Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Extreme Raw Food.

There was something in the air in the nineteenth century – something that suggested the need for change. Not change for change’s sake, but change in a better moral direction. Many reformists belonged to more than one movement, and there were many to chose from: women’s rights, anti-slavery, anti-vivisectionist, temperance and vegetarianism (and no doubt a few others).

There was a particularly demanding form of vegetarianism which advised against the use of all condiments – not even salt, and certainly no vinegar or spices of any sort – it being believed by the adherents to that movement that they were too stimulating to the passions and therefore predisposing to moral degeneracy. For reasons that no doubt were crystal clear to its followers, there was also an uncooked food movement.

From: The new hydropathic cook-book, by Russell Thacher Trall, published in New York in 1854, I give you the following recipes for bread. These recipes require no comment from me - they speak eloquently enough for themselves.

Uncooked Bread Cake.

For this and the two following recipes I am indebted to Miss E.M. French, of New London, who has experimented considerably in preparing food without cooking. The idea is sufficiently radical; but I doubt not the time will come when methods for preparing various articles of food with very little cooking if not without any, will be much more highly appreciated than can be expected at present.

Mix with half a pound of figs sufficient ground wheat - coarse Graham flour - to form a dough like well kneaded bread. The figs should be softened a little with hot water, which will also cleanse them, when they will readily yield to the kneading process. No water is required except what is necessary to soften the figs. The cake or bread may be rolled or cut in the form of biscuit. It should be made fresh whenever wanted for eating.

Unbaked Bread Cake
In this kind of bread or cake the ingredients are cooked before mixing, but not subsequently. To one quart of ground parched corn add a teacupful of boiled rice; mix the ingredients well and form a loaf by placing them in a pan wet with cold water. It may perhaps be improved by adding uncooked rice flour to form the loaf when it need not be placed in the pan but may be rolled or cut in the form of biscuit.

Quotation for the Day.

Prehistoric man may have lived on uncooked foods, but there are no savage races today who do not practice cookery in some way, however crude. Progress in civilization has been accompanied by progress in cookery. Fannie Merritt Farmer.


Ken Albala said...

Oh Yuck! Raw flour and figs. Choke me dead. What could they have possibly thought was pure and natural about this? And unnatural about fire?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you've seen this? A new book by Harvard anthropologist Richard Wrangham proposes that cooking started as long ago as two million years and had a revolutionary effect on the development of modern humans. Basically, he suggests that it's so much easier to get nutrition out of cooked food than out of raw that biological changes from the gut to the brain followed. Modern human bodies thus evolved to expect and function best on cooked food. The book's called "Catching Fire" and I gather it's quite controversial, but certainly intriguing.

The Old Foodie said...

Hello bklynharuspex - I havent read the book - it is on my list! It sounds interesting. Must get that pile of "must reads" under control.