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SOURCES OF OUR FOOD SUPPLY.-I.
THE amount of food required for maintaining the human body in a healthy state
varies considerably with the age, occupation, and habits of persons, as well as
with the climate and season. Thus, Dr. Playfair is of opinion that 3½ oz. of
flesh-formers should be eaten by those who do not work hard, or take great
exercise, but that 6 oz. are required daily by those who are engaged in hard
productive labour. It has also been calculated that those who are engaged in
severe mental labour will require about the same quantity.
If these amounts be correct, each person-man, woman, and child would, on an average, consume about 62 lbs. per year. The difference in the amount of flesh-formers between 62 lbs. per head a year and that which is produced, shows the quantity which must be imported, or the surplus which can be exported, accordingly as the production is less or greater than the weight named. As it has been shown, approximately, that England does not produce more than about 43 lbs. per head, it is evident that we must obtain large food supplies from abroad and it will be one of the objects of this paper to furnish this information.
The last census of Great Britain shows that the food supplies of the country must have diminished rather than increased since 1861, as the number of agricultural labourers has decreased, whilst that of artisans has become considerably larger. In spite of the large quantity of cattle and preserved meat brought to this country, the price has risen enormously during the last four- or five-and-twenty years.
In consequence of this increased value, many importations of preserved meat in various forms have been made. Pickling was one of the earliest plans, and subsequently drying and smoking, which has met with fair success; but the meat thus treated is often objected to in consequence of its occasional hardness and saltness. The most ordinary mode of preserving meat is by packing it in tins, covering it with a lid soldered down so as to be airtight, with the exception of a small hole, then boiling it in a solution of chloride of calcium in water, so as to drive off a considerable proportion of its water, and, when done, filling up the hole with solder. The meat thus prepared, which is known as "Australian meat," is generally too much done, owing to the high temperature (about 250º F.) to which it has been exposed. Another plan has lately been found to some extent successful - viz., that of bringing quarters of beef and mutton from America in rooms kept somewhat above the freezing-point. Live cattle have also been imported very largely.
THE SOURCES OF OUR FOOD SUPPLY.-II.
As the title of these papers implies, we shall not treat of any
articles of food excepting those ordinarily used in this country, and therefore
shall not refer even to the quadrupeds and other animals eaten in foreign
Countries. A consideration of the very large number of animals and of vegetable
products which are used in the different countries under the rule of the British
Government would extend these articles to far too great a length ; indeed, our
space forbids anything like a full consideration of the subject even within the
limits just mentioned.
Our food supplies are derived from all the three great kingdoms of nature-viz., the animal, vegetable, and inorganic. From the former we obtain what is ordinarily termed "meat," also poultry, game, fish, turtle, mollusks, as well as eggs, milk, cheese, and butter; whilst from the second we procure cereals, succulent vegetables, fruits, condiments, tea, coffee, and sugar; and from the third, water, and, as some say, air.
Beef is the flesh of oxen, cows, and bulls. There
are many breeds of the domestic ox (Bos taurus), which are divided into long and
short-horned and the hornless the latter of which are small, and furnish beef of
a very fine quality. But the quality of beef does not depend only on the breed,
but varies much according to the sex, age, and the food with which it has been
supplied. That of the ox or heifer is the best, and most easily digestible, has
more flavour, and if the animal have been properly fed, an intermixture of fat
and lean. The flesh should not be too dark, or of a light red colour, as in the
former case it may be diseased, and in the latter was most probably obtained
from a young ox, when it is not so sapid or tender. Cow beef is inferior to ox
beef, and if derived from an old animal is very tough, but if from a young one,
and especially if from an heifer, it is very good. Bull beef is hard and
indigestible, and only fit for sausages.
Veal is the flesh of a calf, which is often killed in England when it is only a few weeks old. A calf of eight or ten weeks gives better flavoured and more [-152-] digestible meat than one that is younger; but the flesh is by no means easy of digestion, as it contains more gelatine than that of older animals, and being softer more readily slips away from the teeth in the act of mastication. It also should be eaten sooner after it is killed.
As England does not produce sufficient cattle for consumption, large importations are made ever year. In 1872 the value of oxen and bulls imported alive from France was £12,939, and in 1875 it was £260,991 ; and from Germany, in 1872, it was £917,269, and 1875, £1,074,318; so that the importation from France is enormously on the increase. In addition to these amounts there were importations of salted meat from a America to the value of £277,317 in 1872, and of £346,469 in 1875. The total weight of cured beef imported from all places was 215,581 cwts. The value of the cows and calves imported from Germany was £157,393 in 1872, and £338,285 in 1875; so that our chief foreign supply of living oxen, cows, and calves, comes from Germany. Large cargoes of fresh beef are now being brought to this country in steamers from America and Canada in large compartments specially fitted up, which are freely supplied with air cooled down to 38°. It is found that this temperature keeps the meat as well as a lower one, without so much risk of its becoming bad on being removed from the compartment. The value of fresh meat imported in 1876 was £477,754, against £97,343 in 1875.
Mutton is obtained from sheep (ovis aries). This animal, unlike the ox, is not believed to have been indigenous here, but to have been introduced into Europe from Africa. The quality of mutton varies with the breed, age, and food of the sheep, the finest in flavour being obtained from the mountainous districts of Scotland and Wales and the downs of England. These sheep are also leaner than those fed in Lancashire, and are of a different breed. Sheep can live well on pasturage which is not sufficient for oxen, and are therefore fed largely on poor lands. The value of sheep and lambs imported from Germany in 1872 was £929,791, and in 1875 £662,720; so that, although the importation of oxen veal, and salted beef has increased, that of sheep has decreased. A considerable increase has, however taken place in salted and fresh meat, not being pork or beef and therefore chiefly mutton, as in 1872 the weight was only 55,354 cwts., whilst in 1875 it was 144,954 cwts The total weight of preserved meat-beef and mutton imported in 1872 was 350,729 cwts., and in 1875 only 171,373 cwts. Mutton hams come from Australia and are good eating. In addition to the above, a cargo of living sheep has very recently been brought from Canada in very good condition.
Pork is the flesh of the swine or hog (sus scrofa) which is derived from the wild hog - an indigenous animal of Britain, crossed with the foreign breeds of China Africa Spain, and Portugal. The flesh is enclosed in a layer of fat, which when melted down forms lard; so that in this respect it differs from that of other animals. It is one of the most useful animals for food which we possess, as it will live on almost any food, and can readily be preserved by salting. It is also very savoury, and when young is delicate, although even then difficult of digestion. Pigs are subject occasionally to a disease known as measles (Trichina spiralis), so that uncooked hams, bacon, or sausages, should never be eaten. The number of swine imported from Germany has much decreased since 1871, when it was 128,188, whilst in 1872 it was only 4,711, and in 1875, 10,050. The quantity of salt pork brought from America and Germany has, however, somewhat increased, as the value from the former country in 1872 was £300,032, and in 1875 £369,272; and from Germany £56,264 in 1872, and £67,218 in 1875. The value of bacon and hams imported from America in 1872 was £3,458,550, and in 1875 it reached the enormous sum of £5,469,662 ; whilst the imports from Germany in 1872 were only £523,927 against £1,339,024 in 1875 so that we received nearly seven million pounds worth of these articles of food during 1875. In 1876 this large total had increased to £8,554,229, being an excess of more than a million and a half sterling in one year. American bacon loses in cooking a large proportion of its weight, as does also the pickled pork, in consequence of the pigs having been fed upon acorns. There are three qualities of pickled pork imported into this country: "mess," which consists altogether of sides; "prime," of three shoulders, without feet and other joints ; and "cargo," of 30 lbs. of head, four shoulders, and other joints in each barrel.
Venison is obtained from the deer (Cervus), of which there are three kinds in this country-the red deer (Cervus Elephas), which is the largest, and rarely found wild in England ; the fallow deer (Cervus Dama), which is smaller and paler than the former, and is the kind used for stocking our parks ; and the roe deer (Cervus Capreolus), which has become very scarce in Scotland, and is not met with except in certain districts of the Highlands. The male red deer is called a hart, and the female a hind; the male fallow deer a buck, and the female a doe. The red deer and the roe-buck are indigenous. Venison affords but a very limited food supply, but it is much esteemed, especially the haunch; when obtained from a wild animal it is more difficult of digestion than from a park deer.
The flesh of the Goat (Capra Hircus) is not much eaten in England, but is more frequently used in Wales, where it is considered nearly equal to venison. The flesh of the kid is tender, and considered by many as a delicacy, but has not much flavour. The milk is richer than that of the cow.
