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The Household Cyclopedia



When this is the flesh of a bullock of middle age' it affords good and strong nourishment, and is peculiarly well adapted to those who labor or take much exercise. It will often sit easy upon stomachs that can digest no other kind of food; and its fat is almost as easily digested as that of veal.


Is not a proper food for persons suffering from indisposition, and should not be given to febrile patients. It affords less nourishment and is less digestible than the flesh of the same animal in a state of maturity. The fat of it is lighter than that of any other animal, and shows the least disposition to putrescency. Veal is a suitable food in costive habits; but of all meat it is the least calculated for removing acidity from the stomach.


From the age of four to six years, and fed on dry pasture, is an excellent meat. It is of a middle kind between the firmness of beef and the tenderness of veal. The lean part of mutton, however, is the most nourishing and conducive to health; the fat being hard of digestion. The head of the sheep; especially when divested of the skin, is tender; and the feet, on account of the jelly they contain, are highly nutritive.


Is not so nourishing as mutton; but it is light and extremely suitable to delicate stomachs.


Affords rich and substantial nourishment, and its juices are wholesome when properly fed, and when the animal enjoys pure air and exercise. But the flesh of hogs reared in towns is both hard of digestion and unwholesome. Pork is particularly improper for those who are liable to any foulness of the skin.

Smoked Hams.

Are a strong kind of meat, and rather fit for a relish than for diet. It is the quality of all salted meat that the fibres become rigid, and therefore more difficult of digestion; and when to this is added smoking, the heat of the chimney occasions the salt to concentrate, and the fat between the muscles sometimes to become rancid.


Is also of an indigestible quality, and is apt to turn rancid on weak stomachs; but for those in health it is an excellent food, especially when used with fowl or veal, or even eaten with peas, cabbages, or cauliflowers.

Goat's Flesh

Is hard and indigestible; but that of kids is tender as well as delicious, and affords good nourishment.


Or the flesh of deer, and that of hares, is of a nourishing quality, but is liable to the inconvenience that though much disposed to putrescency of itself, it must be kept for a little time before it becomes tender.

The Blood of Animals

Is occasionally used as an aliment, but man could not long subsist upon it unless mixed with oatmeal, etc.; for it is not very soluble alone, by the digestive powers of the human stomach, and therefore cannot prove nourishing.


Is of very different consistence in different animals; but that of cows, being the kind used in diet, is at present the object of our attention. Milk, where it agrees with the stomach, affords excellent nourishment for those who are weak and cannot digest other aliments. It does not readily become putrid, but with some persons becomes sour on the stomach, and thence produces heartburn, or gripes, and in some constitutions a looseness. The best milk is from a cow at three or four years of age, about two months after producing a calf it is lighter, but more watery than the milk of sheep and goats; while on the other hand it is more thick and heavy than the milk of asses and mares, which are next in consistence to human milk.

On account of the acid which is generated after digestion, milk coagulates in all stomachs; but the gaseous or cheesy part is again dissolved by the digestive juices, and rendered fit for the purposes of nutrition. It is improper to eat acid substances with milk, as these would tend to prevent the due digestion of it.


Is very nourishing, but on account of its fatness is difficult to be digested in weak stomachs. Violent exercise after eating it will in a little time convert it into butter.


Some writers inveigh against the use of butter as universally pernicious, but they might with equal reason condemn all vegetable oils, which form considerable part of diet in southern climates, and seem to have been beneficially intended by nature for that purpose. Butter, like every other oily substance, has doubtless a relaxing quality, and if long retained in the stomach is liable to become rancid; but if eaten in moderation it will not produce those effects. It is, however, improper in bilious constitutions.


Is likewise reprobated by many as extremely un wholesome. It is doubtless not easy of digestion, and when eaten in a great quantity may overload the stomach: but if taken sparingly its tenacity may be dissolved by the digestive juices, and it may yield a wholesome, nourishing chyle. Toasted cheese is agreeable to most palates, but it is rendered more indigestible by that process.


The flesh of birds differs in quality according to the food on which they live. Such as feed upon grain and berries afford, in general, good nourishment, geese and ducks are hard of digestion, especially the former. A young hen or chicken is tender and delicate food, and extremely well adapted to those in whom the digestive powers are weak. But of all tame fowls, the capon is the most nutritious.

Turkeys, etc.

Turkeys, as well as Guinea or India fowls, afford a substantial nutriment but are not quite so easy of digestion as the common domestic fowls. In all birds those parts are the most firm which are most exercised; in the small birds, therefore, the wings, and in the larger birds the legs, are commonly the most difficult of digestion.

