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mild flavor, is universally agreeable and acceptable as a food; it is produced abundantly and cheaply, is easily.cooked, and forms a variety of dishes, and is rich in the elements of nutrition. This grain varies in quality, dependent upon its geograpbical distribution. Thus the wheat produced in Southern Europe, the shores of the Black Sea, the steppes of Asia, the Caucasus, the interior of Russia, and the great west of North America is usually preferred. The effect of season is practically as great as that of climate; the grain grown in hot seasons being harder and more nitrogenous than that grown in a cold and wet season. The whole of the grain is utilized as a food, even the bran being rich in albumen and salts; while at the same time when contained in bread, it by its mechanical action renders the bread more porous and easy of digestion, and at the same time it gently scratches the mucous coat of the intestinal tract, promoting its activity. The inner portion of the scales contain much nitrogen and gluten and a peculiar ferment called cerealin.
The proximate composition of wheat is, in one hundred parts : Water, 15; albuminoid and allied substances, 10.8; starch, 66.3; sugar,
1.2; fat, 2; salts, 1.7. Indian corn is essentially an American institution, and in the not very remote past it constituted almost the sole bread supply of our "daddies," and with its product, "the hog," was almost
” the sole food supply of the rural districts. Like the negro's rabbit, it was good for nearly everything-good as roasting-ears, good to make hoe-cake, good as johnny-cakes, good to make mush, and good to make whisky, all staples of "ye olden times.” The taste for this bread formed in the youth of our fathers and mothers still clings to them, and visions of hog-jowl, turnip greens, and pone-bread are to them fraught with most pleasant anticipations. For many years, until in the near past, it has been much neglected as a food supply. The new processes of milling are, however, now again bringing it into repute not only in America, but in Europe, where the many Irish famines have greatly stimulated its consumption and diffusion; and because of the merit in corn products we look for it a more general recognition as a food supply among the inhabitants of this and other
nations. American trade is peculiarly interested in this question, there being comparatively but little corn grown in other parts of the world. In the future it may constitute a considerable export item.
Corn commends itself to our consideration for many reasonsviz., the wide geographical limits adapted to its cultivation, its large yield and consequently comparative cheapness, and its great nutritive properties. The dishes that can be prepared from its various forms are of much greater variety than can be prepared from wheat. It is easily digested, and has anti-constipating qualities. The large proportion of nitrogen which it contains renders it a more stimulating food than wheat. It is essentially the poor man's food, and may be made the rich man's luxury.
The composition of this grain is as follows in one hundred parts: Water, 14; nitrogenous elements, 11; starch, 64.7 ; sugar, 0.4; fat, 8.1; salts, 1.7. The quantity of carbon in one pound is 2.800 grains, and of nitrogen 121.6 grains. The time required for its digestion is from three to three and one-half hours.
Centuries ago, Ruth gleaned for barley in the waving fields of Boaz near Bethlehem for weeping Naomi; and according to Mrs. Finn, it is still used to make bread to a large extent in Palestine and other Eastern countries, particularly India. It is also used to a considerable extent in some parts of the continent of Europe. In this country both barley and rye are used, but to an inconsiderable extent for the fabrication of bread, and are principally used in the manufacture of malt, ales, and beers. In nutrient properties both are much inferior to maize and wheaten flour.
Rice forms a large proportion of the world's food, and its use is hoary with the frost of ages. We learn that it was used, both whole and ground, in England in the fourteenth century. As it is not raised in England, it must have been imported from some foreign country. We give a recipe of that period for its preparation, which we commend to our housewives of the present time as very nice.
“Resmolle.—Take almond blanched and draw hem up with wat, and alye (thicken] it with flo of rys, and do pto [thereto) pounds
of gyng, su, and salt, and lake it be not standying, messe it and stand it forth."
This grain upon which millions of people feed is of two varieties—"upland” and “sea-level.” The former is principally grown in the Orient, and as an example of the second may be mentioned South Carolina rice; the latter is esteemed much the best. Even in these varieties there is a vast difference in size, color, density, and in their cooking properties; in some the grains remaining distinct, and in others breaking up into an homogeneous, mucilagenous mass.
As a food, rice is used in some countries ground into meal. In this country it is usually prepared by boiling or baking with milk, eggs, etc., in the form of puddings. The rice cakes of
. South Carolina and the pumpkin pies of New England have long been celebrated in their respective localities.