Amongst the novelties which have been imported from Australia is the meat of the Kangaroo. It much resembles rabbit in colour and flavour, and the tail produces a capital soup, which is prepared in Australia and sent here in hermetically-sealed tins.
THE SOURCES OF OUR FOOD SUPPLY.-III.
MEAT, POULTRY, AND GAME (continued from p. 152).
Rabbits (Lepus cuniculus) afford very useful
food, being easily digested and very delicate. The wild rabbit is met with in
great numbers in dry and sandy districts, such as those of Norfolk and
Cambridgeshire. There are several varieties of tame rabbits, the flesh of which
differs somewhat according to the colour of the skin, that of the hare-coloured
being darker and more full-flavoured than the others. Large quantities are
imported from Ostend. Rabbits are also imported in tins from several parts of
The Hare (Lepus timidus) is classed with game, but as it belongs to the same family as the rabbit, we notice it here. It is found all over Europe, but is rarely imported.
Having now very briefly mentioned the quadrupeds which form part of our food supply, we will refer to those organs which are specially prepared for use. The tongues of the ox, cow, and reindeer are largely imported from Russia, Norway, South America, and Australia. From the three former countries they are generally sent cured and dried. The reindeer tongues are the most highly esteemed, being very full-flavoured, but those of the ox and cow imported from Australia appear to be but little regarded, although they are rich and full-flavoured. Kidneys in tins are also sent from Australia, as well as kidney soup. It is also almost certain that ox cheek enters into the composition of some of the soups imported into England, and tripe is also sent here in sealed tins.
Sausages are imported from France, Germany, and Italy, and are chiefly made from uncooked smoked meat mixed with herbs. The kinds best known are those which come from Aries, Bologna, Lyons, Modena, Wirtemberg, and other parts of Germany.
Birds afford a rather considerable portion of our food supplies, and are of two classes - the domesticated and the wild. The former include the common fowl, the turkey, goose, and duck; and the latter not only game, but the lark, pigeon, &c.
The Common Fowl (Gallus domesticus) is not only of great importance for its flesh, but for its eggs. It is supposed to have had its origin in some species of wild fowl in India, but is now found domesticated nearly all over [-190-] the world, so that our present improved breeds are in many instances the result of crossing with foreign varieties.
The Turkey (Meleagris Gallopavo) was brought, in the sixteenth century, from Mexico, and is now widely dispersed over the whole of Europe. Large quantities of young turkeys are imported from France and fattened in Norfolk and other parts of England. The black is considered to be the nearest to the original stock, and furnishes the finest birds.
The Guinea-fowl (Meleagris Numidia) originally came from the western coast of Africa. Its flesh is not so white as that of the common fowl, but more nearly approaches that of the pheasant in colour and taste.
The Goose (Anser domesticus) is a prolific source of food, very large flocks being kept in the fens. It is a very savoury bird, but unless eaten very young is difficult of digestion. The original of the domestic goose is the wild goose (Anser ferns). The so-called solan goose, which is eaten in the north of Scotland, is a pelican.
The Duck (Anas Boschas) is indigenous to this country, large flights of wild ducks being found during winter weather in the fens. Those from Lincolnshire are the best. Domesticated ducks are met with almost everywhere, and are comparatively delicate eating if fed upon grain and vegetables.
The Widgeon (Mareca Penelope) is a migratory bird of the duck genus, which is in season from October to December. The flesh often has a fishy flavour.
Wild and tame Pigeons, the parent stock of which is believed to be the rock-dove (Columba Livia), are very plentiful in this country, and much used for food, but the tame birds which have never flown are the most tender.
Larks (Alauda), although so small, are used as an article of food, and their flavour is very much liked. Plover (Charadrius), a kind of water-fowl, of which there are several varieties - the Wheat-ear (Saxicola oenanthe), which is considered by some as equal to the Ortolan (Emberiza hortulana), the Lapwing (Vanellus cristatus), and very young rooks (Corvus frugilegus), as well as numerous other delicate and mostly small birds, also form part of our food supplies.
Game.- The following animals are enumerated as game by the English laws - viz., hares, pheasants, partridges, grouse, bustards, the latter of which have disappeared from this country. The following are also protected - woodcocks, snipe, quails, and landrails. The above-named birds afford a food supply which is much esteemed, the flesh having more flavour than that of most domestic birds, and being more nourishing, although it requires to be kept until decomposition is about to set in or has commenced, in order to render it tender and easy of digestion.
The Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) is said to have been originally brought from the banks of the Phasis in Asia Minor, and is now common in this and adjoining countries, but cannot be fully domesticated, although it will come to be fed. The Partridge (Perdix cinereus) is met with in large numbers in this country, France, Holland, and Germany. It eats very freely of insects, and is wilder than the pheasant. Its flesh is preferred by many to that of the pheasant, being fuller flavoured and more juicy. Grouse (Tetrao), of which there are several distinct varieties, are of very fine flavour. The Wood Grouse, cock of the wood, or capercailzie (Tetrao urogallus), a very large bird, often weighing from ten to sixteen pounds, had disappeared from this country, but was some years since re-introduced in the Scottish Highlands. Black Grouse, or black game (Tetrao tetrix) is much smaller than the capercailzie, but is larger than the ordinary Red Grouse (Tetrao or Lagopus Scottcus) which is that usually sold by our dealers in game. Both of these are found in mountainous districts of this country, and especially in the Highlands of Scotland indeed, the latter is believed to be found in Britain only.
The other protected birds which are not game are all birds of passage. The Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) is rather smaller than the partridge, and passes the winter in England. It is a much esteemed food. The Snipe (Scolopax gallinago) frequents marshy places, and occasionally breeds in Great Britain. The Quail (Coturnix vulgaris) much resembles a partridge, but is smaller, and comparatively rarely met with in this country. Quails are found in immense numbers about the shores of the Mediterranean, from whence they are occasionally imported. The Landrail, or Corncrake (Ortygometra crex), like the other migratory birds, inhabits marshy places, and is much sought after for its delicacy of flavour.
THE SOURCES OF OUR FOOD SUPPLY.- IV.
EGGS, MILK, BUTTER, ETC.
WE shall next consider eggs, milk, butter, cheese, and lard. The eggs
of all birds can be eaten be in in, but those of the domestic fowl are chiefly
used as food. The importation of eggs into this country has increased enormously
within the last few years, as in 1870 there were only 400,000,000 imported,
against 741,000,000 in 1875. The declared value in 1875 was £2,561,000, which
gives 8s. 3d. per great-hundred; and of this sum no less than £2,078,569
belonged to France, the remainder being taken by Belgium, Spain, Portugal, and
Germany. In 1876 the total was larger, having been £2,610,231. This enormous
importation is not to be wondered at, when their universal use is fairly
considered. All eggs contain a white or albuminous part, and a yellow portion,
the yelk [sic], which is made tip of fatty matters,
albumen, sulphur, salts, and water. The flavour varies very much, and depends
partially on the food ; so that sea-gulls' and ducks' eggs are strong, while
those of the common fowl, and especially of the plover, are sweet and full-flavoured.
The yelk is more easy of digestion than the white, and is often eaten separately
by invalids; but this varies according to the amount of cooking, as a
hard-boiled egg takes longer to digest than roast mutton - viz., about four
hours. The amount of nutritive matter in eggs is almost two-thirds of that in a
corresponding weight of meat.
The weight of eggs varies; that of the goose being from four to six ounces, that of the turkey about four ounces, of the duck from two to three, and of the fowl from one and a half to two ounces. Eggs readily spoil, so that if desired to be kept they should be dipped, when newly laid, in strong lime-water, and when dry dipped again a second and a third time, by which means the pores of the shell are closed, and access of air prevented.
Milk contains all the elements necessary for the proper nourishment of the body. The constituent parts vary according to the animal from which it is derived, as well as at different periods of lactation in the same animal. If milk of average quality be taken as a standard, we may say that it is composed of 87 parts of water, 3½ parts of fat, and 9½ parts of solids not fat. Good milk is occasionally richer, especially if from an Alderney cow, but is also sometimes poorer than this standard. Although the quantity of cream differs rather considerably, it should amount to 10 per cent, of the milk, and can be easily determined by placing the milk in a marked tube (a lactometer), and allowing it to stand for twenty-four hours, and reading off the quantity. Skim milk is not so much used as it should be, as it is equally as good for making puddings, for, by adding half an ounce of dripping or suet to each pint of skim milk used, a corresponding quantity of fat will be replaced for the cream removed. When a very rich milk is required for an invalid or a child, goats' milk should be used ; but if a milk for a delicate child, that of the ass is to be preferred. Warm milk is more easily digested than cold.
