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.
But one may fairly ask, Are the artificial peptones of as much dietetic value as the proteid meat at first hand? Are they equally well assimilated, and as capable of recruiting the invalid? We may confidently say that they can fully play the part in nutrition, which is ordinarily taken by proteids given unaltered, and swallowed as food in the customary manner. But it may not be denied that these outside peptones have a tendency to produce diarrhoea, since they seem to cause a considerable flow of water from the blood into the stomach and bowels, leading to looseness. When treating fevers, and wishing to give proteids, it is found that milk albumin (or Plasmon) will nourish, without raising the bodily temperature as flesh meat does. Plasmon contains about 90 per cent of milk-albumin.
Charles Lamb, a good judge of meat, compared thereto his own literary productions; and when a contributor to The Champion (1814) begged the editor, Mr. Scott, to "wink occasionally at briskets, and veiny pieces." As a rule the flesh of a female animal is more tender, but with less flavour, than that of the male. It was Jeremy Taylor's hen-pecked husband who "found dry bread abroad better eating than roast meat at home".
Pepys, in his famous Diary, records it that on October 24th, 1662, he "dined with my wife upon a most excellent dish of Tripes of my own directing, covered with mustard, as I have heretofore seen them done at my Lord Crewe's, of which I made a very great meal, and sent for a glass of wine for.myself." Tripe is the paunch of the stomach of cud-chewing animals, the ox, cow, etc.; its principal constituents are albumin, and fibrin, with fat; it is the most easily digested of all viands, possessing a large amount of connective tissue, which is readily changed into gelatine on boiling, so that the fibres are easily acted on by the gastric juice of the stomach. It also contains fat in a considerable amount, but not diffused through the muscular part. Unfortunately, the lack of extractives causes Tripe to be somewhat deficient in flavour, but otherwise it is to be regarded as a valuable, easily-assimilated food. About forty grains of proteid are present in each ounce of Tripe. Dr. Kitchener thought that Tripe holds the same rank amongst solids that water-gruel does among soups.
It is without doubt tasteless of itself; and if the non-striped muscular fibres comprising its substance (such being the rumen, or first stomach of the ox) did own any little savoury material, this must be lost in the difficult process of its preparation, and boiling. The Tripe remains, therefore, chiefly a body of connective tissue, and has to be boiled until it is almost ready to dissolve into gelatine. It should be bought at the Tripe-shop in the boiled state, and next re-boiled at home in milk for at least an hour; and must then be made tasty by sauces, or garnishes, being therefore most frequently flavoured with an abundance of onions. According to Homer, Tripe was one of the dishes presented to the guests at the feast of Achilles as a food fit for heroes. A French name for Tripe is Gras double. Our English word is derived from "Trippa," entrails, belly, strippen. There is the plain Tripe, and the reticulum, or honeycomb Tripe, including the whole of the cardiac division of the stomach; this latter is the best part.
The Art of Cookery (1709) suggests keeping the culinary preparation of Tripe out of observation by those who are to partake of it when dressed, and sent to table: -
"In private draw your poultry, clean your tripe, (And from your eels the slimy substance wipe.) Let noisome offices be done by night, For they who like the meat abhor the sight".
Mr. Lawson Tait, the late eminent surgeon, constantly recommended Tripe to his convalescent patients, with the remark that if it cost a guinea a pound, everyone would be wanting to eat it. Great care must be taken to always thoroughly clean it, and then to boil it steadily until quite tender; if fried it is not so digestible. Other ways of cooking it are as minced, stewed, curried, grilled, or fricasseed; but for invalids it is best boiled, and served with onion sauce, simply and smoothly made. Further particulars about Tripe, its cooking, and its literary associations, are given in Kitchen Physic. Five days before Charles Lamb was overtaken by erysipelas ensuing after a slight accident, and soon becoming unexpectedly fatal, he enquired anxiously from Mrs. Dyer about.a book left at her house, which he had gone out to fetch "while the Tripe was frying." "It was Mr. Cary's book, and I would not lose it for the world," said Lamb; "if it be lost I shall never like Tripe again." The book was afterwards found, with a leaf folded down at the account of Sir Philip Sydney's end.
As regards animal foods in general, raw meat juice is deemed by some doctors to be the most highly restorative, and the most readily digested of all such foods, being particularly valuable for supplying proteid to children. When mixed with milk, it is usefully antiscorbutic, though needing to be prepared fresh every day, as it does not keep well. This contains 5 per cent of albuminates, and 3 per cent of nitrogenous extractives, together with mineral salts. Add to finely-minced rump steak, cold water in the proportion of one pint of water to four parts of the meat; stir well together, and allow to stand for half an hour; then forcibly express the juice by squeezing it out through muslin. But Dr. Hutchison is of a different opinion as regards raw beef-juice, which "cannot be considered an important aid to nutrition; this being evident from the fact that even of a preparation which contains 5 per cent of proteid, about three pints would be needed to supply the proteid required by an invalid; so that these raw meat juices can only be of some slight service in tiding over a crisis in which the administration of milk is for some reason out of the question.
But a solution of egg-white flavoured with meat-extract makes an efficient substitute for beef-juices. The nutritive value of Beef-tea, which of itself never contains more than 2 per cent of nutritive matters, can be materially increased by adding to it the finely-powdered fibre of the meat; and the only means for getting the full nutritive value of meat in a small bulk is by the use of meat powders, thereby making 'whole beef-tea.' " Extract of meat is prepared by simply mincing lean fresh meat, and exposing it to the action of cold water, afterwards evaporating down the solution to the consistence of a thick extract. But without its flavouring constituents (which are likewise to be secured, as in Liebig's Extract), and the other nutritive attributes of the flesh, animal food is tasteless, and almost worthless. "It is upon the extractives," writes Dr. Hutchison, "that the value, and uses of Liebig's meat-extract must chiefly depend; these have unquestionably a marked effect on the digestive organs; they are the most powerful exciters of gastric digestion that we possess, and are thus eminently calculated to rouse the appetite, and aid the digestion of any food with which they may be taken.