Thomas Tryon, whom we met in yesterday's post, certainly embraced asceticism along with his various causes. The first choices from Seventy five Noble Dishes of Excellent Food listed in Wisdom's Dictates (1696) consist of bread with some very basic additions or with various liquids to sop.
1. Bread and Water hath the first place of all Foods, and are the Foundation of dry moist nourishment, and of themselves being wisely prepared, makes a good Food of an opening, cleansing Nature and Operation, viz. Take Oatmeal and make it into a Gruel, as we have Taught in our Monthly Observations of Health, then put Bread into it; also take Water and good Wheat Flower, and make it into a Pap, and put Bread into it, and season it with Salt; this and Bread, with a Glass of Water, a Man may live very well, which a Friend of mine, of no mean Quality, have done for near two Years, eating neither Flesh, nor any of their Fruits, neither does he wear any Woollen Garments, but Linnen.
2. Bread and Butter, Bread and Cheese, being eaten alone, or with Sallad Herbs washed, without either Salt, Oil or Vinegar makes a most excellent Food, of a cleansing exhilarating Quality, easie of digestion; the frequent eating thereof, sweetens and generates good Blood, and fine Spirits, and prevents the generation of sower Humours, also keeps the Body open before those that are eaten with Salt, Vinegar and Oil; especially for Women, and all Constitutions that are subject to generate sower Humours, and windy Diseases.
3. Bread and Butter eaten with our thin Gruel, wherein is only Salt to season it; the best way of eating it is to bite and Soop, as you eat raw Milk and Bread; this is a most sweet and agreeable Food to the Stomach, of easie Concoction generates good Blood
and causes it to Circulate freely, and it is the most approved way of eating Water gruel with Butter.
4. Bread and Milk as it comes from the Cow, or raw, as they call it, is a most delicate Food, and Milk eaten thus is not only the best Food, but the most; the frequent eating thereof does sweeten the Blood, prevents sower Humours, carries Wind downward, and causes it to pass away freely without any trouble or molestation to Nature, maintaining Health and good Complexion, and it is to be preferr'd before all other ways of Eating or Preparations, especially than boiled Milk, for boiling of Milk does fix or stagnate the fine volatile Spirits, and makes it of a tough Nature, by which the Stomach cannot so easily separate it, neither does it generate so fine Blood or Spirits; for this cause, if you boil Milk, and then set it to Cream, it will not separate, or afford more than a thin Skin; but remember that you do not eat your Milk before it be cold, not hot from the Cow as most incline to; the particular Reasons I have demonstrated in our Good Housewife made a Doctor.
Here, to use for sopping, are Tryon's instructions for Herb Pottage (number 56 in his list)
Directions to make several sorts of Herb Pottage, viz. Take what quantity you please of good Water, make it boiling hot, then have our Herb or Herbs ready washed, not cut as the usual custom is; put them into your boiling hot Water, let your Vessel continue on the Fire till your Liquor begins to boil, then take it off the Fire, and let your Herbs remain in our boiling Liquor two or three Minutes; after which, take your Herbs out, then brew your hot Infusion with a little small Ground Oatmeal, which you must have ready, tempered with a Spoonful or two of cold Water, adding Salt and Butter to it, which ought to be brewed with your Oatmeal. This Pottage or Gruel, you may eat with Bread or without, as you find most agreeable to your Stomach; all Herb Pottages made after this method, are far more commendable, for all good purposes, than that made the common and usual way, for the hot Liquor, in a moments time, draws forth all the fine, spirituous Virtues, and strength of the Malt; for in most, or all
Infusions, the fine spirituous qualities separate, and do first give themselves into any proper Minstruum, or Liquor.
Quotation for the Day.
The inferior creatures groan under your cruelties. You hunt them for your pleasure, and overwork them for your covetousness, and kill them for your gluttony, and set them to fight one with another till they die, and count it a sport and a pleasure to behold them worry one another.
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