Preserved Milk is prepared by adding cane sugar, and sometimes glucose, in the proportion of nearly two ounces to each pint of milk, and evaporating it in vacuum-pans at a temperature of about 170° Fah., the moisture being removed by a fan worked by steam, until about 75 per cent. of the water is carried off. It is a very good substitute for fresh cows' milk, but is of course much sweeter.
Cream is that part of milk which rises to the surface after standing some time, and consists of small globules of fat intermixed with skim milk. Cream contains about 66 per cent, of water, 26½ of fat, rather less than 3 per cent, of nitrogenised matter and of sugar, with a little less than 2 per cent. of salts. It is sometimes used as a food by persons who are threatened with consumption.
[-211-] Butter is obtained by churning cream, and, when separated from the non-fatty part of milk, is well washed and pressed, to get rid of the butter-milk, which contains nitrogenous matter; but with the utmost care all the butter-milk cannot be removed, so that after keeping some time, butter becomes rank and offensive to the taste and smell. Salt butter, when good, usually contains about 6 to 8 per cent, of salt, 8 to 12 per cent. of water, some curd, and about 82 to 84 per cent, of butter-fat. Fresh butter should not contain more than from 6 to 8 per cent. of water. The quantity imported into this country has considerably increased of late years, as in 1871 we received from the United States butter to the value of £394,359, from France as much as £1,636,006, and from Germany £917,289, making a total from these countries of £2,947,654. In 1875 the sum was larger, as the value imported from the United States was £265,900, from France, the enormous amount of £3,387,219, and from Germany £643,906, making an aggregate of £4,297,025, which, large as it is, is less by nearly half a million than in 1874. Butter was also imported from Denmark and Holland, but the value is not separately specified in the official returns. The total weight imported in 1875 was 1,467,870 cwts., and the aggregate value £8,502,084; and in 1876 it had increased to £9,702,624.
Cheese was imported in 1875 to a larger amount than in any other year, the total weight being 1,627,000 cwts., of which 1,238,660 cwts. came from the United States and Canada. The importations have increased so rapidly that they are nearly double what they were eight years ago. The total value in 1875 was £4,709,508, of which £2,786,027 worth came from the United States; but in 1876 the total value had decreased to £4,251,428. Cheese is obtained from milk by causing the curd to separate by the action of an acid - rennet being generally used in this country. Some cheese is made from skim milk, whilst others are made from whole milk, with or without added cream, as in the case of Stilton. Gruyère and Parmesan are obtained from goats' milk, or a mixture of cows' and goats' milk. It is richer in nutritive elements than any other human food, containing more nitrogenised matter, and generally more fat than meat. Roquefort cheese contains the least and Neufchatel the most water, whilst the Roquefort and Stilton possess the largest proportion of fat. Parmesan cheese is made from skim milk, and is usually kept some time before use. Cream cheese is in reality little else than new curd, and has but little flavour until it has been kept a few days.
Lard is a very pure fat, and is derived from the loose fat of the pig by what is termed rendering it - an operation which requires great care. Canadian lard is often mixed with water to the extent of 15 to 20 per cent., while the best lard is either dry or does not contain more than 1 or 2 per cent., and a small quantity of salt. The value of lard imported from the United States and Canada in 1875 reached the large sum of £1,634,769, its weight being 540,244 cwts. ; in 1876 the value was £1,570,654.
The fish most used in this country are the sole, turbot, brill, cod, haddock,
plaice, hog, whiting, herring, mackerel, sprat, pilchard, skate, sturgeon,
halibut, john-dory, mullet, flounder, dab, eel, salmon, trout, char, bream,
pike, carp, tench, roach, dace, perch, smelt, gurnard, whitebait, anchovy, and
sardine. In addition to these we may mention oysters, lobsters, crayfish, crabs,
mussels, cockles, whelks, limpets, and scallops, as well as turtle.
Fish are out of condition, and consequently more or less unfit for food, in the spawning season, as the muscular structure becomes impoverished, especially about the abdomen. As a rule, fish begin to deteriorate as soon as the roe has acquired more than half its full size, and is decidedly inferior in nutritive value anti flavour just before spawning, so that a full-roed fish should not he selected, unless it be for the sake of its roe. Fish may he divided as food into two classes- viz., the red-blooded and the white-blooded. Amongst the former the salmon may be taken as the type and of the latter, the cod. As a ride, the flesh of red-blooded fish contains more oil, and possesses a higher nutritive value, than that of white fish ; indeed, the difference in the nutritive value of fish is greater than obtains in the flesh of mammalia. The salmon, eel, mackerel, and herring are probably the most nutritious fish used in this country. Several kinds of fish are preserved, either by salting, smoking, or other process. The chief of these are cod, herrings, pilchards, salmon, haddocks, anchovies, and sardines. The roe of fish is nutritious, and is often dried, as, for instance, that of the salmon and cod; whilst that of the sturgeon is also imported from Russia, under the name of caviare, and is much esteemed. The value of cured or salted fish imported into this country in 1875 was £1,042,961, and of other fish £223,616, making a total of £1,266,577, of which £283,220 worth came from France. The total weight was 840,090 cwts. The value in 1876 was about £150,000 more than in 1875.
Turbot (Pleuronectes maximus) is the best and one of the largest of our flat fish. It inhabits the northern and Mediterranean seas, but the best is taken off the Dutch coast, and is generally somewhat scarce and dear, although above 100,000 are brought to Billingsgate in a year. The turbot-fishing begins about the end of March and ends in September. The fish are taken by trawling in comparatively shoal water, and with hook and line in deep water. Those caught off the Scotch coast are not so fine-flavoured nor so high-priced as the others.
Brill (Pleuronectus rhombus) closely resembles turbot in its shape, but is superior to it in flavour and size. When large and in good condition, it is a fine fish, It is caught on most parts of our coasts, but the London market is chiefly supplied from the southern coast.
Sole (Pleuronectus Solea) is usually much smaller than the brill, but some taken off Plymouth have been nearly two feet long, and weighed, as much as six or seven pounds. The best are obtained near Plymouth and Torbay, but those from the vicinity of Dover are considered nearly as good. They are caught off various parts of the Irish coast, as well as in the Mediterranean and Baltic Seas. There arc several varieties of sole besides the common species- viz., the lemon sole, variegated sole, the zebra sole, the silver sole, but they are not so abundant. At the latter end of February they are usually full of roe, whet, their flesh is watery, but they soon recover. As, however, they do not all spawn quite at the same time, soles in good condition can be obtained nearly all the year round.
THE SOURCES OF OUR FOOD SUPPLY - V.
FISH (continued from p. 211).
THE Flounder (Pleuronectus flesus) inhabits both seas
and rivers, but, except that obtained from the Thames is but little esteemed.
It is in season from January to March, and from July to September.
The Plaice (Pleuronectus platessa) is very abundant in our own seas, as well as in the Baltic and Mediterranean. It is inferior to the turbot, brill, and sole, but, being cheap, is much used by the poor. The best are caught between Folkestone and Hastings, and arc known as "diamond plaice." They feed on small fish and shellfish, and are best about May and June.
Halibut (Pleuronectus hippoglossus) is by far the largest of our flat-fish, sometimes weighing nearly 300 pounds. Its flesh is very white, and, when small, is nearly equal to turbot. It is an inhabitant of the northern and Mediterranean seas, and is in season in March and April.
The Cod (Gadus callarus or morrhua) is found in immense shoals in the northern seas, and wanders about the coasts of Europe, but does not extend so far south as the Mediterranean. Its great resort is in the vicinity of the banks of Newfoundland, from whence it is brought to England in very large quantities. It is met with abundantly off Scarborough, and the north-east coast of Scotland, as well as on the Norfolk, Lincoln, and Irish coasts. The Doggerbank cod has a sharp nose, and its body is of a dark-brown colour, whilst the Scotch has a round, blunt nose, with a body of a light-yellowish ash- green. The usual size of good well-conditioned fish is about twenty pounds, but they have been met with weighing nearly eighty pounds. Salted cod is largely imported from Newfoundland. It is in season all the year, except from March to July inclusive but as some fish spawn earlier or later than the majority, good fish can be obtained even in summer.
The Haddock (Gadus aglefinus) is an inhabitant of the northern seas of Europe, and, when large, is firm and full- flavoured, It is generally from twelve to fourteen inches in length, and weighs from two to three pounds. They are in best condition from October to January. Cured haddocks are much used, the best being brought from [-230-] Scotland, especially from Findhorn, near Aberdeen; but considerable numbers are now cured in London.
