This section is from the book "Meals Medicinal", by W. T. Fernie. Also available from Amazon: Meals Medicinal: With "Herbal Simples" Curative Foods From the Cook in Place of Drugs From the Chemist.
Trelawney has described the making of Turkish Coffee correctly, thus (July, 1900): "A bright charcoal fire was burning in a small stove. Kamalia first took for four persons four handfuls of the small, pale Mocha berries, little bigger than barley; these had been carefully picked, and cleaned; she put them into an iron vessel, where, with admirable quickness and dexterity, they were roasted until their colour was somewhat darkened, but the moisture not exhaled; the over-roasted ones were picked out, and the remainder, while very hot, put into a large wooden mortar, where they were instantly pounded by another woman. This done, Kamalia passed the powder through a camel-hair cloth, and then re-passed it through a finer cloth. Meantime a Coffee-pot containing exactly four cupfuls of water was boiling; this was taken off, and one cupful poured out; and three cupfuls of the powder (after she had ascertained its impalpability between her finger and thumb) were stirred in with a stick of cinnamon. When replaced on the fire, the pot, if on the point of over-boiling, was taken off, and struck by its heel against the hob, and again put on the fire; this was repeated five or six times.
I forgot to mention, she added a very minute piece of mace, not enough to make its flavour distinguishable, and that the Coffee-pot must be of tin, and uncovered, or the decoction cannot form a thick cream on its surface, which it ought to do. After it was taken for the last time from the fire, the cupful of water which had been at first poured out was returned. The Coffee was then carried into the drinking room without being disturbed, and was instantly poured into the cups, where it retained its rich cream on the top. Thus made its exquisite fragrance filled the room, and nothing could be more delicious to the palate".
For sea-sickness a cup of pure Coffee, hot, without milk, or sugar, is often successful. . (Dr. Mackern, who has made five or six voyages round the world, speaks in high terms likewise of charcoal, by taking two teaspoonfuls daily for a couple of days before starting on any long voyage; then drinking plenty of hot water on the first day of the voyage, and afterwards resuming the charcoal - one teaspoonful twice a day as before.) For "Coffee jelly," soak half an ounce of gelatine in half a pint of water for an hour until it is dissolved; then add a breakfast-cupful of strong, clear Coffee freshly made; sweeten to taste, and put the mixture into a mould (adding a little brandy, if desired); serve when firm. For "Coffee syrup," choose good Mocha Coffee, and roast it until it acquires a dark cinnamon colour; grind it in a marble mortar, and pass it through a sieve; put the powder into a jug, and pour boiling water over it, stirring it with a spoon; then put two layers of parchment over the jug, and place it in a cool oven until the next day; pour the infusion through a white piece of linen rag over an earthenware dish, squeeze the linen well so that all the strength of the Coffee may be secured, and pass the liquor through a filter.
Then take double the bulk of sugar (clarified, and boiled till smooth), boil this to crack, and add the infusion; allow the mixture to simmer, then take it off the fire, and put it when lukewarm into bottles. This Coffee syrup is a convenient beverage for travellers. If two teaspoonfuls are put into a cup, and boiling water is poured on, good Coffee can be thus quickly made. Sugar mixed with Coffee draws forth all its aroma; and if mixed with Cafe au lait it gives a light, agreeable, easily-made food which admirably suits those persons who must work at the desk immediately after breakfast. The Turks, who are superior to all others in Coffee-making, do not use a mill for grinding the berries: they break the Coffee up in wooden mortars with wooden pestles, and when these have been for a long time in family use they become saturated with fine aromas, being therefore valuable, and commanding high prices. The undoubted opinion of experts is that Coffee made with the pounded berry is better than that made with ground berries.
With respect whereto a singular example may be given of the influence which this or that manner of manipulating can make to a food-substance: "Sir!" said Napoleon one day to Senator Laplace, "how is it that a glass of water in which I melt a piece of loaf sugar appears to me to taste better than that in which I put the same quantity of ground sugar?" "Sire," said the savant, "there are three substances of which the elementary constituents are exactly the same - that is to say, sugar, gum, and starch; they differ only by certain conditions, the nature of which has not been revealed to us; and I believe that it is possible the force exercised by the pestle causes certain portions of the sugar to pass into the states of gum, or starch, and occasions the difference of flavours to which you refer." This fact is fairly well established, later observations having confirmed the opinion of Laplace.
