Monday, August 25, 2014

Need a Nice Restorative Beverage?

I want to give you a little more today from a book which has inspired a couple of previous posts. If I am to judge from the number of comments and emails, the stories (on Cheshire Cheese Pudding and Bosom Caressers) were popular, so it seems like a good idea to go back to it again.

The book is Cakes and ale: a dissertation of banquets, interspersed with various recipes, more or less original, and anecdotes, mainly veracious (4th ed., 1913) by Edward Spencer, and the section of interest today is his chapter on ‘Restoratives.’

"I CARE not," observed William of Normandy to his quartermaster- general, on the morning after the revelry which followed the Battle of Hastings, "who makes these barbarians' wines ; send me the man who can remove the beehive from my overwrought brain."

This remark is not to be found in Macaulay's History of England; but learned authorities who have read the original MS. in Early Norman, make no doubt as to the correct translation.

"It is excellent," as the poet says, "to have a giant's thirst; but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant." And not only "tyrannous " but short-sighted. For the law of compensation is one of the first edicts of Nature. The same beneficent hand which provides the simple fruits of the earth for the delectation of man, furnishes also the slug and the wasp, to see that he doesn't get too much. Our friend the dog is deprived of the power of articulation, but he has a tail which can be wagged at the speed of 600 revolutions to the minute. And the man who overtaxes the powers of his inner mechanism during the hours of darkness is certain to feel the effects, to be smitten of conscience, and troubled of brain, when he awakes, a few hours later on. As this is not a medical treatise it would be out of place to analyse at length the abominable habit which the human brain and stomach have acquired, of acting and reacting on each other; suffice it to say that there is no surer sign of the weakness and helplessness of poor, frail, sinful, fallen humanity than the obstinacy with which so many of us will, for the sake of an hour or two's revelry, boldly bid for five times the amount of misery and remorse. ….

But how shall we alleviate the pangs? How make that dreadful “day after” endurable enough to cause us to offer up thanks for being still allowed to live? Come, the panacea, good doctor!

First of all, then, to avoid the chemist and his works. I mean no disrespect to my good friend Sainsbury, or his “Number One Pick-me-up,” whose corpse-reviving claims are indisputable; but at the same time the habitual swallower of drugs does not lead the happiest life. …. The next thing to avoid, the first thing in the morning, is soda-water, whether diluted with brandy or whisky. The “peg” may be all very well as an occasional potation, but, believe one who has tried most compounds, ‘tis a pretty poor “livener.” On the contrary, although a beaker of the straw-coloured (or occasionally, mahogany-coloured) fluid may seem to steady the nerves for the time being, the effect is by no means lasting.

But the same panacea will not do in every case. If the patient be sufficiently convalescent to digest a

(I do not mean a M.R.C.S.) his state must be far from hopeless. A "Doctor" is a mixture of beaten raw egg - not forgetting the white, which is of even more value than the yolk to the invalid - brandy, a little sifted sugar, and new milk. But many devotees of Bacchus could as soon swallow rum-and-oysters, in bed. And do not let us blame Bacchus unduly for the matutinal trouble. The fairy Ala has probably had a lot to do with that trouble. A "Doctor" can be made with sherry or whisky, instead of brandy; and many stockbrokers' clerks, sporting journalists, and other millionaires prefer a 
who appears in the form of a large tumbler containing a couple of eggs beaten, and filled to the brim with the wine of the champagne district. 
A Scorcher
is made with the juice of half a lemon squeezed into a large wine-glass ; add a liqueur-glassful of old brandy, or Hollands, and a dust of cayenne. Mix well, and do not allow any lemon-pips to remain in the glass. 

Brazil Relish.
This is, I am assured, a much-admired restorative in Brazil, and the regions bordering on the River Plate. It does not sound exactly the sort of stimulant to take after a "bump supper," or a "Kaffir " entertainment, but here it is: Into a wine-glass half full of curaƧoa pop the unbroken yolk of a bantam's egg. Fill the glass up with maraschino. According to my notion, a good cup of hot, strong tea would be equally effectual, as an emetic, and withal cheaper. But they certainly take the mixture as a pick-me-up in Brazil. 

The ‘Restoratives’ chapter continues with a selection of more substantial food snacks which will serve us nicely as another post.

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