The Whiting(Gadus or Merlangus vulgaris) is a very delicate and easily digestible fish, which is met with in our seas about half a mile or more from land. It is in season from November to the end of February. The English whiting rarely weighs more than a pound and half, but those taken off the Doggerbank occasionally turn the scam at six or seven pounds.
The Ling (Gadus molva) is a long slender fish, and abounds near the Orkneys and on the Yorkshire and Cornish coasts. It is in perfection from February to the end of May.
The Mackerel (Scomber scombrus) is a native of the European and American seas, and is in greatest perfection in the early part of the season, from April to June, when it contains but little roe, or in October, when it has recovered from spawning. It was supposed to emigrate to other seas, but is now believed to remain in the English seas all the year round. It is one of the best fish for food, as, although fat, and less watery than most other fish, it is delicate in flavour, easy of digestion, and very nutritious.
The Smelt (Osmerus eperlanus) is a small but delicate and delicious fish, which inhabits fresh water from August to May, and salt water during the summer, but is rarely met with between Dover and the Land's End. What is caught on that coast is called the Sand-smelt or Atherine, (Atherina presbyter), and is comparatively dry and coarse.
The Gurnard (Trigla cuculus) is an excellent fish, which is common on the English and Irish coasts; it is in season from September to January, but is rarely sold in London. There are the grey, red, sapphirine, and flying gurnards.
The Skate (Raia batis) is a large and comparatively thin fish, sometimes weighing nearly two hundredweight; it is caught off the coast from Cornwall to Kent, as well as off the Orkneys. The flesh is white, nutritive, and pleasant, and is much improved by crimping. It is in season from July to January.
There are several kinds of Mullet - those which are grouped as red (Mullus barbatus), and the grey (Mugil capito, M. cheno, and M. curtus). The former is a handsome fish, and is caught chiefly on the Cornish and Sussex coasts. It is in best condition in May and June. The grey mullet belongs to a different family, and is plentiful on our coasts. It is considered a fine fish, much 7 superior to the red mullet, and its roe is made into an inferior caviare.
The Eel (Anguilla vulgaris) is a migratory fish, which is caught both in fresh and salt water; one variety, the Conger Eel (Anguilla conger), is rarely found in fresh water. A large proportion of the eels sold in the London market are brought from Holland. This fish is extremely rich and nutritious. It is viviparous, bringing forth its young towards the end of summer.
The Salmon (Salmo salar) is a migratory fish, and is considered by most people as the king of edible fish. It is caught in the mouths of most European rivers, but our chief supply comes from Scotland, Ireland, and Holland. It is chiefly eaten when fresh, although a comparatively small quantity is pickled, dried, or preserved in tins. Salmon Trout (Salmo trutta) is considered nearly as good as salmon, but is rarely met with exceeding four or five pounds in weight, whilst salmon often weighs thirty or forty pounds, and one has been caught weighing eighty-three pounds.
The common Trout (Selmo fario) is a fish inhabiting rivers and lakes. It is generally about twelve or fifteen inches long, and two or three pounds in weight, but is occasionally met with of a much larger size.
The Char (Salmo salvelinus or alpinus) is a much-esteemed small fish, found chiefly in the lakes of Cumberland and Westmoreland. As regards pike, carp, tench. roach, dace, and other fresh-water fish, they are rather to be considered as objects of sport than of food, and therefore need not be further mentioned.
The Herring. There are said to be two kinds, Clupea Harengus and Clupea Leachii, both of which frequent our coast in immense numbers. The herring has been supposed to migrate to other shores, but it is now believed to go only into deep water. The common herring (C. Harengus) visits our coasts in the summer and autumn, appearing first at the Hebrides, and spawns between August and November, when it is called a "shotten herring". The other variety spawns in February, and is therefore in season when the others are out. When strongly salted it is called a "red herring," and when only slightly cured, a "bloater."
The Pilchard (Clupea pilchardus) frequents the Cornish and Devonshire coasts. It is a very fat fish, and is not much esteemed in England, except in the south-western counties ; but when cured, it is very largely exported. It reaches our coast in July, remains until October, and sometimes appears again towards the end of the year.
Whitebait (Clupea alba) is a small fish, which ascends the Thames in April, and is caught there, and in some other parts, until September. It is fat, like the other varieties of Clupea, and is highly esteemed. There is some doubt whether or not it is the young of the herring or shad, as the parent fish with roe in it has never been caught.
The Sprat (Clupea sprattus) much resembles the herring in its habits, and is much used by the poor. They are obtained chiefly from the coasts of Essex, Kent, and Suffolk, and are dried in large quantities in Yarmouth.
The Sardine (Clupea sardine) is somewhat allied to the pilchard, and is caught in large quantities in the Mediterranean. It is more used now than anchovies, and is imported preserved either in brine or oil, the latter being the highest-priced and the best. Small pilchards have lately been preserved in the same manner, and are equally as good.
The Anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus) is a small fish abounding in parts of the Mediterranean, especially on the coasts of Italy, Greece, and Spain, and is also met with off parts of France and Holland.
Lobsters (Homarus vulgaris) are met with on the rocky
coasts of England, but are chiefly obtained from the northern parts of Scotland
and from Norway. Preserved lobsters are brought from Norway, America, and other
places. The flesh is hard, and difficult of digestion. The best season for them
is from October to May.
The Crab (Cancer) is found in similar places to the lobster. There are two kinds - the common (C. pagarus), and a small variety (C. mances). The former are rich, and more easily digestible than lobster; the latter watery. They are in season all the year, except from May to July.
The Shrimp (Crangon vulgaris) is met with in shallow water along our coasts, and in large quantities.
Oysters (Ostrea edulis). The native oyster which is procured from the vicinity of Milton is esteemed the best, but almost all the English oysters are good. Those brought from France and America are not so delicate.
Large quantities of raw and preserved oysters are imported from America, where they are cheap and very plentiful. They are most digestible when eaten raw and are in season from the end of August to May. They are not fit for food during the spawning time, or for about two months afterwards.
The Scallop (Ostrea maxima), the Mussel (Mytilus edulis), the Cockle (Cardium edule), and the Periwinkle (Turbo littoreus), need only a bare mention, as they are not of much importance as food.
THE SOURCES OF OUR FOOD SUPPLY.—VI
VEGETABLE foods are divisible into nitrogenous and non-nitrogenous. All seeds
and much vegetable tissue contain the former, whilst starch and sugar belong to
the latter class : the former take the place of flesh, and the latter of fat,
when used as food. They also contain various mineral salts which are required
for building up the body, as well as many acids which are peculiar to them. It
is therefore evident, as chemistry as well as experience shows, that persons can
live on vegetables alone ; but it is probable that they require a greater
expenditure of vital force in converting them into animal tissues than is
necessary for meat or fish. Vegetables are also longer in being digested, even
when well cooked, and must be eaten in much larger quantities, as they contain a
larger proportion of indigestible matters. A vegetable diet is therefore best
suited for those whose digestion is active, and who can take a large bulk of
The produce of grain and green crops vary according to the weather, as whilst a hot season is generally favourable to the former, a cold and wet season is best suited for the latter. The proportionate value of the grain crops in the United Kingdom is about one-fourth of the total harvest. and is generally under £30,000,000 in value against about £260,000,000 for the remainder, when the value of the grass eaten by cattle is taken into account, as there were in 1875 only 3,5,4,088 aces under wheat, against 5,057,029 acres of green crops, above 6,000,000 acres of grass land, 69,172 acres of hops, nearly 24,000,000 acres of permanent pasture, and above 2,500,000 acres of orchards, market gardens, nursery gardens, woods, and plantations. It is therefore evident that a full crop of wheat is much less important, as regards the production of food, than of other produce. This is especially noteworthy, as reliable statistics show that in 1875 the value of the wheat grown was about £22,000,000, whilst wheat, wheat-meal, and flour were imported to the amount of £32,300,000. In 1876 the imports were not so great, that of wheat being valued at £23,140,766, of wheat flour, £4,729,206 — giving a total of £27,869,972. This large importation of wheat has been coincident [-280-] with a low price of bread and a high price of potatoes, which are imported in comparatively small quantities, so that the tendency of home agriculture has been to cultivate such crops as will give the largest return for outlay, and consequently it is probable that for the future there will be less grain and larger green crops grown than hitherto. The effect of short green crops is usually shown by a fall in the price of meat before Christmas—in consequence of the great expenditure necessary to keep and fatten cattle during the winter, when mangel-wurzel, turnips, and hay are high priced—and by a considerable rise in its price during the other winter months. In addition to the value of the wheat imported, there were above £20,000,000 worth of barley, maize, oats, and other cereals brought to this country in 1875, and rather more than £24,000,000 in 1876.
