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.
Instead of having to learn painfully, and laboriously throughout the proverbial first forty years of his life, how to become his own physician (or to remain a fool), every man may take practical heed to the lessons which our pages shall plainly teach, and may steer clear of peril throughout a prosperous physical course of years from infancy to the said meridian of life, and onwards to a robust old age".
"A good Coke,"saith Dr. Andrew Boorde, 1536, in his Dyetary of Helthe, "is half a Physycyon".
"Fair woman, could your soul but view The intimate relation 'Twixt food and fate, there'd be a new, And higher dispensation.
Could you but see for "destiny "
A synonym in dinners, And what the kitchen's alchemy,
Can make of mortal sinners, You'd leave odd fads, and learn to bake,
A loaf, and cook a "tater "; To roast a joint, or broil a steak,
Than which no art is greater!
' Man cannot live by bread alone,'
'Tis well and wisely spoken; But make that bad, he'll die unknown,
And give the world no token Of high ambitious potencies,
Or genius' slumbering fires, Inbred in him through galaxies,
Of grand illustrious sires!
Then all ye dames, and maidens fair,
Who burn with high ambition, Who crave to nobly do your share,
To better man's condition, You'd give us, could your soul but view,
The intimate relation ' Twixt food and fate, - ere long - a new,
And higher dispensation".
"There are,' 'according to Dr. Thudicum, "cynical persons who profess to despise, or, at all events, rate lowly the liking for good food which the French call fricandise."Such a refinement of food, however, is not only the efflux of culture, but also has an important influence on the mind, and consequently upon the abilities, and manners of a man. "Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are,"(to paraphrase a saying concerning the influence of the company you keep) is equally true here. Many persons mistake a natural desirable daintiness for gluttony, or gloutonnerie, as Montaigne once termed it "la science de la gueule" or, "the science of the gullet." We hold absolutely with the gourmandise des esprits delicats; if this cannot be satisfied, then vitality is diminished, and life is shortened. The wit of the Parisians has embalmed for themselves la fricandise in an imperishable form. "Avoir le nez tourne a la fricandise comme St. Jacques de l'Hospital."is an expression to the point, derived from an image of St. Jacques de l'Hospital placed over the building of that name, near the Rue des Oies, at Paris. In this street were the shops of the principal meat roasters, and as the saint in effigy looked in the direction of the frying shops, he was said to have "le nez tourne a la fricandise".
That cookery can be made almost a fine art even by mere intuition has been exemplified humorously in Behind the Bungalow (1892), where Domingo, the barefooted, native, untaught Indian servant, exhibits a wonderful fecundity of invention, and an amount of manual dexterity marvellous to behold. And the wonder increases when we consider the simplicity of his implements, and materials. These consist of several copper pots, a chopper, two tin spoons (which he can do without), a ladle made of half a cocoa-nut shell at the end of a stick,, and a slab of stone with a stone roller on it; also a rickety table (a very gloomy, and, ominous-looking table, whose undulating surface is chopped, and hacked, and scarred, begrimed, besmeared, smoked, oiled, and stained with the juices of many heterogeneous substances.) On this table he minces meat, chops onions, rolls pastry, and sleeps; a very useful table! He takes up an egg, gives it three smart taps with the nail of his forefinger, and in half a second the yolk is in one vessel, and the white in another. The fingers of his left hand are his strainer. From eggs he proceeds to onions, then he is taking the stones out of raisins, or shelling peas.
Domingo observes no such formula as that of the English cookery book, "Wash your hands carefully, using a nail-brush,"but wipes his fingers frequently upon his pantaloons, which are blue checked, of a strong material made for jails, and probably in two pairs, the sound parts of one being arranged so as to underlie the holes in the other." But this is by way of a diversion, as touching our main argument.
Again, in China, as Dr. MacGowan, of Shanghai, relates, "little distinction is made between "materia medica,"and "materia alimentaria"; certain curative properties being ascribed to most articles which are used as food. Nearly all portions of animals (the human frame included) are supposed to be efficacious in the treatment of disease. Some of such animal substances are macerated in fermented, or distilled liquors, and are termed "wines;" thus there are mutton wine, dog wine, deer wine, deer-horn wine, tiger-bone wine, snake wine, and tortoise wine".
In a thesis for the degree of Doctor of Medicine recently presented to the University of Paris, M. Jean Barrier has embodied the results of a historical research as to the therapeutic preparations of animal origin employed dietetically by the ancients. In the Asclepeia of Greece bull's blood, and ass flesh were prescribed for consumptives. Preparations of serpent were also largely in use. Hippocrates, although he mostly used simples, occasionally prescribed ox-gall, the dung of asses, and goats, etc. Celsus recommended fox's liver, or lung, in asthma, and the hot blood of a newly-killed gladiator in epilepsy. Pliny's Natural History is an encyclopaedia of organo-therapy. From him we learn that the ancients used certain glands of the hare, the stag, the horse, the pig, and the hyaena, as aphrodisiacs, and as remedies for epilepsy, a disease for which the human brain was also employed. Renal colic was treated with hare's kidneys, boar's bladder was in repute for dysuria, the hyaena's heart for cardiac palpitation, the partridge's stomach for colic. Similar food-medication found favour with the Arabian physicians.
Albucasis taught that the human brain could be nourished, and strengthened by eating cock's brains; hen's gizzard was excellent for the stomach; in short, each organ could be kept in order, or functionally improved by the administration of the corresponding organ of an animal, served at table.
To sum up our subject - vitally important as it is - the foremost advance of modern science now at length holds out a promise of prolonging healthy life by a suitable broth, far beyond the present limit of threescore years and ten, or fourscore years "with labour and sorrow."Here steps in M. Metchnikoff (Professor at the Pasteur Institute,) with a new theory abounding in hope, and courage. "Old age," says he, "results because of our protective white corpuscles in the blood having devoured all their habitual enemies the microbes, and being compelled at last, for lack of other nourishment, to batten upon the nobler organs of the human frame. In a few years, we predict that at the Pasteur Institute, or elsewhere, we shall discover a serum, or animal juice, or gravy, which will supply these white corpuscles with their necessary food, thereby preventing exhausting demands on the bodily organs, and will thus prolong the vitality of heart, and brain, and lungs in the human individual." En attendant, my friends, return to nature (and abjure drugs!), lead a simpler life, diminish the number of your desires, and learn that old age will then cease to be an infirmity.
Honoured, useful, in full possession of all his faculties at six. score years and ten, the greybeard of the approaching future will be among the most enviable of mankind." "The fact is that only one man in a million at present dies a natural death. We should live until one hundred and forty years of age. A man who expires at seventy, or eighty is the victim of an accident, cut off in the flower of his days; and he unconsciously resents being deprived of the fifty years, or so, which nature still owes him. Leave him a while longer, and in due season he will desire to depart, as a child at bedtime desires to sleep.
To "Go thy way then,"shall be our final exhortation. "Eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart. Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment." "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine; but a broken spirit drieth the bones".