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.
Animal food in the form of meat, or the flesh of ox, calf, sheep, lamb, pig, and other animals, consists mainly of muscular substance, proteid, meat juices, and fat, being the highest kind of sustaining nutriment for man. It may be taken sometimes raw, under special conditions of deficient health, but is almost always sent cooked to table, either roasted, boiled, broiled, baked, or stewed. Full particulars as to meat constituents, and the methods of preparing them, are to be found explained in Kitchen Physic. Great care should always be exercised as to the quality, and soundness of meats which are to be served, as well for persons in good robust health, as for the weakly, and the convalescent. It must be remembered that flesh meat which shows the slightest sign of incipient decomposition is dangerous. Heat sufficient to destroy bacterial life never reaches the middle of large pieces of meat during their cooking; it penetrates only slowly into the interior of the flesh, and never reaches therein to the degree of 100° C.; so that, if present within the meat, most of such bacteria would probably survive the ordinary process of cooking, and in any case their spores would be certain to retain a dangerous vitality.
If the juice which can be expressed from cooked meat is a turbid liquid, then it is likely that the temperature in cooking has not exceeded 56° C.; if it is of a clear red, then the temperature has probably risen to between 50° and 60° C, but not exceeding 65° C.; if up to 70° C. the colour of the meat juice changes to brownish red; and between 75° and 80° C. to yellow. With respect to cold meat, it must be noted that if, after being cooked, and become cold, it remains exposed to any injurious influence, such as dust, flies, or noxious smells, even within a few hours it will generate microbic bacilli in large numbers, which are prejudicial to health. Cold meat-jelly is used as a prolific germinator in every experimental laboratory; so that re-cooked, hot meat is always more wholesome, and a safer food, than cold cooked meat, unless quite recent, and absolutely fresh.
Broiled Meat is less likely to contain microbes, or bacilli still living, than meat roasted in joints, because in these latter the heat about the middle of the roasted joint does not reach a degree destructive to the microbes; whereas within the thinner broiled meats it attains a considerably higher degree, such as will put an end to the micro-organisms. No animal parasite in meat can withstand a temperature of 70° C. as attained in ordinary cooking, which therefore renders it free from any such elements of infection; but this is not the case as regards the pathogenic bacteria of typhoid, or putrescence. "Planked" meat (and fish) are in this way made antiseptic, as well as very palatable. Baked food done on a suitable plank in the oven is essentially wholesome, and dainty. On Easter Sunday (1512), in the Bay of the Cross, U.S.A., the natives were found cooking fish upon logs with a fire upon the beach. Of course the plank must be of a proper sort, recent oak being capital for the purpose; it contains pyroligneous acid, which rises by the heat of baking.
Also animal oil flows out of the meat, or fish, into the plank, and meets the pyroligneous acid, so that each being hot, they chemically unite, and a gas is produced which permeates the meat, or fish, as it were "curing" the substance, and imbuing it with an appetizing taste, and relish. The food cooked in this way becomes immediately converted within the stomach and intestines into chyle, and is readily digested. By which plan oily fish which would be otherwise difficult of digestion, and would cause distress, also roast pork, and the like, become readily digestible; but of fish only the oily sorts can be planked in cooking, whilst nearly all kinds of meat are improved by the process.
Ordinary meat-gravy furnishes nearly 50 per cent of uric acid. During continued fever there is a rapid waste of nitrogenous elements of the bodily structures, such as would in health be best restored by lean meat, and proteids of a like sort. But under such conditions of illness these are not admissible, and "it is better," as Dr. Hutchison teaches, to give then the proteid-sparers, such as gelatin, the carbohydrates, and fats, than to encumber the body, and tire the digestive energies with any free supply of proteids themselves. "Milk should always form the basis of fever diet; about four pints in the day will generally be sufficient, either given plain, or diluted with some alkaline effervescing water. If seeming to be needed, one or two teaspoonfuls of milk sugar, dissolved in a little hot water, may be added to each tumblerful of the milk. Beef-tea, or simple broths, may also be allowed, about a pint a day, except when diarrhoea is present." No patient with chronic kidney disease should make use as food of beef-tea, or bouillon, or the so-called beef extracts.
These substances are concentrated solutions of salts identically the same as those which go to form the urine itself, in addition to some albumin; whereby the kidneys are already overworked, seeing that the blood is surcharged with these toxic products. A milk diet will be the proper course to adopt, dilated or skim milk being preferred, wherein the proportion of helpful proteid remains undiminished, and the harmless fat is retained.
Stewing is in many respects the ideal method for cooking meat: it coagulates the proteids without hardening the fibrous tissues. As concerning these proteids (superlative sustenance for restoring nervous power, and repairing muscular loss of substance) lean beef contains, roughly speaking, twice as much as wheat flour; but beef is about four times as dear as flour; therefore one may estimate that proteids from the animal source are quite twice as costly as proteids from the vegetable source, only there are additional stimulating, and cordial principles in the former, which are lacking in the latter. When the proteid of meat is swallowed, and reaches the stomach, then this animal food is converted by the gastric juice into peptones, as the first stage of digestion. Now the same early digestive process can be artificially brought about beforehand, outside the body, prior to eating the meat; and it is contended that in such a way the stomach is saved efforts which can be then utilized for the later stages of digestion.