Wheat (Triticum) is the most important article of vegetable food, but varies materially in its quality according to the soil in which it is grown. As before stated, very large quantities are imported from abroad. The total imports have increased very largely since 1870, when they were, under the present system of calculating imports, only 30,901,229 cwts. of wheat in grain, against 51,876,517 cwts. in 1875. In addition to these, there were 6,136,083 cwts. of flour imported. The weight of grain and flour imported in 1875 from Russia was 10,157,847 cwts., from Germany 6,613,544 cwts., from France 3,573,777 cwts., from Egypt 2,112,138 cwts., from British North America 4,069,565 cwts., from the United States 26,372,151 cwts., and from other places less than 1,000.,000 cwts. each ; so that our largest supply is now derived from the United States, and the next largest from Russia. As Oats (Arena saliva) are chiefly used as food, for horses, and only in comparatively small quantities by man in Scotland and Ireland, we will merely mention that 12,435,888 cwts. (of which about one-half came from Russia) were imported in 1875: also 310,103 cwts. of Rye, and 118,168 cwts. of Buckwheat, were imported in the same year. Barley will be mentioned when treating of beer.
Maize (Zea Mays) is now brought to this country in enormous quantities, as in 1875 its value was £8,112,158, and in 1876, £12,744,432. Only a very small proportion of this was used for food of man, the chief part being eaten by horses instead of oats.
Rice (Oryza) is procured in large quantities from India and America. The total imported in 1875 amounted to 16,601 qrs. in the husk, and as much as 6,719,894 cwts. not in the husk ; the values being £27,440 of the former, and as much as £3,006,122 of the latter. The rice received from Bombay is sweet, large-grained, and somewhat reddish ; whilst that from Patna is smaller, and very white; whilst that brought from Carolina is con sidered to be the best, and fetches the highest price.
Pease.—The common Pea (Pisum sativum) is grown largely in England, and is eaten most commonly as an ordinary vegetable when in season. When dried and split, it is used in soup or as a pudding. It is very nourishing, as it contains a large quantity of nitrogenous matter, and about two per cent. of fat. There were 1,615,132 cwts. of pease imported in 1875, of which 773,432 cwts. came from British North America, and 501,125 cwts. from the United States ; a smaller quantity was imported in 1876.
Beans (Faba vulgaris) are but little used in the United Kingdom, except the Windsor or broad bean, and the kidney bean. There are two varieties of the latter—viz., the Dwarf or French Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), and the Scarlet Runner (Phaseolus multiflorus). When French beans are shelled and dried they are known as haricot beans. It is to be regretted that they are not eaten more generally in this country as an article of food, as they are highly nutritious.
THE SOURCES OF OUR FOOD SUPPLY.—VII.
VEGETABLE PRODUCTS (continued from p. 280).
Succulent Vegetables form a very
important kind of food, as their use assists in keeping away certain diseases,
such as scurvy, to which persons were formerly subject The most important of
these vegetables are the potato and other tubers, then the different varieties
of cabbage, and lastly mushrooms.
The Potato (Solanum tuberosum) was introduced into Ireland from Chili in the year 1565, by Sir John Hawkins and into England by Sir Francis Drake in 1585; and is now grown in almost ever, part of the civilised world. It contains 75 per cent, of water, about 16 per cent. of starch, 2 per cent. of nitrogenous matter, and 2 of dextrine and pectose; so that, unless eaten with skim milk or other nitrogenous food, it does not afford sufficient nourishment by itself; indeed, it appears to be of less nutritive value than rice. Potatoes require about the same time for digestion as bread — viz., from two and a half to three hours. Although this tuber is so extensively grown in the United Kingdom, yet large quantities are imported every year, the weight in 1875 being 4,696,132 cwts. Of these 3,055,000 cwts. came from France, 694,000 cwts. from Holland, 635,000 from Belgium, and 312,000 cwts. from other countries. The total value was £1,070,976 in 1875, and as much as £1,742,285 in 1876.
The other roots commonly used — viz., the turnip, carrot, parsnip, beet, and radish — are of much less importance as vegetables than the potato, and we shall therefore treat them as a group. The Turnip (Brassica Rapa) contains a very considerable proportion of water—viz., 91 per cent.; whilst the Carrot (Daucus Carota), which is much in nutritious, has only 83 per cent., with 6 of sugar, and 8½ of starch, against 2 only of sugar and 5 of starch in the turnip. The Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) contains 82 per cent, of water, with about the same quantity of sugar, and 1 per cent. more starch than the turnip. It is therefore evident that, as an occasional article of our food, the latter are far preferable to the turnip. As to the Radish (Raphanus sativus), it can scarcely be termed an article of food, as it is made up of little else than water and woody fibre. The turnip is said to have been brought here from Hanover, the carrot from Holland, whilst the parsnip is a native of Britain.
The Brassica, which is one of the most extensively cultivated genera of the cruciferoe, yields the Common Cabbage (Brassica oleracea, div. I, capitata), of which there are numerous kinds. It is a native of England, and is either eaten boiled or raw and pickled. Brussels Sprouts are considered by many the best eating of the cabbage tribe, but probably most persons prefer the Cauliflower and Broccoli (B. oleracea, dlv. botrytis). The cauliflower is not so hardy as the latter, comes into season much earlier in the year, and is believed to have been brought into this country from Cyprus. The Borecole, or Kale (B. oleracea, div. I, acephala), is not much used in England. The leaves of the young plants are more nutritious than [-301-] the heart of the full-grown cabbage, as they contain about 2 per cent. of nitrogenous matter, whilst the latter afford less than 1 per cent. Spinach (Spinachia oleracea) may practically be classed with the Brassica.
Alliaceous plants are more nourishing than the cabbage tribe, but are chiefly used in this country for flavouring, except by some of the labouring population. The Onions (Allium Cepa) imported front Portugal and Spain are large and mild, whilst the English are smaller and more pungent. The Leek (Allium Porrum), Chive (Allium Schoenoprasum), Garlic (Album sativum), and Shallot (Allium Ascalonicum), only require a mere mention. The same also may be said of the Endive (Chichorium Endivia), which was probably introduced from China; Celery (Apium graveolens), which is a native of England ; the Lettuce (Lactuca saliva), which came originally from the Greek Archipelago; and Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis), which is a native of this country.
Mushrooms can scarcely he considered articles of food, but rather as adjuncts. They contain about 90 per cent. of water, and 10 per cent. of cellulose, salts, and acids, and, with the exception of the Truffle (Tuber cibarium), are chiefly used in making sauces. Truffles grow in many parts of this country, but the largest quantities used here are imported from the South of Europe.
Starches are important articles of food, especially for the invalid, although their nutritive value is but small. Those best known are arrowroot, sago, tapioca, and semolina. The true Arrowroots are obtained from rhizomas, or roots, of the palm-tree (Maranta arundinacea), which grows in Bermuda, the East and West Indies, and other tropical countries. That brought from Bermuda is the most esteemed, and is often mixed with Brazilian, which is a cheaper kind. The starch procured from raw potatoes is frequently called English arrowroot, but it is very inferior, often having a sour, unpleasant smell ; but that obtained from wheat is somewhat better. Sago, a product of the Cycas revoluta, and other trees in India and other Eastern countries, is procured by washing the pith, and drying the sediment. Tapioca is the starch in the roots of numerous plants (Euphorbiacea), mostly of a poisonous kind, which grow in the tropical countries of Africa, America, and Asia. It is obtained by bruising the roots, then washing them, and drying the fecula, or farina, on heated plates of iron. Semolina is far more nourishing than any of the other starchy foods, as it is derived from the central portion of the finest and hardest wheat grown in Odessa, Spain, and the South of Italy. It makes a good pudding, and should be more used than it is.
Fruits are to be considered as additions to
rather than as articles of food ; but as they enter so considerably into the
composition of puddings, &c., and are so largely used in summer, our subject
would have been scarcely complete without them. Although a very large number are
grown in this country, yet most were originally inhabitants of Asia or other
warmer climates. Very many, such as oranges, lemons, grapes, raisins, currants,
and figs, are imported in large quantities. Thus, in 1875, there were 1,057,704
cwts. of currants, and 548,112 cwts. of raisins imported into the United Kingdom
; the value of the former being £1,424,188, and of the latter, £1,033,399;
whilst of oranges and lemons there were as many as 2,869,631 bushels, of the
declared value of £1,341,704, so that we paid nearly four millions of sovereigns
for these fruits in one year, or about one-fifth less than was paid for all the
animals brought to this country.