Wild Fowls.

The flesh of wild birds in general, though more easily digested, is less nourishing than that of quadrupeds, as being more dry on account of their almost constant exercise. Those birds are not wholesome which subsist upon worms, insects and fishes.


The eggs of birds are a simple and wholesome aliment. Those of the turkey are superior in all the qualifications of food. The white of eggs is by heat rendered tough and hard. The yolk contains much oil, and is highly nourishing, but has a strong tendency to putrefaction, on which account eggs are improper for people of weak stomachs, especially when they are not quite fresh. Eggs boiled hard or fried are difficult of digestion' and are rendered still more indigestible by the addition of butter. All eggs require a sufficient quantity of salt, to promote their solution in the stomach.


Though some of them be light and easy of digestion, afford less nourishment than the flesh of quadrupeds, and are, of all the animal tribes, the most disposed to putrefaction. Salt water fish are, in general, the best but when salted, though less disposed to putrescency, they become difficult of digestion. Whitings and flounders are the most easily digested. Acid sauces and pickles, by resisting putrefaction, are a proper addition to fish, both as they retard putrescency and correct the relaxing tendency of butter, so generally used with this kind of aliment.

Oysters and Cockles

Are eaten both raw and dressed. Oysters are very nourishing and easy of digestion.

Muscles and Periwinkles.

Are far inferior to oysters, both in point of digestion and nutriment. Sea muscles are by some supposed to be of a poisonous nature, but through this opinion is not much countenanced by experience, the safest way is to eat them with vinegar, or some other vegetable acid.


At the bead of the vegetable class stands bread, that article of diet which, from general use, has received the name of the staff of life. Wheat is the grain chiefly used for the purpose in this country, and is the most nutritive of all the farinaceous kinds, as it contains a great deal of gluten and starch. Bread is very properly eaten with animal food, but is most expedient with such articles of diet as contain much nourishment in a small bulk, because it then serves to give the stomach a proper degree of expansion. To render bread easy of digestion it ought to be well fermented and baked, and it never should be used by dyspeptics till it has stood 24 hours after being taken out of the oven, otherwise it is apt to occasion various complaints in them, such as flatulence, heartburn, wakefulness, and the like. The custom of eating butter with bread, hot from the oven, is compatible only with strong digestive powers.


Especially when hot, has all the disadvantages of hot bread and butter; and still more so when it is tough and hard, or made with rancid butter or lard. Dry toast with butter is by far the most wholesome breakfast. Brown wheaten bread, in which there is a good deal of rye or bran, though not so nourishing as that made of fine flour, is both palatable and wholesome, but apt to become sour on weak stomachs.

Oats, Barley and Rice.

Oats, when deprived of the husk, and particularly barley, when properly prepared, are somewhat softening, and afford wholesome and cooling nourishment. Rice likewise contains a nutritious mucilage, and is less used than it deserves, both on account of its wholesomeness and economical utility, The notion of its being hurtful to the sight is a vulgar error. In some constitutions it tends to induce costiveness, but this seems to be owing chiefly to flatulence, and may be corrected by the addition of some spice, such as caraways, aniseed, and the like.


Are an agreeable and wholesome food, and yield nearly as much nourishment as any of the roots used in diet. the farinaceous or mealy kind is in general the most easy of digestion, and they are much improved by being roasted or baked. They ought always to be eaten with meat, and never without salt. The salt should be boiled with them.

Green Peas and Beans.

Boiled in their fresh state, are both agreeable to the taste and wholesome, being neither so flatulent nor so difficult of digestion as in their ripe state, in which they resemble the other leguminous vegetables. French beans possess much the same qualities, but yield a more watery juice, and have greater disposition to produce flatulence.


Being eaten raw, require good digestive powers, but the addition of oil and vinegar, qualified with mustard, renders the moderate use of them consistent even with a weak stomach.


Affords a soft, lubricating aliment, but contains little nourishment. In weak stomachs it is apt to produce acidity, and frequently a looseness. To obviate these effects, it ought always to be well beaten, and have but little butter mixed with it.


Is a nourishing article in diet, and promotes the secretion of urine; but disposes a little to flatulence.


Resemble asparagus in their qualities, but seem to be more nutritive and less diuretic.


Do not afford much nourishment, but are an agreeable addition to animal food, and not quite so flatulent as the common greens. They are likewise diuretic, and somewhat laxative. Cabbage has a stronger tendency to putrefaction than most other vegetable substances; and, during its putrefying state, sends forth an offensive smell, much resembling that of putrefying animal bodies. So far, however, from promoting a putrid dosposition in the human body, it is, on the contrary, a wholesome aliment in scurvy.


