Wednesday, November 21, 2007

School Food.

November 21 ...

Do you have, or do you know, any children who complain about school, food, life, the Universe, and Everything Else? Tell them this tale, as a gratitude-provoker.

In the nineteenth century, much effort on the part of the authorities was given over to considering the nutrition of its children. In particular, attention was paid to the food provided by its boarding schools. The professor of Clinical Therapeutics in King’s College, London, Dr Isaac Burney Yeo (who thought of the low-carb diet over a century ago) wrote a book called Food in Health and Disease in the 1890’s.

On the topic of school food, Dr Burney extensively quotes Dr Clement Dukes, the Medical Officer of Rugby School, author of his own book, Health at School.

Another highly important matter in the arrangement of meals at school is that the pupils should be allowed ample and sufficient time to eat them, and the master should see that the food is properly masticated, or, at any rate, that sufficient time is allowed for this process, as imperfect mastication is a common cause of indigestion, and may become an injurious habit, which, like other bad habits, should be corrected at school.

It seems that in certain schools, or with certain masters, boys are sometimes detained in school as a punishment during a portion of the dinner or breakfast time, so that the time available for feeding is seriously encroached upon. Such a system shows a lamentable absence, in the authorities, of the most elementary understanding of the conditions of health.

The practice of requiring a lesson at 7 a.m., on an empty stomach, and after a long fast, especially in winter, is indefensible. The pupils should be allowed hot milk, or hot coffee and milk, with a piece of bread, before going into school at all. This is most essential for the delicate or average boy or girl.

At 6.45 to 7.15 am there should be, then, a provision of hot coffee, with plenty of milk – a beverage both nutritious and stimulating.
At 8.30 a.m.
- Breakfast, after the 1st lesson; this should be a good meal, with some animal food - ham, bacon, cold beef, fish, or eggs. Some porridge. Bread and butter,
or jam or marmalade. Hot milk and water, or coffee. (Everything should be provided for the boys, and they should not be required to buy anything for themselves.)
At 1.30 p.m. - Dinner, which should be a good meal of meat, pudding, potatoes or green vegetables, or haricot beans, peas pudding, etc. (School should cease at least 15 minutes before the meal, to give the boy time to wash and prepare himself for dinner.)
5 to 6 p.m. - Tea, with bread and butter, art egg, marmalade, jam, or potted meat.

As to supper, Dr. Dukes thinks boys should either not have any supper, so that they may go to bed without food in their stomachs, or that merely bread and butter, or bread and milk, or a glass of milk or water should be provided. He strongly objects to cheese, meat, beer or pastry at supper ; he considers a meat supper with beer as most objectionable in growing boys, as tending to excite their passions - and calculated to lead to immorality.

We cannot altogether accept these unqualified objections to supper. Our own view is that, instead of a meal at 5 or 6 p.m., only a few hours after a heavy dinner, it would be better to serve simply coffee or tea, or hot milk and water at that hour, and provide a fairly nutritious, but unstimulating, supper at 8 pm. Porridge made with milk would be excellent, or tapioca, or rice pudding, with marmalade, or, in winter, some good soup with farinaceous substance, or other light, but nourishing food.

Some nervous mothers of course made sure that their little darlings had a little store in reserve, in case of hunger.

Children’s Cake.
(Suitable for sending to children at school)
Mix thoroughly one pound of flour, two heaped tea-spoonfuls of baking powder, and a pinch of salt. Rub well in a quarter of a pound of butter or good beef dripping, and add a quarter of a pound of currants, a quarter of a pound of chopped raisins, a quarter of a pound of sugar, a little grated nutmeg, and two ounces of candied peel chopped small. Mix with water to a stiff paste, and bake it in a moderate oven. If preferred, caraway seeds may be substituted for the currants and raisins. Time to bake, 1 hour. Probable cost, 1s. Sufficient for a moderate-sized cake.
[Cassell’s Dictionary of Cookery, 1870’s]

Tomorrow’s Story …

School Food Chapter II

Quotation for the Day ..

Speaking of food, English cuisine has received a lot of unfair criticism over the years, but the truth is that it can be a very pleasant surprise to the connoisseur of severely overcooked livestock organs served in lukewarm puddles of congealed grease. England manufactures most of the world's airline food, as well as all the food you ever ate in your junior-high-school cafeteria. Dave Barry.

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