Although fruits do not afford sufficient nourishment to support life, yet they are not to be despised, as ripe grapes contain about 14 per cent. of sugar and 1 of nitrogenous matter; gooseberries, currants, and mulberries about 7 per cent. of sugar and one-half per cent. of nitrogenous matter ; whilst strawberries and raspberries have less. Apples, pears, and cherries, when ripe, give from 8 to 13 per cent. of sugar, and more nitrogenous compounds than the others. Apples and pears were known in this country in Saxon times, when they were much used in making fritters, and were eaten with honey; also in tarts, with spices, figs, and raisins, early in the fourteenth century.
Raisins, or dried grapes (Vitis vinifera), are of several kinds : the best, Muscatels, or "raisins of the sun," are dried before being cut from the branches, and chiefly come from Spain; whilst ordinary raisins are dried less carefully in the sun, or in ovens, and are brought from Southern Europe, France, and Asia Minor. Sultanas, which are smaller, sweeter, and without stones, come from Turkey ; and dried Currants, which are small seedless grapes, are imported from the Ionian Islands. The value of raisins imported into this country in 1876 was £1,041,217, and of currants, £1,539,670.
The Date, which is the fruit of a palm (Phoenix dactylifera), grows extensively in Asia and Africa, and is more nutritious than other fruits, as it gives about 50 per cent. of sugar and 9 of vegetable nitrogenous compounds. The Fig (Ficus) attains perfection in Central Europe, Asia, and Africa, and contains nearly as much sugar, but is somewhat less nutritious than the date.
Oranges. — Sweet Oranges (Citrus aurantium) are brought to this country from the warmer parts of Europe, the best coming from St. Michael, in the Azores ; whilst the Bitter Orange (Citrus vulgaris), so much used for making marmalade, is procured from Spain. The Lemon (Citrus Limonum) is hardier than the orange, and will grow in Devonshire ; but is largely imported from Portugal, Spain, and the Azores, those brought from Spain and St. Helena being considered the best.
There are several kinds of Nuts eaten in this country, the chief of which are the Walnut and the Chestnut, which are sent herein considerable numbers from Italy and France; Cocoa-nuts, the produce of most hot countries; the Almond, which grows in Southern Europe and Africa; the Brazil-nut, the seed of Bertholletia excelsa; the Hazel-nut, Filbert, and Cob-nut, are the only nuts we need mention. All these, except chestnuts, contain a considerable quantity of oil, the Brazil-nut giving 67 per cent., almonds 53, cocoa-nuts 36, walnuts 32, and filberts 28 per cent., in addition to which they afford a considerable quantity of albuminous matter, as 12½ per cent, is found in walnuts, 8½ in filberts, and 5½ in cocoanuts. They constitute a nutritious kind of food, but are difficult of digestion. The walnut is a native of India, Persia, and the Caucasus ; almonds, of Spain, France, and countries bordering the Mediterranean; and the cocoa-nut, of the Tropics.
THE SOURCES OF OUR FOOD SUPPLY.—VIII.
SUGAR, SPICES, ETC.
Sugar.—There are several kinds of sugar, but there
are only two ordinarily used as food in this country—viz.,
that obtained from the sugar-cane (Saccharum ofcina-
ram), and from the sugar-beet, which is a variety of the
Beta vulgaris. The former is a handsome plant, about
twelve feet high, which yields sugar chiefly from the lower
and ripe part of the stem, the quantity obtained being
about 70 lbs. from each too lbs. of cane. The beet-root
is usually about 2½lbs. in weight, and
contains about 12
per cent, of sugar, which is of the same kind as cane-
sugar. Sugar for purposes of distillation is obtained by
the action of sulphuric acid on starch—chiefly potato-
starch—as well as on cellulose, which constitutes the
chief bulk of cotton and linen rags, paper, and woody
fibre. This is called grape-sugar, or glucose. It possesses
similar properties to sugar obtained from the grape, and is therefore much used
in strengthening worts in brewing, and for distilling spirit or alcohol. Another
variety of grape-sugar exists in malt—which is sprouted and dried grain, chiefly
barley. Milk-sugar, which is little used, except in the preparation of
homoeopathic medicine, is mostly procured from the milk of cows or goats, and is
imported from Switzerland. The purest sugar—called "refined "—is white and
sparkling, and is made from raw sugar, by boiling at as low a temperature as
possible, and filtering through charcoal, &c., by which the golden syrup
and treacle, as well as the impurities, are removed.
The sugar-cane grows in most tropical and sub-tropical climates, and has long been cultivated in Asia, the islands of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and, at a later date, in America. Our chief supplies of raw cane-sugar are chiefly derived from the West Indies, Brazil, Mauritius, and India, the best being that from Demerara. Beet-sugar is largely manufactured in France, Belgium, and Germany, and to a small extent in England, the total quantity made in 1875 having been estimated at 700,000 tons, which is considerably more than one-third—perhaps nearly one-half—of the total quantity of cane-sugar imported into Europe. Very large amounts of this sugar, when refined, are imported into this country ; indeed, there is comparatively little English refined sugar now used. Sugar is a very important article of diet, especially for the young and old, as it is readily absorbed into the circulation, and used up in the body as a beat-producer. If taken in too large quantities, it may cause deranged digestion, and induce the formation of fat rather than of muscular tissue. The importation of sugar into this country has enormously increased since the duty was entirely removed. In 1869 the total weight of refined and raw sugar, and of molasses, was 13,034,323 cwts. ; whilst in 1875 it reached the enormous amount of 19,893,897 cwts., the weight of refined sugar being 2,860,776 cwts., against 1,068,940 cwts. in 1869; of raw sugar, 16,264,711 cwts. ; and of molasses, 768,410 cwts. The value of refined sugar imported in 1861 was £425,922; in 1869, £1,774,858; and in 1876, £4,094,299: of raw sugar, in 1861, £12,163,308; in 1869, £13,540,917; and in 1876, £16,292,158 - so that by far the greatest proportional increase has taken place in refined sugar, in consequence of the very largely-extended cultivation of sugar beet-root on the Continent. In 1875 the total value of sugar exported was £969,875, which showed that the value of sugar retained in 1875 was £20,528,683.
Condiments and Spices.—Although these are not strictly foods, yet an account of our food supplies would scarcely be complete without a reference to them, as they are in daily use by every one. The chief of the former class are mustard, pepper, horse-radish, and the fruits of certain plants mixed together and known as curry-powder. There are also several herbs, such as parsley, mint, marjoram, thyme, fennel, &c., which are included under this head, but do not require more than a mere mention.
The acrid or Black Mustard is the seed of the Brassica nigra, which is a native of most European countries. It is largely cultivated in England, but the best is grown in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. It is very much smaller than the white mustard-seed, contains a fixed oil, and affords a pungent essential oil on water being added [-313-] to the ground seed. The best ground mustard contains but little of the white, whilst the inferior is either a mixture of flour, mustard, turmeric, and cayenne, or is chiefly composed of the flour of white mustard, which does not contain any pungent oil, and is much cheaper than the black.
Pepper is the fruit of the Piper nigrum, which is grown in the West Indies, Malabar, Travancore, Sumatra, Java, &c. White Pepper is less pungent than the black, owing to the removal of the black skin, or pericarp. Long Pepper is the fruit of the P. longum and P. officinarum, natives of Malabar and the Indian Archipelago. Pepper owes its acrimony to a peculiar essential oil. The weight of pepper imported in 1875 was 29,399,020 lbs., and its value, £670,175.
Cayenne consists of the ground pods of some kind of capsicum, the smallest of which are known as chillies (Capsicum fastigiatum), and the Bird Pepper (C. baccatum) being the most acrid. The large variety is the C. annuum.
The fruits of several other plants are used as condi- ments: Cumin (Cuminum Cyminum), Fenugreek (Foenum Graecum), Turmeric (Curcuma Tonga), which, with cayenne and other condi- ments and spices, are chiefly used in making curry-powder.
Spices. — The chief of these are Ginger — the underground stem, or rhizoma, of the Zingiber officinale—which chiefly comes from the East and West Indies, and from Sierra Leone, on the west coast of Africa; Cinnamon, which is the true bark of the Cinnamomum zeylanicum, a native of Ceylon; and an inferior kind of cinnamon, called Cassia, which is the bark of the Laurus Cassia.
