Food and Flavor: A Gastronomic Guide to Health and Good Living: Chapter IV by@henryfinck

Food and Flavor: A Gastronomic Guide to Health and Good Living: Chapter IV

by Henry T. FinckAugust 30th, 2022
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DESIRABLE RAW FOODS. NOBODY wants a boiled or fried orange or grapefruit for breakfast. Other fruits, such as apples, pears, peaches, plums, cherries, grapes, and diverse berries are often cooked, in many ways; but when ripe, sound and of good stock, they usually "taste" better raw than cooked. We do not boil our melons, nuts, or radishes, nor, as a rule, our celery and green-salad leaves of various kinds, or our cucumbers. Tomatoes make an excellent stew, but they are better still sliced raw, with vinegar and oil, and best of all eaten out of hand right off the plant.

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Food and Flavor: A Gastronomic Guide to Health and Good Living, by Henry Theophilus Finck is part of the HackerNoon Books Series. You can jump to any chapter in this book here .Chapter IV : THE SCIENCE OF SAVORY COOKING



NOBODY wants a boiled or fried orange or grapefruit for breakfast. Other fruits, such as apples, pears, peaches, plums, cherries, grapes, and diverse berries are often cooked, in many ways; but when ripe, sound and of good stock, they usually "taste" better raw than cooked. We do not boil our melons, nuts, or radishes, nor, as a rule, our celery and green-salad leaves of various kinds, or our cucumbers. Tomatoes make an excellent stew, but they are better still sliced raw, with vinegar and oil, and best of all eaten out of hand right off the plant.

These things nearly everybody knows. Many, however, are not aware that the best thing about a cabbage is the core, eaten raw, and that carrots, turnips, and particularly peas, when young and tender, are far better raw than cooked. Raw carrots taste a little like celery. One of my chief delights when on a farm is to stroll about the garden and orchard, sampling the various vegetables, berries, and fruits just before breakfast.

A tolerable case might thus be made out for those faddists who preach the gospel of raw food. Like all fads, it is nevertheless foolish. Were we to accept it, we might still eat sun-dried meat, or ham, sausages, and fish thoroughly smoked, but we would hardly care to eat raw bacon, or veal, or mutton, or poultry, or beef (though a "beefsteak à la Tartare" is edible when buried under diverse "trimmings" from the delicatessen store). I should like to see a faddist eat a raw potato or beet, or a plateful of raw pumpkin, squash, or beans!

Were we to live on raw foods altogether, we might survive to tell the tale, but we should have to give up that infinite variety which is the chief spice of our diet. At the same time one of the great arts of civilization would vanish from the earth—an art which does as much to distinguish us from animals as the fine arts do—more so, in fact, for birds sing and beavers build houses, but no bird or other animal ever cooks its food.


"Cookery is an art which almost more than any other has civilized mankind," as President E. B. Tylor of the British Anthropological Association has truly said.

Before breakfast in the garden

Nor is it only an art; it is also a science—or rather, it is becoming a science. From time immemorial cooks have, by instinct or accident, often done the right thing; but in the absence of a guiding principle, scientifically formulated, they have much more frequently made a mess of it.

There are four reasons for cooking food: to sterilize it; to make it more nutritious; to make it more easily digestible; and to improve or vary its Flavor.

Cooking destroys the germs of typhoid and other diseases which may lurk in food products, and it also retards the general decomposition which may result in ptomaine poisoning.

It has long been believed that raw or semi-raw meat is more nutritious than meat which has been moderately cooked; but this is not true. It is true, on the other hand, that in the ordinary methods of cooking there is often a considerable loss of nutriment. The United States Department of Agriculture has had a number of experiments made to place this question on a scientific basis. Much remains to be done, but in the end it will doubtless be found that there is no appreciable loss if French methods are followed.

That cooking makes most foods more digestible it is needless to prove. Even fruits which taste better raw, digest more readily when cooked. A great many persons who cannot, for instance, eat apples, find them not only agreeable but easily assimilated and most beneficial to health when stewed or baked. Cereals (particularly oatmeal) and many vegetables and meats need cooking—sometimes hours of it to make them easy to masticate and digest.

The main object of cooking, however, is to preserve and develop the countless savors latent in good raw material, to combine them or to add others where the material is deficient in natural Flavor.

