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.
One might as well expect a spoon to be of nutritive value because it conveys food from the plate to the mouth." Two French experimenters found that fresh blood when administered to dogs, even in the liberal allowance of two pounds daily, did not suffice to maintain the life of the animals for more than a month. Blood, in fact, from a chemical point of view, is not so much thicker than water after all; in its solids there is plenty of proteid (primary food), but the other nutritive constituents needed to sustain life, as fat, and sugar, starch, and glucose, are only in quite an inappreciable amount. Furthermore, the red colouring matter (haemoglobin) which makes up the larger part of the proteid, is a substance which is very far from being completely absorbed. Thus it happens that though blood may be used dietetically without much harm, yet at the same time it will be without much benefit, as given in black puddings, and similar culinary preparations; this being true also of the use of animal blood for the sick as a source of iron.
Importance should be attached to the proper and wholesome feeding of fowls which are served for the invalid. They are affected healthfully, or otherwise, as to their quality of flesh, by the care exercised in feeding them, and the character of the fodder which is supplied to them. Recently a French experimentalist kept some domestic fowls in cages, exclusively on hashed meat (previously stripped of sinew, and fat), with as much water as they liked to drink. At first this diet seemed to suit well enough; but after some time (in from three to five months) the fowls began to show positive signs of gout; their legs became weak, and. their gait uncertain; their joints were seen to be manifestly swollen, whilst on some days the birds remained lying down, and would not take any food. Attacks of this nature became more and more frequent, and finally the fowls grew thin, and died. Deposits of urates were found around the joints, as well as in the sheaths of the tendons; likewise some in the kidneys. A doctor in Paris ascertained that the administration to a hen of any medicament results in a similarly doctored egg, and he recommends the faculty of physicians to make a practical use of this discovery.
It has naturally elicited scornfully humorous comment: -
"In dealing with the modern egg,
Please pause e'er you begin it. Inspect it carefully, I beg,
There's something nauseous in it. Be wary, scrutinize it well,
Lest nasty drugs be present. There's castor oil within the shell,
Or things still more unpleasant".
It is noteworthy that the giblets of poultry exercise certain solvent properties on other foods, particularly by the gizzard, which in fowls secretes their gastric juice, whilst its lining membrane will coagulate milk, just as rennet does from the calf. Giblets as a combination include the gizzard, head, neck, heart, joints, and pinions of poultry, principally of geese, turkeys, and ducks. From the dried, and powdered lining of the fowl's gizzard, is prepared "ingluvin," a pepsin of specific use against the sickness of pregnant women, especially if taken shortly before food.
Various culinary methods of preparing poultry for the sick are detailed in Kitchen Physic, which it would be tedious to repeat. As a specially suitable dish for the convalescent before proceeding to red meat, boiled fowl, and chicken mould, are to be commended. For the former, put the chicken to boil for one and a quarter hours with just enough cold water to cover it; season with salt, and four or five sliced onions (unless forbidden), a bunch of herbs, and about a dozen peppercorns; simmer gently until tender; then make use of the liquor, boiling it down to the required quantity, with the onions in it for flavouring. For chicken mould, take a large chicken, one quart of cold water, pepper, and salt; skin the chicken, and put it into a saucepan with the water, and boil it the usual time; take it out, and cut pieces from the breast, and legs; put back the bones, etc., into the saucepan, and boil till the water is reduced to a pint; strain it, and add to the liquor the pieces of chicken cut off, minced finely, and pepper and salt to taste; let it stand until cold, and jellied, then turn it out.
The "Poule d'lnde," or fowl of India, cock, or hen, is our Turkey (Meleagris), the bubbly jock of Scotland, which originally came from America, having been first found wild there, and nowhere else. Turkeys do not hail from Turkey any more than Turkey corn, which also came first from America. In Paris this fowl has become known as a dindon, or "poulet d'lnde," hough quite on an equal misconception of its origin. "When young," said Robert Lovell (1661), "it recovereth strength, nourisheth plentifully, kindleth lust, and agreeth with every temper, and complexion, except too hot, and troubled with rheumes, and gouts." "The flesh," wrote Dr. Salmon (1695), "is most excellent food, and of great nourishment; you may concoct broth, ale, or jelly of it against consumptions, for it restoreth strength plentifully, and agrees with all dispositions".
Young Turkeys will not fatten unless they have free access to pebbles, many of which are found in their gizzards. This lordly fowl began to appear as a Christmas dish about 1585. "Turkeys, hops, and carp" were introduced into England during the reign of Henry the Eighth. After the middle ages Turkeys were practically extinct in Europe; they were imported again in 1432 by a French trader who was master of the Mint, and director of Artillery in the service of Charles the Seventh of France. The story is told of a gourmand who, when recovering from an illness, was allowed by his doctor, in writing, as a simple dinner, "Une cuisse de poulet." But scarcely had the doctor taken his departure when the patient caught up the prescribed menu-card, and, cleverly imitating the physician's hand, added "d'lnde" after poulet. This order being duly carried out by the cook, the patient regaled himself on a big meal, and a laugh at the doctor's expense. The Turkey Cock goes by the popular names Gobble Cock, and Gobbler. Said Sam Weller (Pickwick) when getting into some trouble, "I'm pretty tough J that's vun consolation, as the wery old Turkey remarked ven the farmer said he wos afeer'd he should have to kill him for the London market." Alexis Soyer, the noted London chef, at the time of the Crimean War, invented a hundred-guinea dish, for producing which a hundred Turkeys had to be slaughtered, each of which furnished only the two dark pieces of solid flesh from the hips, called by the French "le sot l'y laisse".
Meleager, after whom the Turkey is named, was a king of Macedonia.