The Nutmeg is the seed of an evergreen tree (Myristica fragrans) that grows in New Guinea and other places, and affords Mace, which partially covers it ; both contain an essential oil, on which their flavour depends. Cloves are chiefly brought from Zanzibar and the West Indies, and are the dried flower-buds of an evergreen tree Eugenia caryophyllata); and Allspice is the fruit of Pimento officinalis. Both cloves and allspice owe their flavour to an aromatic essential (volatile) oil. Caraway (Carum carui) is grown in England, but chiefly comes from Holland; and Peppermint (Mentha Piperita) is grown largely in Surrey and other parts of England, as well as in some foreign countries. It is but little used as food. The quantity of cinnamon imported in 1875 was 1,234,567 lbs., and of all other spices, 15,657,282 lbs. ; the value of the cinnamon being £133,567, and of all other spices, £478,692.
THE SOURCES OF OUR FOOD SUPPLY.—IX.
WE have now to consider a different class of food, which includes water, tea,
coffee, cocoa, beer, wines, and. spirits. These are termed by some "food
adjuncts;" but as water is absolutely necessary to life, and must therefore be
taken by itself, or holding in solution the active principles of tea, coffee,
and cocoa, or mixed with alcohol and other matters in the form of beer, wines,
and spirits, we prefer the term "liquid foods." Perhaps it would have been, in
one respect, more appropriate to have included milk under this heading; but as
milk is essentially an animal food, we have preferred grouping it with the
animals from which it is procured.
Water differs in its composition according to the sources from which it is obtained. Thus, the water of deep springs usually contains very little organic matter, whilst that from many rivers and shallow wells is often so charged with it as to be unfit for drinking. Pure water is not to be procured from any spring, however deep, so that the term "pure" is merely relative. Lake water is generally the purest, whilst pump water in or near large towns is usually very impure. Water obtained from the chalk strata is generally very "hard"—that is to say, contains large quantities of lime; whilst rain-water is "soft," as it is free from lime. As, however, the salts in rather hard water render it more palatable, and as the body, and especially the bones, contain the salts found in hard water, its use is unobjectionable, unless the lime and magnesia are largely in excess. Moderately soft water is the best for making tea and coffee, as hard water will not extract so much of the active principles. Some lake-water contains as little as 2½ lbs. of salts in 100,000 lbs. of water; whilst in that from a deep London well as much
as eighty-four in 100,000 parts were found ; and from the Thames, at its source, about twenty-eight parts. River and shallow well water very frequently contains sewage, which would prove injurious to health if it were drunk before the oxygen of the air had converted it into innocuous compounds.
Tea, coffee, and cocoa contain an active principle—a nitrogenous alkaloid—which is called theine when obtained from tea, caffein from coffee, and theobromine from cocoa. It is probable that the universality of their use depends on the peculiar effect of this alkaloid on the nervous system. All three are exposed to the action of heat—i.e., roasted—before they are used, but they differ materially in their effects on the system. Tea acts as a powerful excitant of respiratory action, causing wakefulness and a moist state of the skin ; whilst coffee is more stimulating, and diminishes the secretion of the skin, and is, therefore, more suitable for the weak and at the morning meal. Tea should not be taken before a meal, but after it. Cocoa differs from both in containing a considerable quantity of fat, so that many persons cannot take it until the fat has been removed. It is also less exciting to the nervous system, and is very suitable for breakfast.
There are three varieties of the Tea-plant (Thea sinensis) —viz., Thea viridis,T. bohea, and T. striata, the so-called T. Assarnensis not being a separate variety. The plant is a kind of camellia, and is generally kept down by pruning, so as to be made bushy and admit of its leaves being readily plucked. The Thea bohea is the smaller of the two, and produces the inferior green and black teas ; whilst the T. viridis, a larger-growing shrub, is that from which the finer teas are made. The shrub does not afford leaves for plucking until it is three years old, and usually ceases to produce them in paying quantities after it is twenty or twenty-five years old. The finest and most delicate teas are the produce of the young leaves, as they contain a larger proportion of soluble matter. Black tea is prepared by leaving the leaves unroasted for some hours, so as to set up fermentative action ; they are then coasted for a few minutes, rolled, and allowed to remain in a soft, moist state for a few hours ; and, lastly, dried over charcoal fires. Green teas are lightly roasted soon after they are plucked, then rolled, and quickly dried off. About three pounds of leaf give one pound of tea. The middling qualities of tea are occasionally mixed with scented leaves, such as those of the Olea fragrans. The China green teas are divided into Gunpowder, Young Hyson, Hyson, and Twankay. There are also green teas from Java and Japan. The black are called, according to the size and quality of the leaves, Moning, Kaisou, Congou, Souchong, Oolong, Orange Pekoe, Caper, Foo Choo, and Canton—the latter being of inferior quality.
Until a comparatively recent period our tea was imported solely from China, but of late years very considerable quantities have been brought from Assam, Cachar, Darjeeling, and other parts of India, as well as from Japan. In 1861 the imports from India were only about 1,500,000 lbs., in 1869 they were 10,450,000 lbs., and in 1875 as much as 25,589,765 lbs. This great increase has been chiefly caused by the demand for mixing with China tea, as Indian is of greater strength, flavour, and pungency. Indeed, Assam tea is too strong and pungent for drinking unmixed, as it acts too powerfully on the nervous system. The importation of tea has enormously increased of late years, as the quantity retained for home consumption in 1861 was only 77,927,750 lbs., against 123,401,889 lbs. in 1871, and 145,327,432 lbs. in 1875. The value of the tea imported in 1875 was £13,766,961 ; but as £2,555,506 worth was exported, the value of the tea retained for use in this country in 1875 was £11,211,455. In 1876 the total value imported was nearly £1,000,000 less than in 1875. The large outlay in this article of import shows that the use of warm drinks, [-328-] and especially of tea, has become an absolute necessary of life.
Coffee is not used to anything like so great an extent as tea ; for in 1861 the total weight imported was 745,826 cwts., and in 1875 1,589,732 cwts., and of these about 1,207,400 cwts. were exported, so that only about 382,333 cwts. were retained in this country. The value of the coffee imported in 1875 was £7,513,053, and of that exported £5,690,117, so that the value of that retained was only £1,822,936. We have mentioned the weights and value of the imports and exports, as otherwise those of our readers who see the annual returns might have considered the figures erroneous. Nearly one-half of the quantity came from Ceylon, the remainder having been sent from Jamaica, British India, Brazil, Java, Central America, Hayti, and other places.
The berries are the fruit of a small shrub, which is a native of Abyssinia, and was introduced into Arabia in the fifteenth century, and subsequently into this country about the middle of the seventeenth. Unlike tea, it is imported raw, and has to be roasted before it is used. During this operation the moisture and other constituents are driven off, and an essential oil produced, which affords the aroma. Coffee contains a large quantity (about twelve per cent.) of a fixed (fatty) oil, on which its property of floating for some time in water depends, and by which it can readily be detected from chicory. When sold ready ground it is very frequently mixed with chicory, which is much inferior to it as a nervine stimulant.
Chicory is the roasted and ground root of the Cichorium intybus, and contains an aromatic oil, starch,
sugar, and a small quantity of nitrogenous matter. It is never used by itself, but to give fulness and colour to coffee. The value of the chicory imported in 1876 was £68,046.
Cocoa and Chocolate are obtained from several plants. The Mexican cocoa is the seed of the Theobroma
cacao, a native of Mexico and the West Indies. The Brazilian cocoa, or Guarana, is procured from the seeds of the Paullinia sorbilis, and another kind of cocoa from the earth-nut (Arachis hypogoea). The beans are contained in a fruit like a water-melon or thick cucumber, and after being removed from the pulp are dried in the sun. That grown in Trinidad forms the bulk imported into England.
The beans are prepared for chocolate by being crushed in mills, and mixed with sugar and a little vanilla; but when sold as cocoa they are only roughly broken or shred. They contain a very large quantity of fat (about thirty-five per cent.), so that cocoa is generally prepared by being mixed with sugar and starch. If the drink be made from the nibs, it must be boiled for several hours, and should generally be skimmed; but a most useful form is that of the " essence," which consists of the ground bean from which the fat has been removed. The volatile oil is produced by the roasting in the same way as that of coffee. The value of the cocoa imported in 1875 was £429,912, and of that exported £240,846, so that the value of that retained was only £189,066. This is much to be regretted, as it is far more suitable for breakfast than either tea or coffee, provided some of its fat be removed before it is drunk.
Although the ingredient in fermented drinks for which they
are chiefly consumed—viz., alcohol—does not exist ready formed in any article of
food, yet we could scarcely conclude our series of papers without a reference to
beer, wines, and spirits.
The effects on the body of these food adjuncts have not been carefully studied until of late years, when it has been shown by experiment and observation that they are sedatives rather than stimulants, several acting almost from the first as sedatives or depressing agents, and others acting in this way after the primary stimulating effects have gone off. They are of considerable value in depressed conditions of the system, when a person is suffering from overwork or disease, but, except in small quantities, are injurious, especially when taken at short periods instead of with a meal, or after the fatigues of the day are over.