This is the guiding principle to the science of cookery. Strange to say, there are cook books in which the word Flavor is not to be found! The recipes given in such books may be correct, but to follow them mechanically is like playing the notes of a piano piece without knowing anything about expression marks. Flavor is the soul of food as expression is the soul of music.

Born cooks know this instinctively and act on it. But cooks can also be made. Tremendous improvement could be effected in our kitchens in a short time by attending to the elements of the Science of Savory Cooking, long since discovered, but usually ignored.

Much has been written about the wastefulness in our households. A French family, we have been told a thousand times, could live on what is thrown away in an American kitchen. True; but as long as we enjoy our present national prosperity this waste is a far less deplorable matter than the criminal way in which ignorant or careless persons habitually denature our best food materials by allowing the healthful Flavors to escape during the process of cooking.


In each of the processes of cooking, such as boiling, roasting, frying, stewing, steaming, baking, it is necessary to observe certain elementary rules which can easily be taught.

Boiling. In boiling meat, everything depends on whether the object is to keep the juices within the meat or to get them out; in other words, whether the meat is intended to be eaten, or simply used for the purpose of making a rich, flavorful bouillon or soup. If the meat is to be eaten, it is plunged at once into boiling water, which coagulates the protein on the outside and prevents the loss of the juices. The bigger the chunk, the better.

If the meat is not to be eaten, it is put into a pot of cold water and the temperature is raised gradually. In this case the richest broth is obtained if the meat is cut up into small pieces and cooked a long time.

It is almost universally believed that "soup meat" (usually beef) boiled in this way has lost most of its nutritive qualities and that these have gone into the soup. In reality, it is all a matter of Flavor. We prefer the soup to the meat boiled in it, merely because the Flavor of the meat has been transferred to the soup. The nutritive matter remains in the meat; the soup stock has very little of it—from one to five per cent. only. It is evident, therefore, as Dr. Wiley points out, that "the soup stock is valuable as a condiment and flavoring and not as a food."

The same is true of beef extract, which is simply a concentrated soup stock—thirty-four pounds of beef boiled down into one pound.

Here we have the whole philosophy of soup making and soup eating, reduced to the simplest terms. Soup contains the essence of meat Flavor, and we eat it at the beginning of a meal because this Flavor stimulates the appetite, which in turn causes the digestive juices to flow freely. The richer the soup is in Flavor, the more it stimulates the appetite. The beef extracts sold in little jars are, if made by reputable firms, among the most valuable appetizers—invaluable, in fact, in a country in which the science of making savory soup is so little understood or practised as it is in the United States.

The makers of meat extracts have laid themselves open to censure by making extravagant claims as to the nutritive properties of these extracts, instead of dwelling principally on their importance as flavorful appetizers. This, to be sure, they could hardly have been expected to do until the all-importance of Flavor in Food had been impressed on the public in a special monograph.


Except for the making of soup stock, and of extracts and beef tea, boiling of meats is not much in vogue in America. Vegetables, on the other hand, are usually boiled—and thereby hangs a melancholy tale.

Boiled they should be, but not in the careless, unscientific way generally practised in America and England, where they usually are served at table entirely denatured, that is, deprived of their Flavors.

Villainous and idiotic are the only adjectives that adequately describe this method of cooking vegetables, for their utility as food lies chiefly in these Flavors, the nutritive value of green vegetables being small.

How small it is may be seen by the analysis given in Dr. Wiley's "Foods and their Adulteration," Part VI, where he says, for example: "There is very little nourishment obtained in eating a turnip which perhaps is 95 per cent. water,—yet its palatability, its condimental character, and its general salutary effect upon digestion is such as to make it worth while to pay even a high price in proportion to its nutriment."

If the reader wants more evidence on this point he may find it in Sir Henry Thompson's valuable book, Food and Feeding. Speaking of "the entire cabbage tribe in great variety; lettuces, endives, and cresses; spinach, sea-kale, asparagus, celery, onions, artichokes, and tomato," he remarks that all these are "valuable not so much for nutritive property, which is not considerable, as for admixture with other food chiefly on account of salts which they contain, and for their appetizing aroma and Flavor."

Therefore, to boil green vegetables without the slightest attempt to preserve or develop their natural Flavors, as is almost universally done in our country, is, I repeat, villainous and idiotic.

