devour carbon, but those who have sweltered under a July sun long for cooling fruits and the leanest of meats. The time when a feast is given should decide whether food, easy or difficult of digestion, should appear on a bill of fare, though such consideration for the health of guests is hardly to be expected of the average hostess.