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.
Melt one ounce of butter in a stewpan, put in the Endive, and heat it without browning it; dredge a small quantity of flour over it, and stir in one teaspoonful of thick, raw cream; season with a quarter of a teaspoonful of salt, a pinch of castor sugar, and a suspicion of grated nutmeg; then colour to a delicate green with juice of spinach, or of parsley. Let the puree simmer gently at the side of the range for about a quarter of an hour. Immediately before dishing it up work in a few tiny lumps of fresh butter; pour out into a hot dish, and serve garnished with triangles of toast, and sprays of fresh parsley".
The Dandelion Plant contains chemically "taraxacin," inulin (a sort of sugar), gluten, gum, and an odorous resin which specially stimulates the liver. Probably this reputed virtue was at first, in times long past, assigned to the herb mainly according to the doctrine of signatures, because of its bright yellow flowers of a bilious hue. But more modern, and more scientific experience quite vindicates the medicinal claims of this plant (leaf, and root) for remedying an indolent function of the bile-making, and bile-distributing organs, with a disposition to jaundice. The root abounds with a milky juice which is thick, sweet, and albuminous during the winter, but bitter and acrid in summer time; it is at its best for yielding juice in November. A decoction may be usefully made by slicing the root, and boiling one part thereof for fifteen minutes in twenty parts of water, straining this when cool, and sweetening with brown sugar, or honey, if desired. A small teacupful may be taken once, or twice a day. The leaves should be blanched by being covered in the earth as they grow, and are best for a Salad in spring time.
The Dandelion root may be serviceably roasted, and ground, so as to be mixed with coffee, making a capital dietetic combination.. It has some tendency to provoke urination at night, by reason of which one of its vulgar appellations has been conferred, - "Quasi herba lectiminga, et urinaria".
Constitutional Struma (as it is called), scorbutic tendencies, and scrofula are innate morbid proclivities, more or less identical, and varying in degree; they render their subjects especially liable to tubercular disease, though it is not the case that all the ailments of scrofulous persons are indicative of, or dependent on tubercular deposits. It is against strumous, and scrofulous developments, that many of the fresh herbs employed in Salads are specially beneficial, this being remarkably the case with respect to the various Cresses. The kindred maladies of such a nature to which the Watercress, and its allied plants are antidotal, get the name of scrofula, from the Latin word "scrofa," a burrowing pig, as signifying the destructive mischief done radically to important vital glands within the body by this ruinous undermining hereditary disease. Perhaps the quaint lines which nurses have been long accustomed to repeat whilst fondling the fingers, one by one, of their amused babes, bear a sly meaning which imports this bugbear of a scrofulous taint.
The said familiar distich runs thus as each finger, when handled in its turn, is personated as a fabulous little pig: "The first small piggy doesn't feel well; the second one hastens the doctor to tell; the third little pig has to hunger at home; and the fourth little pig can of dinner eat none; then the fifth little pig, with a querulous note, cries, 'Weak! weak! weak!' from its poor little throat".
"AEgrotat multis doloribus porculus ille:
Ille rogat fratri medicum proferre salutem:
Debilis ille domi mansit vetitus abire:
Carnem digessit nunquam miser porculus ille: ' Eheu,' ter repetens, ' Eheu,' perporculus, ' Eheu,'
Vires exiguas luget plorante susurro".
About Norfolk the digits are called popularly "Tom Thumbkin,"
"Willy Wink-in," "Long Gracious," "Betty Bodkin," and "Little Tit".
In Cogan's Haven of Health (1589) it was told that "Lettuce is much used in Sallets in the summer tyme, with vinegar, oyle, and sugar, and salt, and is formed to procure appetite for meats, and to temper the heate of the stomach, and liver." For a simple "Salade a la Francaise": "Separate the Lettuce, leaf from leaf, and wash them very thoroughly; shake them in' a Salad basket, and dry them lightly on a soft serviette; then tear the leaves into pieces of a proper size; rub the inside of the Salad bowl with a split clove of garlic; put the Salad presently into the bowl, dusting it with a little salt, and a little white pepper; next add oil, and vinegar (one tablespoonful of the oil to two of the vinegar; mix lightly, and thoroughly with the hands (not with fork, spoon, or knife), and let the Salad be served at once for immediate use." As a preliminary to the above, after picking away all the decayed, or damaged leaves, the Lettuce parts, when well washed, should stand for about fifteen minutes in salted water, and then be left for a few hours in fresh water, changed at intervals.
Likewise for "Salade d'Orange": "Proceed in the same way, but rub the inside of the Salad bowl with a split onion, squeezing out the juice as thoroughly as practicable; add the Salad, and accompaniments as above; then add a quarter of a clove of garlic (finely minced), a large orange freed completely from skin, pith, and pips, and torn into small pieces; mix assiduously, and finally add from three to six drops of tabasco, (a sauce made spicy with Jamaica Pepper and Clove-Cassia,) mix again, serve, and your guests will rise up, and call you blessed." Gerarde has said about the Lettuce: "Being in some degree laxative, and aperient, the Lettuce is proper for hot, bilious dispositions." And Parkinson adds: "Lettuce eaten raw, or boyled, helpeth to loosen the belly; and the boyled more than the raw".
The Germans wax enthusiastic over the charms of Kertoffelen Salade, also over their famous Beetroot Salad, "Rotte Ruben Salade." For the Spanish Salad (Gaspacho), this is made with bread, and vegetables, the bread-crumbs being soaked in water, or broth, and squeezed rather dry in a cloth; then salt is added, also olive oil, some red, or green pimentoes, some tomatoes, and vinegar. In Spain this Salad is eaten with a spoon made out of an excavated crust of bread, if a permanent spoon is not at hand. It should be noted that the vinegar here is a mistake, because it would hinder digestion of the starches in the bread; fresh lemon-juice should be substituted. Sir Thomas Browne, in Religio Medici, declared: "I could digest a Salad gathered in a churchyard as well as in a garden. I wonder not at the French with their dishes of frogs, snails, and toadstools; nor at the Jews for locusts, and grasshoppers; but being amongst them make them my common viands, and I find they agree with my stomach as well as theirs; at the sight of a toad, or viper I find in me no desire to take up a stone to destroy them'.