Americans undoubtedly eat too much meat. Preaching about the injuriousness of this excess may do some good, but a much more effective way would be to cook vegetables more temptingly.

If peas and string beans are succulent and fresh, they are delicious when simply boiled in salted water. In cities they seldom are quite fresh, and, as a rule, it is well to add soup stock or butter to develop the Flavor. In any case, it is of importance that the water should be already boiling when the vegetables are put in. If this is not the case, there is a loss of valuable salts and Flavors. Some loss there must always be; that is, the water always absorbs some of these juices and Flavors; but note the difference. French cooks preserve this vegetable stock, as they do the meat stock,for diverse combinations. Our cooks pour it down the sink.

It is fortunate that the United States Government has undertaken to establish the principles of savory cooking by scientific methods, which will lead to more satisfaction and generally helpful results than the empirical, haphazard methods hitherto followed by cooks.

An interesting glimpse into the kitchen laboratories of our Government experts is given by Murray in his "Economy of Food."

"It is obvious," he says, "that the loss of nutrients will be increased by cutting the vegetables into small pieces, and by soaking them in cold water before cooking. In the case of potatoes, turnips, and similar products, the loss might be greatly diminished by cooking them whole with the skins on, but as a rule this method is not practicable.

"These conclusions are confirmed by the experiments of Snyder, Frisby, and Bryant. They found that when potatoes were peeled, cut into pieces in the usual way, and soaked in cold water before boiling about half the total nitrogen—including about a quarter of the true albuminoids—was lost. When put into cold water and cooked at once, only about a sixth of the total nitrogen—including a twelfth part of the true albuminoids—was lost. When the potatoes were put, at once, into boiling water, the loss was only about half the amount recorded in the last case; but, for some reason, this method is not suitable for some kinds of potatoes, as they 'go to smash' if so treated. The loss from potatoes boiled in their skins was quite inconsiderable, being less than one per cent. of the total nitrogen.

"In boiling carrots which had been scraped and cut into pieces, the amount of the loss was found to depend almost entirely upon the size of the pieces. Small pieces lost about 40 per cent. of the total nitrogen and 26 per cent. of the sugar. With large pieces, the loss of nitrogen was about 20 per cent. and of sugar, 15 per cent."

A number of useful hints for the practical cook are supplied by these scientific experiments.

It is needless to say that in potatoes and beets, and in dried vegetables, like beans, corn, and peas, the proportion of nutriment is greater than in the succulent greens. In the cooking of dried vegetables the preservation and development of Flavors is also of great importance, with a view especially to digestibility. Unlike the green, the dried vegetables should be cooked by putting them into cold water; and prolonged cooking is necessary in order to soften and otherwise prepare them for the alimentary canal.

Our benevolent Government a few years ago engaged one of the country's chief cooking experts, Maria Parloa, to write a brief treatise on the Preparation of Vegetables for the Table for free distribution by the Department of Agriculture as Farmers' Bulletin No. 256. Like all these documents, it is excellent; in less than fifty pages it explains the best ways of cooking potatoes, beans, peas, carrots, asparagus and two-score more of the products of the garden; and these pages are followed by others on vegetable soups, seasoning and sauces for vegetables, and salads and salad dressings.

Every cook, urban as well as rural, should have a copy of this pamphlet and mark with a red pencil the more important directions. If every cook in the country knew and practised only the following directions given in this useful document, what a transformation there would be in our dining-rooms!

"All green vegetables, roots, and tubers should be crisp and firm when put on to cook. If for any reason a vegetable has lost its firmness and crispness, it should be soaked in very cold water until it becomes plump and crisp. With new vegetables this will be only a matter of minutes, while old roots and tubers often require many hours."

"All vegetables should be thoroughly cooked, but the cooking should stop while the vegetable is still firm." "Over-cooked vegetables are inferior in flavor and often indigestible." "Badly cooked, water-soaked vegetables very generally cause digestive disturbances, which are often serious." Cabbage "is apt to be indigestible and cause flatulence when it is improperly cooked. On the other hand, it can be cooked so that it will be delicate and digestible."

Steaming is one of the best ways of cooking vegetables. It is largely practised in France and Germany, but neglected in England as it is in America. Potatoes have more of their natural Flavor when steamed than when cooked any other way. An English writer says on this point: "Steaming has the double advantage of conserving the Flavor and making the food more digestible. Its only drawback is that it takes more time, and this is probably the reason why it has somewhat fallen into disfavor in England."


