The purpose of this Handbook is to explain what are the curative constituents of such dishes, and table-waters, as a Doctor can adequately order instead of drugs, when prescribing against diseases; these same matters of diet being actually medicinal, though in the pleasant guise of eatables, and drinks, to suit the palate. It will be found that no reason whatever can be urged why curative meals of such a character shall not be always effectively employed for treating sick persons: indeed, why nauseous medicaments shall not be altogether supplanted by savoury productions from the cook, and the vintner. Pursuing which methods the Doctor, when minded to administer certain remedies hitherto dispensed by the Chemist, will remember, or learn (for he does not always know) how to fulfil his object far more agreeably through help from the kitchen. Thus, also the patient may be led to comprehend how such, and such culinary preparations can do him equal good in lieu of repulsive doses from the Apothecary; and he, or she will gratefully accept welcome meats, and refreshing drinks, in the place of potions, or pills, for curing definite diseases, as readily as for purifying, purging, or strengthening the system.

Furthermore, after this manner the intelligent cook, becoming apprised of the properties, and virtues which her roasts, and stews, her vegetable purees, and her choice confections, are able to convey, if thoughtfully admixed, and carefully handled, will gain well-merited promotion in the esteem, and approval of those who profit by her important domestic services, instead of employing the druggist.

Nearly three centuries back some such an enlightened practice of cure was foreshadowed by Dr. Tobias Venner (1620), "Doctor of Physicke at Bathe, in the Spring and Fall." When dedicating his "Via Recta ad Vitam longam" to the Right Honourable Francis Lord Verulam, Lord High Chancellor of England, "In regard,"wrote he, "of the worthines, and utilitie of the subject, this is ' the Dieteticall Part of Physicke,' which for preservation of health appertaines to all men (but to none, as I suppose, more than to your Honour, who, under His Majestie, doth chiefly wield the State of our Reipublique"). Again (in 1685), Liebnitz, the famous German philosopher, said, in a letter to Denis Papin (who invented the Digester which bears his name): "As regards internal medicine, I hold that this is a mere art like that of playing nine-pins, or backgammon. I have often wished that a skilful physician should write a book 'De curandis per dietam morbis,' - about curing diseases by means of the diet".

"There will come a time,"as a recent writer of note predicts, "when no medicines will be administered, except in acute, and sudden attacks. Disease will be remedied by foods; the intelligent house-mother is testing the value of this assertion in the daily ordering of meals for her family, seeing that a newly-acquired knowledge of dietetics has put her on the way to such enlightenment.' 'Celery, for instance, is found to be so constituted as to be curatively efficacious for persons suffering from any form of rheumatism, also for nervous indigestion, and kindred nervine troubles. Water-cress contains principles which are remedial against scurvy. Pea-nuts, which are rich in fats, and proteids, may be specially commended for the rescue of diabetics. Onions are almost the best nervine strengthened known, no medicine being equally useful in cases of nervous prostration, or so quick to restore, and tone up a jaded physical system. Asparagus, by its alkaloids, will induce salutary perspiration. Carrots will relieve asthma. Eggs, especially their yolks, will disperse jaundice, and can be given for clearing the voice.

Instead of iron as a chalybeate, the pulp of raw beef, or animal blood in black puddings, will prove an efficient substitute; whilst the bitter Seville orange will admirably take the place of quinine as a prince among tonics for debilitated persons.

Nevertheless, before the subject of cure, or prevention, of disease by a dietary regimen, as skilfully adapted to the needs, and condition of patients under their several ailments, can be properly mastered, its alphabet of fundamental parts, and chemical ingredients must be diligently acquired, at all events in outline. Just after the same fashion with regard to our daily methods of speech; in order to talk correctly, so as to convey the full significance, and true purport of what is said, the speaker must first learn the grammar of sentences, and the etymology of words. It is true the colloquial discourse of untutored rustics will generally suffice to rudely express the sense of what they desire to convey. But this, after all, is only a hit-or-miss method, altogether unreliable, and not worthy of imitation. For example, the Devonshire rustic says: "I be that fond ov cowcumbers I could aight 'urn to ivery meal, I could: but I niver did zee nobody zo daainty az yu be: yu carn't aight nort like nobody else." Again, a Devon ploughboy, sick with measles, exclaims: "Brath! whot, brath agin! Why 'twas brath yisterday! brath tha day avore! brath tu day! an mayhap 'tweel be brath agin tu-morrar! I'll be darned ef I'll be keep'd 'pon brath!"

Or, "Poor old Mrs. Fangdin be gettin' dotty, th'of er've a knaw'd a theng or tu in 'er lifetime, za well's Dr. Budd, 'er ave".

This same art of adapting cookery to the wants of sick, and delicate persons was, as we learn from Dr. Thudicum's Spirit of Cookery (1895), systematically treated for the first time by Walter Ryff, in 1669; and again in subsidy at considerable length by Scappi, the cook of Pope Paul the Fifth, who gave two hundred culinary receipts for the sick, and for the convalescent, instructing his pupils that if they omitted these things they would fail much in their duty. He therefore described how broths, soups, jellies, barley-water, and such foods should be made. He particularly advised light soups concocted of oysters, snails, frogs, tortoises, and turtles.