The experiments performed on himself and a friend by the late Dr. Edward Smith show that the most depressing of these are spirits, with the exception of rum, which produces increased action of the heart and of the breathing functions, whilst gin is very depressing after its first transient action on the heart has passed by. Wines are more stimulating than spirits, in consequence of the ethers which are formed in the course of time by the action of the natural acids in the wine on its spirit. Beer, when taken in moderate quantity, is, to a certain extent, a food, as it contains nearly five per cent. of a kind of gummy matter called dextrin, and a small amount (about half per cent.) of sugar and albuminoid matter. The injurious effects of spirits depend partly on a kind of alcohol known as "fusel oil," which distils over with the alcohol, more especially towards the latter stages of distillation. If kept for some time this so-called oil becomes converted into ethers, and ceases to be specifically injurious, and it then gives the peculiar flavour to spirit such as that possessed by whisky.
Beer is made by steeping and boiling malted grain in water, with or without the intermixture of sugar, and by the addition of hops to the wort. Malt is usually obtained from barley or rye by steeping it first in water for about forty-eight 'hours, and then moving it to what is called "the couch," where it is kept for twenty hours. It is then taken to the "floors," where it remains from ten to fourteen days, according to the rate at which sprouting goes on, and is then finally removed to the drying kiln in order to stop any further growth. The object of this process is to convert part of the starch of the grain into a kind of grape-sugar and dextrin, sometimes called dextrin-maltose, by means of a nitrogenous substance derived from the gluten of the grain, which is known as diastase. This diastase exists in malt to a greater extent than is necessary to change the starch into a sugar, so that raw grain is added to it abroad. The temperature at which the malt is dried depends on the kind of beer to be brewed, being at about 100° F. for pale ale, about 120° F. for amber ale, and about 160° F. for porter or stout. The first step in [-329-] the production of beer consists in crushing the malt and steeping it in water, either by itself or mixed with sugar, so as to form the " wort." When a large proportion of the starch has been converted into sugar the wort is boiled. If the process of fermentation, to be presently mentioned, be slowly conducted, and sufficient raw grain have been added to the wort, the whole of the gluten is converted into diastase, and the beer will keep better, and not develop the aldehyd—a kind of alcohol—upon which much of the intoxicating effects of English beer is supposed to depend. The wort, after having been boiled with hops, partly to give it a flavour and partly to precipitate the unchanged gluten, is run off into shallow vessels and rapidly cooled down to about 60° F., and then transferred to the fermenting vat ; yeast is added, and it is slowly fermented for six or eight days, the fermentation being stopped before all the fermentable matters are converted into alcohol. Beer usually contains from three to ten per cent. of alcohol, so that in a pint of stout or strong ale there would be nearly as much alcohol as in an equal quantity of ordinary claret, or more than one-third of a pint of port or sherry, so that it is not to be wondered at that a pint of stout or strong ale should make a person unaccustomed to its use feel more or less intoxicated.
Wine is the fermented juice of any fruit, but the name is chiefly applied to the fermented juice of the grape, so that those of the apple and pear are called cider and perry instead of apple or pear wine. During fermentation the grape-sugar in the juice is converted into alcohol, and, by keeping, the tartar (acid tartrate of potash) and tannin are deposited, and ethers formed, on which the bouquet (odour) of the wine depends. The wines of different countries vary in their strength, quality, flavour, and price, but almost every one of the wine-producing countries makes one or more first-class wines. The first place must be assigned to France, and especially to the produce of the Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Champagne districts. The finest Bordeaux wines are the Chateaux Lafite, Haut Brion, Margaux, and Latour, but they are very high-priced, and can compara. tively rarely be obtained in an ordinary way; but St. Julien, St. Estephe, Margaux, and Catenac are very good. The best Bordeaux white wines are those from the Chateaux Yquem, Latour Blanche, and Haut Sauterne, all of which are sweetish and obtained from over-ripe grapes. Ordinary Sauterne and Barsac are the produce of mixed grapes, and are comparatively cheap. The best red Burgundy wines are Romanee, Clos de Vougeot, and Chambertin; and the best white wines are those of Montrachet, and Mersault. Volnay, Corton, Beaune and Chablis are lower-priced but good wines. Champagne is a well-known sparkling wine, which is extensively imitated, so that unless a good brand be purchased, the sparkling wines of St. Peray, Vouvray, and even of Saumur are to be preferred. The quantity of wine produced in France in 1873 was returned as 786,088,916 gallons, and the value at nearly £60,000,000, but of this only £3,135,034 worth was imported into this country; and in 1876 it was less—viz., £2,517,978.
The best wines of Germany are very high-priced, and are rarely mixed with spirit, or, as it is termed, "fortified." The best vintages of Johannisberg, Steinberger, Rudesheimer, Rauenthalerberg, and some others, like those of the best French wines, are rarely to be bought except at very high prices, as the first named has been sold in the cellars at Li 15s. per bottle, and even more. Fine Geisenheimer and Hockheimer are also dear; but ordinary Hockheimer, . Ingglheimer, Bodenheimer, and others are to be obtained at low rates. All these are white wines—indeed, Germany produces only one good red wine, viz., Assmannshauser. The wines of the Moselle are not so strong as those just mentioned, whilst some from Bavaria, Deidesheimer, Forster, Leisten, and Stein wine, are stronger than Moselle, and dear if good. The sparkling German wines are now largely imported into this country. Austria sends only a little here, but the wines of Hungary, although scarcely known a few years ago are note somewhat extensively imported. The best of these is the highly esteemed Imperial Tokay, and Sweet Ruster, which is much like the inferior kinds of Tokay. OEdenburger is not so strong, but is a pleasant wine. Bakator and Somlauer are stronger, while Carlowitz is a good-bodied red wine. The last is being of late considerably used in the place of claret, which it much resembles, but is cheaper.
Italy sends us but few wines—the chief being Capri, a light pleasant wine; Lachryma Christi, of which there are red and white; and Marsala, which is chiefly drunk in the place of sherry. The importation of Marsala is in a very few hands, indeed most of it is imported in a very few vessels.
Greece supplies us with several kinds of very good wines, especially white St. Elie, which has, when old, an aromatic and yet fresh taste, and is peculiarly suited for dinner. Red Hymettus, which is much like Burgundy; Patras, which somewhat resembles Port ; Bacchus wine, and red Santorin, are all fine wines.
Port, as usually prepared for the English market, is highly fortified with common spirit, and requires to be kept for many years ; but the wine, as drunk in Portugal, is comparatively light and fresh-flavoured. The best comes from the vicinity of the Douro. There is also a white port from the Carcavellos district, which is of a topaz colour, with a rich muscat flavour. In cases of real debility, there is no wine that has the same effect as a glass of good port ; but all its good effects are obtained from small daily doses of this kind, and the days when it was drunk as a regular dinner beverage have happily passed away.
Spain sends us large supplies of numerous wines grouped together under the name of sherry, which differ very considerably in colour, flavour, and potency. Amontillado, a rather light dry wine ; Vino de Pasto, which, when good, is a light, dry, and fine-flavoured wine; Montilla, which is dark, and fuller, with a nutty flavour ; Oloroso, a fragrant and highly-flavoured wine, with Amorosa and Solera, are amongst the best. Of late a kind of Spanish port has come into considerable use, as a cheap wine for invalids who cannot afford the higher-priced wine. It is called Tarragona, and when mature and unfortified will answer the chief purposes of port wine.
Madeira was largely drunk in this country at one time. It is very full- flavoured, nutty, and strong, but when young is too sweet for ordinary drinking. The vines were destroyed by disease in 1852, and were not replanted until about 1859 ; so that, unless a new wine be bought, a rather high price must be paid for fine wine. The quantity produced in 1876 was 10,000 pipes.
Australia has sent us some fine wines grown from the best kinds of French and German vines, so that, when good, they possess very much of the qualities of Hermitage, Chambertin, Burgundy, or of some of the Rhine wines.
British wines contain the acids of the fruit such as malic, tartaric, and others, which are deposited after fermentation, as is the case with the grape wines, so that sugar has to be added, and the wines consequently disagree with many persons.
The cultivation of the vine is now receiving considerable attention in the Western States of America ; and as any possible climate can be had, the time is not probably distant when really excellent wine will be one of the recognised articles of American production. Some of the produce of California has been pronounced of excellent quality by connoisseurs, and greater age, and experience in manufacture, will doubtless improve it considerably.
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