As this volume is not intended to be a practical cook-book, no attempt is made to give rules for all the various processes of cooking food; nor is it necessary, for nearly every family owns a cook-book giving the required directions. What I wish to emphasize is that in all these processes the rules given by the best chefs refer directly or indirectly to the preservation and development of the food Flavors. A few brief paragraphs will suffice to prove this point.

Broiling. As one expert puts it: "The ideal to be reached in broiling steak is to sear the surface very quickly, so that the juices which contain the greater part of the flavoring of the meat shall be kept in, and then to allow the heat to penetrate to the inside until the whole mass is cooked to the taste of the family. To pass the point where the meat ceases to be puffy and juicy and becomes flat and hard is very undesirable, as the palatability is then lost. Exactly the same ideal should be kept in mind in broiling chopped meat. If this were always done, hard, compact, tasteless balls or cakes of meat would be served less often."

The three words I have italicized show that in this case, as in all others, my contention is borne out that Flavor is the guiding principle in all scientific cooking.

The use of the gridiron for a broil, or "grill," as the English call it (after the French griller), also imparts to the meat a slightly burnt taste relished by epicures.

Roasting. Why is our roast beef usually so insipid and unappetizing?

Sometimes the inferior quality of the meat is to blame, but more frequently our disappointment is due to the cook's indolence or the substitution of baking for roasting.

Real roasting is like broiling in so far as it requires exposure of the meat to an open fire. It differs from broiling in that it also calls for frequent basting, that is, taking up with a spoon the fat which flows from the meat and pouring it over the surface, thus aiding the initial searing in keeping in the juices, on which the Flavor depends.

Ordinary cooks are too lazy to baste and therefore this precious juice escapes into the pan, where it is in turn spoiled by a deluge of water and an uncooked mass of flour, the resulting liquid being a sorry substitute for real, savory gravy.

In place of roast meat most families now have to put up with baked meat. Baking in an open pan in a modern range results in the tainting of the meat with the disagreeable flavor of charred fat spattered by the cooking process against the top and the sides of the oven. The oven being unventilated, and not easily washed, the result is a permanent "oven taste" in the roast beef, mutton, veal, pork, or chicken, which is almost as exasperating to a discerning diner as the taint of cold-storage poultry.

This objectionable oven taste can be eliminated by using a double roasting pan, which also has, to a certain extent, the advantage of being self-basting. A conscientious cook, who knows the value of Flavor and of real gravy, will nevertheless look after the basting personally.

The value of gravy is far too little understood. Nothing is more appetizing in association with a good plain roast than the gravy made from its fat and some of its juices. In starting a roast it is of prime importance to expose the meat at once to a very high temperature so as to sear the surface and (as already stated) keep the juice in the meat. But before the searing process is completed, enough of the juice usually escapes to make, in combination with the fat which continues to ooze out, a delicious gravy.

The French do not add flour to gravy; if it is added, it should at least be used sparingly, and cooked five to eight minutes in the gravy.

Frying. Give a dog a bad name, etc.! Frying has been denounced as an invention of the devil, a source of countless digestive disorders. As ordinarily practised it fully deserves its evil repute. From a dietetic as well as a gastronomic point of view nothing could be more objectionable than the fried steaks, bacon, potatoes, and diverse deadly fritters daily placed on hundreds of thousands of American tables. But frying on rational principles is an entirely wholesome and most desirable branch of the science of savory cooking.

Success or failure in this branch is chiefly a matter of temperature. At the moment the meat, fish, or vegetable is put into the fat, this must be sufficiently hot to coagulate the surface so that (as in the processes of roasting or broiling) the juices with their Flavors are kept within.

If the fat is not hot enough, the food comes out soaked with grease and highly indigestible. On the other hand, care must be taken that the fat is not scorched. This point is best explained in one of the Agricultural Department's helpful publications.

"The chief reason for the bad opinion in which fried food is held by many is that it almost always means eating burnt fat. When fat is heated too high it splits up into fatty acids and glycerin, and from the glycerin is formed a substance (acrolein) which has a very irritating effect upon the mucous membrane. All will recall that the fumes of scorched fat make the eyes water. It is not surprising that such a substance, if taken into the stomach, should cause digestive disturbance. Fat in itself is very valuable food, and the objection to fried foods because they may be fat seems illogical."