Brillat Savarin says that "having tried all the customary methods for making infusion of Coffee, he came to the conclusion that the process known as "a la Dubdloy" is the best. This consists in pouring boiling water on the ground Coffee, put into a porcelain, or silver vase pierced with very small holes. The first decoction is taken, heated again to boiling, and passed through the Coffee anew, when a beverage as clear, and as good as possible is obtained.
Persons who can take Coffee in the evening, or at night, without being prevented thereby from sleeping, seem to need it also during the day for keeping them awake, and are pretty sure to doze during the evening if they fail to take Coffee after dinner. A still larger number of persons are sleepy all the day when they have not had their Coffee in the morning. Coffee is a much more energetic beverage than is usually believed. A man with a good constitution can live a long time, and drink two bottles of wine every day; but the same man could not take an equal allowance of Coffee for the same length of time: he would become' imbecile, or would die of consumption. It is a duty for all the papas and mammas of the world to severely interdict Coffee to their children, if they do not wish them to be old at twenty years; this advice is specially offered to the Parisians" (Brillat Savarin).
For persons liable to sluggishness of the liver, and of the biliary functions, Dandelion Coffee is prepared, and kept in stock by all the leading grocers. It is made from the dried root of the Dandelion plant (Taraxacum) of our fields and hedgerows, being used as a capital substitute for ordinary Coffee. This root is at its best in November. Its active constituents are taraxacin, and taraxacerin, with inulin (a sort of sugar), gluten, gum, potash, and an odorous resin which is commonly supposed to stimulate the liver. Dandelion leaves, when young and tender in springtime, are eaten on the Continent in salads, or, when blanched, with bread and butter. Again, a Dandelion wine is made for the use of persons with an indolent liver, because of the principle taraxacin, and the resinoid bodies contained in the herb. Potassium and calcium salts are also present, which were formerly thought to make the Dandelion diuretic, and hence was derived its old English title - coarse, but significant - Piss-a-bed:
"When Willie was a little boy,
Not more than five or six, Right constantly did he annoy,
His mother with his tricks. Yet not a pin, or groat cared I,
For what he did, or said, Unless, as happened frequently,
The rascal wet the bed.
'Tis many times that Willie has,
Soaked all the bedclothes through, Whereat I'd rise, and light the gas,
And wonder what to do. Yet there he lay, so peaceful-like:
God bless his curly head! I quite forgave the little tyke,
For wetting of the bed.
Ah me! those happy clays have flown!
My boy's a father too; And little Willies of his own,
Do what he used to do: And I - ah! all that's left for me,
Are dreams of pleasure fled: My life's not what it used to be,
When Willie wet the bed".
Lord Macaulay, when he retired from Parliament (1856), lived at Campden Hill, and took to gardening. He disliked dandelions singularly, and relates how he "exterminated all the dandelions which had sprung up since yesterday." Again, when writing to his niece, "Dear little Alice," he tells her: "I have had no friends near me but my books and my flowers; and no enemies but those execrable dandelions! I thought I was rid of the villains! but the day before yesterday when I got up and looked out of my window, I could see five or six of their great, impudent, yellow, flaring faces turned up at me. 'Only you wait till I come down,' I said. How I pulled them up! How I enjoyed their destruction! Is it Christian-like to hate a dandelion so savagely?" Bergins says he has seen intractable cases of chronic liver congestion cured, after many other remedies had failed, by the patients taking daily for some months a broth made from dandelion roots sliced, and stewed in boiling water, with some leaves of sorrel, and the yolk of an -egg. These roots are in their best condition for yielding juice about November. During winter the sap is thick, sweet, and alpuminous, but in summer time it is bitter and acrid.
Frost causes the bitterness to diminish, and sweetness to take its place; but after the frost this bitterness recurs, and is intensified. The whitened growth of a dandelion root when it has been blanched, and drawn out in length by having to become developed through a mole-hill, is much more sweet, and tender, and free from bitterness than if ordinarily grown. Parkinson writes (1640): "Whoso is drawing towards a consumption, or ready to fall into a cachexy, shall find a wonderful help from the use of young, tender dandelion leaves, blanched, and eaten with bread and butter in the spring for some time together".