Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Candy for Health.

December 19 …

An article in the prestigious British Medical Journal on this day reported on a study conducted by the equally prestigious Harvard School of Public Health. The results appeared to show that the mortality rate was lowest amongst men who ate candy at least three times a week compared with those who did not eat candy at all..

I find this study immensely interesting, not only because of its value in reducing greed-guilt, but also on account of the wild and wonderful theories that can be inspired by it (not by the Harvard researchers I might add). Was it the preserving power of the sugar? Or were the ancient medicos right and sugar has medicinal benefits in its own rights, even if they were wrong on the dose (they thought tiny amounts were sufficient)? Would the same results apply to women? Are the results explained by the candy-eaters doing large amounts of exercise penance? Are candy-eaters more fun, and it is actually the fun that saves your life? Did the BMJ deliberately choose to publish this article before Christmas, as their gift to their reading public?

We have met several different forms of candy in this blog – chocolate occasionally (but not often enough), nougat (in relation to a crime), ‘sugar of roses’ (in an article about climbing mountains and eating mints), caraway comfits (in a story about lust and orgies), and ‘others too numerous to mention’ (or look up) by this lazy writer.

So what to choose by way of recipes, to reduce your mortality risk over the Christmas season?

I have so far neglected liquorice in this blog. Liquorice comes from the root of several species of shrubby plants of the genus Glycyrrhiza, especially G. glabra. It has been used for centuries as a medicine, and is said to be useful in – among other things – disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, which are prevalent in late December due to the festivites. It is timely then to address the omission.

‘Confectionary’ only fairly recently came to apply only to hard candy. Once upon a time it was part of the pastrycooks domain and also included all manner of conserves and sweetmeats as well as pastries. Pastrycooks of the early eighteenth century had a frighteningly large sphere of responsibility, if we are to judge by the information immediately below the title of today’s recipe source, which was published in 1705.

The pastry-cook’s vade-mecum: or, a pocket-companion for cooks, house-keepers, country gentlewomen, &c. ...

Choice and Excellent Directions, and Receipts for making all Sorts of Pastry-Work; Dressing the most Dainty Dishes; Candying, Preserving and Drying all manner of Fruit. As also, the Art of Distilling and Surgery.

The “Good Old Days” Huh? When the local pastrycook had pretensions to chirugerie? No thankyou. I’ll take my varicosed veins to a real surgeon.

To make Liqourish Cakes.
Take 12 ounces of Liquorish scraped very thin, then take two pints and a half of Isop [hyssop?] Water, one pint and half of Coltsfoot Water, a pint and half of red Rosewater, two good handful of Rosemary flowers, one handful of Maiden-hair, keep all these together three or four days in a stew Pot or Jug that may be close stop’d, shaking them together two or three times a day, then put them all into a Skilet, and set them upon a soft Fire two hours, then strain it into a Silver Bason, put to it a pound of brown Sugar-candy so let it boil till it grow thick enough to beat to a Paste, when you find it grow pretty thick, take a little upon a Spoon, and beat it with a Knife till it be cold, and then you will find whether it be enough, when you take it off the Fire, it must be beaten with a good strength with a Spoon till it be white, then take some fine Sugare searced, and so roul it up in little Cakes, the best way is to keep beating it to the last, or else it will so crackle that it will never role handsomely, half this Receipt is enough to make at a time.

Tomorrow’s Story …

Mystery Turkey.

Quotation for the Day …

Anyone who uses the phrase 'easy as taking candy from a baby' has never tried taking candy from a baby. Unknown

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