Thursday, April 15, 2010

Notable Eating Habits.

This week’s source is a book called A Thousand Notable Things, published in 1815, but based on an original from the late sixteenth century. There have been many editions of the book over the centuries, with some of the ‘notable things’ in the 1579 edition still appearing in the nineteenth century version – unchanged apart from the language being modernised. It would be the work of several long days to compare the 1579 and 1815 versions and note the points at which significant changes were made, and I admit have not done this - yet!

I do not know at which point the topic I am giving you today was included, but whenever it was it demonstrates that advice about sensible eating is surprisingly enduring. Note that ‘meat’ in this context at this time referred to food in general, not specifically to animal flesh.

Rules to find out a fit measure of Meat and Drink.

1. If thou eat so much as makes thee unfit for study or other business, thou exceedest the due measure.
2. If thou art dull and heavy after meat, it is a sign that thou has exceeded the due measure, for meat and drink ought to refresh.
3. If thou findest these ill symptoms, consider whether too much Meat or too much Drink occasions it, or both; and abate by little and little, till thou findest the inconvenience removed.
4. Pass not immediately from a disordered life to a strict and precise life, but abate by little and little the excess; for ill custom comes on by degrees, and so by degrees must be left off.
5. As to the quality of Food, if the body be of a healthful constitution, and the meat does thee no harm, it matters little what it is; but all sorts must be avoided that prejudiceth thee, though it please the taste ever so much.
6. Let Students eat a good quality of Bread with their Meat, though they ought to avoid all meats that offend, yet, now and then, they may eat a little of any meat that they desire.
7. After Diet is exactly obtained, the appetite will require only what Nature hath need of, it will desire as Nature desires.
8. Let ancient people eat Panado, made with Bread and Flesh, Broth, which is of light digestion, and an Egg now and then will do well.
9. Beware of Variety of Meats, and such as are curiously and daintily dressed, which destroys a multitude of people; they prolong the appetite four times beyond what Nature requires, and different meats are of different natures; some are sooner digested than others, whence crudities proceed, and whole digestion depraved.
10. Keep out of sight of Feasts and Banquets as much as may be, for it is more difficult to refrain from good cheer when it is present, than from the desire of it when it is away; the like you may observe in the objects of all the other senses.
11. Fancy that Gluttony is not good and pleasant, but filthy, evil, and detestable, as indeed it really is.
12. The richest compounds, when concocted, yield the most noisome smells, and he that works hard, and fares hard, hath a sweeter and pleasanter body than the other.

In case you are actually ‘ancient’, or merely feel a little old and indisposed today, here is a nice recipe for ‘panado’(or ‘panada’) – essentially a broth thickened with bread (with other optional ingredients) used as a thickener or binder in other recipes such as forcemeat, or taken in the form of soup, as it is to this day in many parts of Italy. This particular recipe is quite rich, and perhaps not the style that the author of our book had in mind for ancient folk? It is certainly adaptable and can be made in the form of a savoury custard, or a sweet fruity dessert.

To make PANADA.
Grate the crumb of a penny loaf, and boil it in a pint of water, with one onion and a few peppercorns, till quite thick and soft, then put in two ounces of butter, a little salt, and half a pint of thick cream, keep stirring it till it is like a fine custard, pour it into a soup plate, and serve it up.
N.B you may use sugar and currants, instead of onions and peppercorns, if you please.
The Experienced English Housekeeper; Elizabeth Raffald, 1786.

Quotation for the Day.

The flesh endures the storms of the present alone; the mind, those of the past and future as well as the present. Gluttony is a lust of the mind.
Thomas Hobbes.


KT said...

Perhaps the issue for the ancients was lack of teeth, not concern over caloric richness. :)

Ferdzy said...

It's amazing how much of that advice is still given by dieticians... and how hard we all still find it to follow!

The Old Foodie said...

Heoo Ferdzy - that's one of the things I find fascinating about this stuff - there is nothing new under the sun, really!