As a nutrient, rice is much inferior to the cereals already mentioned. The grain consists almost wholly of the smallest starch granules known, and is relatively destitute of nitrogenous ele- 3 ments.
The potato, both Irish and sweet, is a tuber, and is in universal demand throughout the civilized world. It may be saidii to be the bread of the peasantry of an entire nation (Ireland).st According to Fothergill, the introduction of the potato revolu»d tionized the fare of Europe in winter; and of all vegetablegii grown in temperate climates, few probably are of more valudo than the potato. The potato is much influenced in quality byo the varying conditions of habitat, climate, soil, etc. The chem-it ical constitution of the various varieties is, however, about tbele same, and they are selected merely with a view to their physicalo qualities, such as size, waxiness, mealiness, etc. The proximate i elements vary much with the season and degree of ripeness (I The potato may be stated to contain water, nitrogen, starchuje sugar, fat, and various salts, notably the salts of potash. Itåst almost deficient in mineral matter, but this deficiency is usually made up in the cor
in the composite character of the dishes in which it is a component constituent.
арав Limited space admonishes us that we cannot farther purruti
the description of the various foods which enter into the dietary
Thus far we have considered partially the two great groups of nitrogenous and carbo-hydrates, constituting the bulk of animal reconstructives.
We wish we had space to consider the subject of "prepared baby foods,” of which there are many varieties on sale.
Of artificial digestion we will have something to say, and of the agents which enter into the process.
Even in health there is a great difference in the tolerance of the different foods by different individuals. What in youth was bread to us has now in age turned into a stone, and what was once fish has now turned into a serpent. What is savory and digestible with one individual is unsavory and indigestible with another. In this matter every individual is a law unto himself, and tlie advice of good old Paul to “prove all things, and hold fast to that which is good,” is to be commended.
As a people we are a nation of dyspeptics, and Charles Dickens struck the key-note to this lamentable state of affairs when he characterized us as a nation of “ food bolters."
Disintegration and solution constitutes the digestive act, and the whole process is essentially a fermentative one. To maintain all the organs concerned in this process in a condition of healthy functional activity, presupposes the necessity of presenting the food to these organs for their action in a condition to secure the minimum of labor in the process of their digestion. One of these conditions would be that all food used should be fresh and in a healthy chemical condition. Another that it should be properly cooked, for without proper cooking no food can be palatable or digestive. Cooking is not menial, but is, or rather should be, a great artistic profession. The great author, Dr. Johnson, said he did not think the subject beneath his consideration, and said: “I could write a better book of cookery than ever has been written. It should be a book on philosophical principles.” The celebrated Dr. Kitchener is said to have possessed a library upon this subject of no less than two hundred and fifty volumes. Ancient cookery, before the days of chemistry, was solely directed to the fabrication of dishes to tempt the palate and minister to the orgies of gluttony. Liebig has, however, by his researches aud discovery in organic chemistry, done more than any one else to elevate the art to that standard of rational and scientific comprehension of nature's laws and requirements, so imperatively demanded by her for the proper exercise of her organic functions.
With a view of securing the presentation of properly prepared food for digestion, nature has placed a sentinel at the gateway to the alimentary canal, and that sentinel is the palate, and it is a a veritable autocrat, an imperious ruler, that must be satisfied even before the stomach is consulted.
Assuming that food is presented to us in proper quality and quantity, and that the individual is in health, nature usually supplies ferments for carrying the process to a finish; but if the
organism is disordered, and the food in quality and quantity is such as to impose extraordinary labor upon the organs, then nature is sometimes a stubborn dame, who ca!ls a balt and rejects an unworthy or injudicious offering. It is right here that the physician can do a great work by supplying partially predigested foods and ferments necessary to aid tired or worn-out nature in her efforts to consummate perfect digestion, and this can only be done when be has a comprehensive knowledge of all the steps and requirements of the process.
We have said that digestion is a fermentative process. This, however, is physiological, and not pathological, and when properly performed renders crude food capable of absorption, and of passing through the animal membrane by osmosis for the making of blood and the reconstruction of tissue.
Each ferment of the process has a different and special function to perform. Ptyalin found in the saliva begins the conversion of starch into glucose; pepsin changes proteids or nitrogenous foods into peptones ; pancreatin and diastase, complete the transformation of starchy matters into grape, sugar, and trypsin, and bile emulsify fats.
Man is an omniverous animal, with a slight leaning to the carniverous, and selects bis food from all nature. These are generally the nitrogenous organic principles of the animal kingdom,