When young and tender, are very digestible.

Indian Corn.

Before ripening, is wholesome for most persons when boiled upon the ear; and is very nourishing.


Are a nutritious article of vegetable food, but not very easy of digestion, and are flatulent. This effect is in a good measure obviated by pressing the water out of them before they are eaten.


Contain a considerable quantity of nutritious juice but are among the most flatulent of vegetable productions.


Are more nourishing and leas flatulent than carrots, which they also exceed in the sweetness of their mucilage. By boiling them in two different waters, they are rendered less flatulent, but their other qualities are thereby diminished in proportion.


Is of a stimulating and aromatic nature, well calculated to make agreeable sauces. It is also a gentle diuretic, but preferable in all its qualities when boiled.


Affords a root both wholesome and fragrant, but is difficult of digestion in its raw state. It gives an agreeable taste to soups, as well as renders them diuretic.

Onions, Garlic, and Shallots

Are all of a stimulating nature, by which they assist digestion and expel flatulency.. They are, however, most suitable to persons of a cold and phlegmatic constitution.


Of all kinds, particularly the horse-radish, agree with the three preceding articles. They excite the discharge of air lodged in the intestines.


Are generally considered the most wholesome of all vegetables.


Are a wholesome fruit, but, in general they agree best with the stomach when eaten either roasted or boiled. The more aromatic kinds of apples are the fittest for eating raw.


Resemble much in their effects the sweet kind of apples, but have more of a laxative qualify' end a greater tendency to flatulence.


Are in general a wholesome fruit, when perfectly fresh, but not otherwise.


Are nourishing, but are apt to produce flatulence. If eaten fresh, and before they are ripe, especially in large quantities, they occasion colics, and other complaints of the bowels.


Are of a nourishing quality, and they abound in juice; they are serviceable in bilious complaints.


Are more pulpy than peaches, but are apt to ferment, and produce acidities in weak stomachs.

Gooseberries and Currants,

When ripe, are similar in their qualities to cherries, and when used in a green state they are agreeably cooling.


Are an agreeable, cooling aliment.


Are cooling, and agreeable to the palate in hot weather; but to prevent them from proving hurtful to the stomach, the juice ought to be squeezed out after they are sliced, and vinegar, pepper and salt afterwards added.


By some, the use of this exotic is condemned in terms the most vehement and unqualified, whilst others have either asserted its innocence, or gone so far as to ascribe to it salubrious and even extraordinary, virtues. The truth seems to lie between these two extremes; there is however an essential difference in the effects of green tea And of black, or of bohea; the former of which is much more apt to affect the nerves than the latter, more especially when drunk without cream, and like wise without bread and butter. That, taken in a large quantity, or at a later hour than usual, tea often produces wakefulness, is a point that cannot be denied, but if used in moderation, and accompanied with the additions just now mentioned, it does not sensibly discover any hurtful effects, but greatly refreshes one who is fatigued, and abates a pain of the head. It ought always to be made of a moderate degree of strength; for if too weak it certainly relaxes the stomach. As it has an astringent taste, which seems not very consistent with a relaxing power, there is ground for ascribing this effect not so much to the herb itself as to the hot water, which not being impregnated with a sufficient quantity of tea, to correct its own emollient tendency, produces a relaxation, unjustly imputed to some noxious quality of the plant. But tea, like every other commodity, is liable to damage, and when this happens, it may produce effects not necessarily connected with its original qualities.


It is allowed that coffee promotes digestion, and exhilarates the animal spirits, besides which, various other qualities are ascribed to it, such as dispelling flatulency,, removing dizziness of the head, attenuating viscid humors, increasing the circulation of the blood, and consequently perspiration: with a great many persons, even if not taken strong, it affects the nerves, occasions wakefulness, and tremor of the hands; though in some phlegmatic constitutions it is apt to produce sleep. Indeed, it is to persons of that habit that cofee is best accomodated; for to people of a thin and dry habit of body it seems to be especially injurious. Turkey coffee is greatly preferable in flavor to that of the West Indies. Drunk, only in the quantity of one dish, after dinner, to promote digestion, it answers best without either sugar or milk; but if taken at other times, it should have both, or rather in place of the latter, cream' which not only improves the beverage, but tends to mitigate the effect of coffee upon the nerves.


Is a nutritive and wholesome composition, if taken in a small quantity, and not repeated too often; but is sometimes hurtful to the stomach of those with whom a vegetable diet disagrees.