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.
Accordingly, such a compendium of explanatory dietetics is now undertaken, with the conjoint purposes of enlightening the cook, of treating diseases by effective medicinal constituents given at table, and of helping the doctor with points of reference ready at hand concerning the meals which he may best advise for each case as it comes before him. Moreover, he will thus become further furnished with a serviceable stock of culinary suggestions, suitably adapted for such patients as seek his help by correspondence: in which way, when economy of time for immediate study, and research, is an object (the attention being, moreover, of necessity otherwise occupied), important questions concerning appropriate forms of sustenance can be expeditiously solved by a ready reference to our Manual.
"But now the Cook must pass through all degrees, And by his art discordant tempers please, And minister to health and to disease. Homer, less modern, if we search his books Will show us that his Heroes all were Cooks: How lov'd Patroclus with Achilles joins To quarter out the ox, and spit the loins".
In the earlier ages of the world, no palled appetites are recorded, but such as proceeded from the decays of nature by reason of an advanced old age. On the contrary, we are told of a hungry stomach even upon a deathbed, as with patriarchal Isaac. Nor were there other sicknesses but the first, and the last. For two thousand years, and upwards, there were no physicians to prescribe for ailing persons, nor any apothecaries to compound distasteful medicines. Food and physic were then one and the same thing. Primeval mankind, gaunt, brown, and savage, in a state of nature, fed upon roots, fruits, vegetables, and wild animals, all without culture, or cooking. By-and-by, through the transference of the digestive work - in part to the sun as a cooking power, and partly to fire in a like capacity some measure of his released physical energy, together with an increase of intellect, became wrought in man, and this lessening of the digestive strain had more than one marked effect on his body, and physical aspect.
The heavy, protruding jaws, once so necessary for masticating huge quantities of coarse innutritions food, became smaller, and more receding; whilst along with this recession of the jaw there was produced a progressive, or forward, and upward growth of the brain - the lower giving place to the higher - the animal to the man: whereby we see that the advancement of the human race has been largely the result of diet. Manifestly, then, the course of our own evolution depends on ourselves; we may, according to our own conduct day by day, be building up a better body, and a better mind, or else one that shall be worse than the fair promise of the original germ. And, therefore, it is self-evident that the philosophy of preparing such materials as go to build up, and renew the body, and the brain, must be well worthy of the most careful study; which philosophy is the Chemistry of Cookery. Eight deservedly, then, by a parity of reasoning, does Dr. Rabagliatti, of Bradford make it to-day a leading aphorism of modern medicine, that "Morbi ii qui non mederi victu fossunt, vix, vel maxima cum difficultate, medendi sunt" - "those diseases which cannot be cured by victuals are scarcely curable anyhow".
Moreover, this substitution of medicinal constituents for cures by foods, instead of by physic, has its humorous side; at least so think our American cousins, (who are up to date in such respects), with their "Vassar Pie": -
"Give me a spoonful of oleo, ma,
And the sodium alkali, For I'm going to make a pie, mamma,
I'm going to make a pie: Poor John will be hungry and tired, my ma,
And his tissues will decompose; So give me some grains of phosphate,
With carbon, and cellulose.
Now hand me a chunk of casein, ma,
To shorten the thermic fat; And pass me the oxygen bottle, ma,
And look at the thermostat: And, if the electric oven's cold,
Just turn it on half an ohm, For I want to have supper ready, ma,
As soon as John comes home.
Provide me the neutral dope, mamma,
Give a turn to the mixing machine; But hand me the sterilized water first,
And the oleo-margarine; With the phosphates, too; for now I think,
His mate in the office has quit, So John will need more phosphate food,
To help his brain a bit".
It frequently becomes the duty of a doctor to see that the diet of his weakly patients is enriched in special directions, most commonly perhaps in those of light meats, and fats. But of course to advise chicken, and cream for a man with a slender purse would be a useless proceeding; he simply could not afford to buy these luxuries. It is therefore worth while to remember that cheaper sources of the necessary building material are to be found in skim milk, in such oily fish as herrings and sprats, sound new cheese, and the more easily negotiated pulses, as lentils, haricot beans, etc.; whilst very economical forms of digestible fat - as Dr. Hutchison teaches - are margarine, and good dripping. On the contrary, with regard to drugs, which are costly, "there is not in all the Pharmacopoeias a single active article, which has not in conjunction with its virtues the vice of deranging more or less the gastric digestion. It is this which makes it a medicine, and not a food".
Concerning diet as contravening the symptoms of diseases, Dr. Merriman, of Ohio, wrote thus (Medical Record, 1902), "The point I wish to make is this, that in my opinion the time is ripe for an entire revolution in the administration of drugs. The proper ingestion, and the proper digestion of food, constitute the most successful field of healing now known to man. Why, therefore, should not every well-informed physician write prescriptions exclusively for foods, whilst prohibiting those articles of diet which are known to induce conditions causative of the malady he is anxious to cure? Is not this the opportune moment for the physiological chemist to furnish reliable data upon which each physician may construct a suitable diet for every patient, or group of patients? Correct dietaries for the brain-worker, the manual labourer, and the average citizen whilst in good health, have been accurately estimated by the scientific experts in Government employ; but the properly adjusted diets for patients troubled with gout, rheumatism, and allied illnesses (due mainly to harmful products retained within their bodies, and which must be helpfully neutralized, whilst their future formation is likewise prevented) are still but imperfectly understood by the average medical practitioner." "Give us good Cooks,"writes Dr. Kellog, of Michigan, "intelligent cooks, cooks who are thoroughly educated, and then the cure of nine-tenths of all the dyspeptics may be guaranteed, without money, and without medicinal treatment." Again, "those bodily infirmities to which so often a constitutional bias is inherited from birth, such as consumption, rheumatism, and gout, may be prevented from development, or held in complete check, by the discipline of diet pursued from childhood, and with a healthful relish.