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.
This, indeed, is their true role, both in health, and in disease: they are flavouring agents, and their proper place is in the kitchen, not by the bedside. But as regards nourishing an invalid, these substances represent only the fragments, as it were, of broken-down proteid, and are of no use as tissue-builders".
An admirable combination of animal proteids with some useful carbohydrates is meal-bread, or wheaten bread, together with which a quantity of freshly-cooked, and minced, lean meat has been incorporated, after such a manner that it cannot be seen in the loaf, being completely dissolved in the crumb. Fresh dough will thus assimilate an amount of the meat corresponding to one pound within two pounds of the flour. It will really dissolve considerably more, up to one pound of meat to the dough of one pound of flour, but then the bread would not be so good. This bread is,,darker in. colour than a white wheaten loaf, though having a white crust, an excellent taste, and being highly nutritious. It constitutes, indeed, with a certain amount of fat, a perfect food, and can be assimilated with ready ease by persons labouring under difficulties of the digestive organs.
It is to be leavened by under half an ounce of compressed yeast to the pound of flour. Ordinary bread contains proteid, and carbohydrate matters, also fat, in a very small quantity; so that meat and bread in combination afford the essentials' of a healthy diet.
The best way of preparing raw meat (a form of food which patients with very weak stomachs can digest more easily than most other sorts of nourishment) is to scrape a piece of tender, juicy steak with a blunt instrument, in a direction parallel to the' course of the fibres, which are thereby separated out from the connective tissue including them, the same being left behind. The fibres form a pulp, which may be seasoned with celery-salt,' and a little pepper, being then served either in a sandwich between thin slices of bread, or. stirred into broth.
Certain acids become developed in meat by hanging, which improve its flavour, rendering it less insipid of taste than when fresh. Thus the flesh of hunted animals (wherein the same acids become immediately created by reason of the extreme muscular exertion undergone straightway before death) is of superior flavour. Another method for producing the same effect artificially is by soaking the meat in vinegar and water for a short time before cooking it, thereby giving to fresh meat a better taste, and making it more tender. Nevertheless, the flesh of an animal which has been slaughtered for food dies only by degrees as to its tissues and cells, which continue for a while to consume the food elements with which they are still remaining in contact; and various toxic substances are resultant, which now accumulate, since no longer do the skin, lungs, and kidneys, or bowels operate to carry off these poisonous excretions, whilst the dead animal contains no aerated, or purified blood, only the venous fluid with its retained urea, and other such effete matters of broken-down structures. To a varying extent this must be the condition of all the meat which comes, into the market for animal food. We can imagine how aggravated is the evil when the carcase has been kept for several days, or weeks.
Certain savage tribes poison their arrows by sticking the points into the flesh of such decomposing animals. "It must be admitted," says Dr. Haig, "as by no means improbable that the existence within a person's body, accustomed to the consumption of animal food, of semi-organized material in excess of what is required for maintenance, and repair of tissue, might tend to the development of a morbid structure taking the form of malignant cancerous growth".
But, per contra Dr. Sykes, having practised medicine for several years in China, tells (March, 1902): "That because of poverty the consumption of meat there is limited among the people in general; but, nevertheless, cancer prevails of various forms, though chiefly as scirrhus of the breast-gland".
As to the alleged increase of cancer during recent years, because of the large amount of animal food consumed in this country, especially by the working classes, the reply may be made that it is just among these very working classes that cancer has not increased. According to the medical statistics of the eighteenth, and early part of the nineteenth centuries it is found that these were times of great meat eating, and excesses in drinking, by the upper and middle classes, whose gluttony then lay particularly in the consumption of solid meat. Dr. Oldfield protests that flesh eating per se is not a cause of cancer; but that evidence goes to prove it is over-feeding the animals from which the meat is obtained, which makes such meat injurious in the direction at issue. And this comes about by retention of the products of decomposition remaining within the animal tissues, which produce in the eaters thereof an "unstable cell equilibrium." He found that in India cancer was practically non-existent in all those areas where the vegetation was sparse, and where the animals killed for food had been constrained to live hardly; whilst the disease was more prevalent where the vegetation was ranker, and where the animals used for food were more highly foddered.
Again, with respect to pulmonary consumption, the Jews in this country are known to have a remarkable freedom therefrom, their percentage of deaths in London from this disease being less than half that found among the general population. Probably the rigid inspection exercised over the meat supplied to the Jews has (together with other hygienic observances) much to do with this immunity. Moreover, the animal organ within the carcase of beasts slaughtered for their market, which is most diligently overhauled, and most severely tested, is the lung. "Warts" in the lung create a suspicion of tuberculosis; and any induration, or any presence of purulent matter in, or about such "warts" (or "grapes"), or the smallest amount of pleuritic adhesion, is sufficient to cause rejection of the meat.
With regard to the Kosher meat of the Jews, to make sure of the knife used for slaughtering these animals being without flaw as to its edge (so as to minimize the pain felt by the beast) it is examined four or five times a week, sometimes even daily; and one of the most curious spectacles of the slaughter-house is that of the grave and reverend Signors (who are named Dayanim, or Judges) passing a searching eye over the knives, and over the general arrangements, to see that they are perfect. If everything is not religiously correct, the butcher officials may expect to be suspended. The beast is cast to the ground, and its throat being then cut it bleeds to death. Finally the leaden seal, with the word "Kosher" imprinted on it, is affixed to the carcase, signifying that the meat may be eaten by orthodox Jewry. The whole process takes about four and a half minutes to execute.
Englishmen from the time of the middle ages, have always held the reputation of being the fiercest fighters, because of eating so much meat. But a penalty is paid by thus brutalizing the man at the expense of his higher intellectual faculties. Robert Louis Stevenson has exemplified this danger in his wonderful story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, twin characters strangely opposite, but combined in the same individual, with adverse displays at different times; as already told about in detail (see page 45).
Respecting Bones, "their utility for alimentation was discovered by the dog," said Cadet Devaux (1803), who imitated that animal by breaking up, comminuting, and moistening the bones of edible animals. He proved to his satisfaction that bones are nutritive, by allowing to dogs the choice between soup, and bones, when the animals chose the bones, and left the soup. M. Devaux pulverized bones, and called his method the "Solution of the Gordian knot," and the "Egg of Columbus".
"But," said Chevreul (1870), "no person of sound sense and taste would consent to drink the bouillon d'os".
With respect to the much extolled forms of highly compressed meals in lozenge, or tabloid form, now offered to the public, so that they who run may eat without the delay of sitting down to a time-wasting meal, or so that extra supplies may be carried in the pocket, "there are distinct limits" (says Dr. Hutchison) "beyond which the concentration of food cannot be carried; and the idea that food tablets may be prepared one or two of which would be the equivalent of an ordinary meal, is found to be an impossible dream; at the most all that can be done is to drive off the water which the food contains in excess, and even then most of it must be returned to the food before it can be eaten." (See Lozenges, p. 437).