Thursday, December 01, 2011

Do you Phry your Phood?

An interesting book with the full title of The Spirit of Cookery. A popular treatise on the history, science, practice, and ethical and medical import of culinary art, published in 1895, turned out to contain a real treat for me recently. A brand-new word - never used before or since, as far as I can tell. A pseudo-Greek neologism no less.  Well, if you were going to invent a new word for an old process, and wanted to give it some science-cred, you would Greekify it, wouldn’t you?

The word, my friends, is ‘phrygology.’ The chapter heading in which it first appears explains it all. Chapter XXI is headed ‘Culinary Fats and the Process of Frying (Phrygology).’ In case that was not sufficient explanation for the readers of the treatise, the sub-heading explains further that the chapter is about the ‘Theory of the Process of Baking in Fat, called Frying (Phrygology.) Do you like it? More to the point, will you use it? Such a lovely word should not live and die within the covers of one book. Or are there other usages which I have missed in my fifteen minutes of research?

The author of this ‘popular treatise’ was a German physician and neurochemist called Johann Ludwig Wilhelm Thudichum (1829 – 1901).  Early in his career he worked for Justus von Liebig, founder of the Liebig Extract of Meat Company which eventually became the Oxo company. Thudicum moved to England in 1853 and continued his pioneering work on ‘brain chemistry’, and his writing of many books on scientific topics.

It seems reasonable to assume that Thudicum had a particular interest in the digestive process and food, and I wonder if today he would consider himself a ‘foodie’?  Is there a definitive biography of the man, I wonder?

In honour of this brilliant scientist-foodie, I give you an example of fearless frying from a promotional booklet of the Mazola company.

Plain Fritters
1 cup Flour
½ teaspoon Salt
2 eggs
1 tablespoon Mazola
½ cup Milk
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
Sift dry ingredients. Add eggs unbeaten with Mazola and milk and stir until well mixed. Drop by spoonfuls into hot Mazola. Cook until golden brown. Serve with Karo, Green Label.
Mazola_Perfect_For_Deep_Frying; 1925

Quotation for the Day.

If you have formed the habit of checking on every new diet that comes along, you will find that, mercifully, they all blur together, leaving you with only one definite piece of information: french-fried potatoes are out.
Jean Kerr.

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