The word ‘trophology’ was apparently coined in 1890 by a scientist, J.S. Billings, who intended it to apply to “that department of physiology which deals with nutrition.”
At some point in time, the word was adapted to quite a different use – or maybe it was hijacked. It now, apparently refers to “the study of food combining - that is, the art of knowing which foods go best with which others.” I hesitate to describe this new field of study as a science, because it does not stand up to the most superficial level of scientific scrutiny at all. I try to keep an open mind, I do, really, but there is something very odd about this food combing thing. If individual folk feel better, or lose weight, by combining (or, more specifically, not combining) certain foods, well then and good, but please do not assume that this means there must be some universally applicable scientific explanation. What does “go best” mean, anyway?
Aside from whatever the pseudo-scientific explanations are, there is something profoundly counter-intuitive and spectacularly generally disagreeable about many of the principles of modern trophology. I read that “the process of digestion has nine basic rules which describe combinations to avoid.” I must pass that piece of knowledge on to my colleagues in the physiology department.
The rules, as far as I understand them (with my immediate reactions in parentheses) are that one must not combine:
Carbohydrate with Carbohydrate (no chip butties!)
Carbohydrate with Acid Fruit (no lemon tart)
Carbohydrate with Protein (no burgers, sausage and mash, scrambled egg on toast?
Carbohydrate with Sugar (no jam on my toast?)
Protein with Acid Fruit (definitely no duck bigarade)
Protein with Protein (no bacon with my eggs; no cheese in the scrambled eggs?)
Protein with Fat (no extra-virgin oil poured on my bean soup? How shall I eat it)
Melon with any other food (no prosciutto e melone? No more watermelon and fetta salad?
Milk with any other food (no rice pudding, hot chocolate)
No wonder people lose weight when they apply these nutritional principles.
The “rule” I have the most trouble with is the melon rule. What on earth is it about melons that makes them so problematic if mixed with other foods? What, exactly, happens if you do toss caution aside and mix them with other foods? Would it be OK to mix several different sorts of melons? Mix melons with other members of the Melon family?
My own, totally unscientific opinion is that melon “goes best” with ... fetta, or maybe ham, or ice-cream, or strawberries, and lots of mint, .........
Worrying about this makes me want to rush off and have some nice comforting hot chocolate milk.
Here is a health-defying recipe for a melon pickle to add to some nice meaty protein in the form of venison.
Melon, Pickled, for Venison.
Take melons about the size of a large orange, and before they are quite ripe. When peeled, and the seeds are taken out, slice them into a bowl of good vinegar, and cover up for a week or more. At the end of that time drain the fruit, and simmer it till tender in an enamelled pan with fresh vinegar. Again drain the slices, and when dry make a thin syrup by boiling together a pound of sugar with a pint and a half of water. Skim well, put the melons into the bottles in which they are to remain, and cover with the syrup. In eight or ten days, throw off half of it, and fill the bottles with boiled vinegar in which the flavour of a few cloves has been extracted. Let it be quite cold before being added.
Cassell’s Dictionary of Cookery (London, 1870)
Quotation for the Day.
Success to me is having ten honeydew melons and eating only the top half of each slice.