This section is from the book "Health", by W. H. Coefield.
The viscera of animals are often eaten, for instance the kidneys, liver, part of the stomach as tripe, and the sweetbread. This is more or less a matter of taste, as, on the whole, these are not so good for general consumption as the muscular parts of animals, and they are more liable to contain parasites. .
Of game, venison is exceedingly digestible, but it is rather too rich, and is unsuitable on that account for invalids.
The flesh of wild fowl as a general rule is difficult of digestion, and the same may be said of ducks and geese, and in some instances, as in the case of wild duck, it is so difficult of digestion that we are in the habit of taking cayenne pepper with it, in order to stimulate the action of the gastric juice and enable the stomach to digest it.
Pheasants, partridges, and grouse, which are included under red meats, are very digestible. Salmon flesh, however, although nearly as nutritious as mutton or beef, is not quite so digestible.
We will now pass on to the white meats, under which are included ordinary poultry, turkeys, fish, shell-fish, etc. The flesh of the birds yielding white meat is easily digested, and, although very nutritious, the nutriment is not so concentrated as in the case of red meats.
Fish forms a light and digestible food for invalids; but there are some exceptions, for instance the flesh of cod and sturgeon is not very digestible. Fish require to be eaten very fresh, and although the practice of crimping, which is very generally carried out with certain kinds of fish, renders them more digestible and more palatable, it ought not to be done until after the fish have been killed ; sometimes they crimp them while they are alive. The flesh of fish contains generally very little fat, but some contain a considerable quantity, and in consequence are less digestible; the liver of the cod contains a great deal, and from this cod-liver oil is obtained.
The flesh of the herring, the eel, and the mackerel, contains fat in the muscular substance, and consequently the flesh of these fishes is rich and difficult of digestion.
The quality of the flesh of fish varies very much, according to the place they come from. Tou can all understand that fish which have lived in muddy water are not likely to taste as well as those that have lived in clear running streams.
Then among white meats I must mention what are called shell-fish. There are certain crustaceans we use, such as crabs, lobsters, shrimps, etc.; these are an indigestible form of food. Then we pass to molluscs which form an important article of food, especially to certain classes of the community, and the flesh of many of them is very digestible, for instance the oyster, an extremely nutritious food; and in this particular case the flesh is more readily digested when raw than when cooked, as in the latter case it becomes much tougher. Some persons suffer in one way or another after eating the flesh of some of these creatures, especially after eating mussels, which, for some unaccountable reason, take a poisonous character, and certain instances have occurred of serious illness following their consumption.
These are not by any means the only kinds of white meats that are eaten, as there are locusts, and animals higher in the scale not mentioned before because but seldom used; for instance frogs, and among the reptiles turtles and snakes, and almost all these afford extremely digestible forms of food.
There are several processes in use for the preservation of meat. The decomposition of meat occurs in the presence of air and water, and at a certain temperature, and the processes of preservation for the most part depend upon the exclusion of air and of the substances that air contains, or upon lowering the temperature, or upon drying.
Large quantities of meat are preserved by the exclusion of air. The meat we get from Australia is prepared by putting it in a certain quantity of water in tins, and then subjecting it to a temperature above the boiling point of water, and sealing up the contents while the steam is escaping. In this way air is driven out, and the meat can be preserved for a very considerable time.
Meat may be preserved by drying it, and large quantities of fish are preserved in this way.
In Siberia a mammoth was found in ice, with the flesh quite fresh and the skin on it, and it was eaten by dogs. It had been preserved in the ice of these frozen regions for probably thousands of years.
So it is quite clear that flesh can be preserved for almost any length of time by cooling it sufficiently, and now that this difficulty has been solved we shall get large quantities of meat from America and other countries, and it is to be hoped that we shall in this way gradually reduce the price of butchers' meat.
Meat may also be preserved by being kept in solutions of substances like salt. The great disadvantage of that is that the brine dissolves out a laige proportion of the nutritious substance of the meat; it becomes hardened and much less digestible than before, and when used as daily food is believed to be one of the causes of scurvy.
Then, meats have been concentrated so as to be carried about in a small form, most notably Baron Iiebig's extract of meat. This, it has been shown, does not contain the nutritious substances of the meat, and these extracts are more suitable for addition to soups as a flavouring, material. The preparation sold under the name of fluid meat, prepared by a process precisely similar to the process of digestion in the stomach, does certainly contain, in a concentrated form, a large proportion of the nutritious substances of the meat.
The attempt has been made to preserve milk by evaporating off a considerable portion of the water and adding sugar, and then sealing up in tins ; and in this way milk is preserved in Switzerland and sold here as condensed milk. It does very well for mixing with tea and coffee, and is better than most foods for children, although they do not thrive as well upon it as upon fresh milk.