The temperature required varies with the different foods and styles desired. On this point, as well as on the relative merits of the various baths to be used, sufficient information is given in cook books. The best frying baths are made of suet and veal fat, fresh butter, and pure olive oil. For the sake of economy, and variety in flavor, it is also advisable to use the drippings from fried bacon, ham, or sausage—but not from fish.

In speaking of broiled meat I referred to the slightly burnt taste which is relished by epicures—somewhat as dissonances are by music-lovers. In the case of fried and roast meats, properly browned on the surface, there is a somewhat similar but less dissonant flavor which comes from browning the meat with fat. If the browning has been done scientifically many persons (I am one of them) prefer the outside slices of roast meat to the inside.


Apart from the adventitious browned flavors just referred to there are in broiled, baked, and roast meats usually no combination flavors except such as come from the butter and salt that are added after the meat is done.

Two most important details to know are that if the salt is put on meat before it is broiled, it allows the juices to escape; but that in frying a steak (which is not a barbarism if properly done) salt added at once helps to make a delicious gravy.

In the frying of meats or of vegetables (parsnips, carrots, egg plant, oyster plant, and particularly potatoes) a desirable extra flavor can also be added by using the fat previously fried out of bacon, ham, or sausages, or the fat from a pot-roast or the soup kettle.

Endless possibilities for combination Flavors are offered by two of the cooking processes: boiling and stewing. The first of these has already been briefly considered under the head of the Philosophy of Soupmaking.

Stewing is not usually considered one of the most "high-toned" of cooking processes; yet, if scientifically done—think of a real Irish stew!—it provides dishes second to none in savoriness—dishes fit for gods, kings, and epicures. And a man might live a hundred years and have a new variety of stew every day, so great are the possible permutations and combinations of vegetables and meats.

More savory results can often be secured by stewing than by any other process of cooking. It is well-known that the "sweetest" (that is, the most highly flavored) meat is that near a bone. Moreover, the bone itself, thoroughly cooked, yields most agreeable flavors of its own. Now, in making stews, the bony parts (shoulder, neck, end-pieces of ribs) are used, and the prolonged cooking called for by this process results in extracting all the sweetness from the bones and the meat nearest them. Boiling yields similar results, but the savors pass into the liquid, leaving the meat almost flavorless, whereas in a stew the flavors enrich the gravy, the vegetables, and the meat alike, in a particularly appetizing manner.

In ordinary stewing—the method of preparing the French boeuf à la mode, or the Irish stew—the meat and the vegetables are put into water and allowed to simmer slowly.

A more elaborate method of stewing is known as braising. In this process a strong liquor of vegetables and meats is used in place of water, and it is usually advised that both the vegetables and the meat be fried in a little fat before being placed in the pot to braise.

This does not seem altogether scientific, because in a stew the object is not to keep in the juices but to get them out and combine them.

A less objectionable way, which some consider the last refinement necessary to produce a first rate braise is thus described: "Have well-fitted to the braise-pot a sunk copper or iron cover, in which some hot coals or charcoal are placed, in order to transmit downwards a scorching heat to the top of the portion which is uncovered by the liquid in the pot below. In this case it is usual to cover the portion, especially if a fowl, with a piece of white paper, which serves to shield a delicate morsel from a too fierce heat."


It is to be greatly regretted that in America, as in England, the process of making diverse savory stews is so little understood. For not only do such dishes appeal to the most fastidious epicures, but a thorough and general knowledge of correct stewing would go far toward solving the problem of providing savory food for everybody.

Too many Americans look on the ability to buy the most expensive cuts of butcher's meats as the gauge of prosperity, if not respectability. Now, the difference between these expensive cuts and the cheaper ones lies much less in their nutritive value than in their texture and flavor.

Inasmuch as I am preaching throughout this volume that the Flavor is all-important, this ought to justify the general scramble for the more expensive cuts, but it does not; for in truth these differences in Flavor and tenderness can be obliterated by skilful cooking, especially in the stew pan.

It has been well said that "the real superiority of a good cook lies not so much in the preparation of expensive or fancy dishes as in the attractive preparation of inexpensive dishes for every day and in the skilful combination of flavors."

Has not the French chef been praised a thousand times for his alleged ability to prepare a host of toothsome dishes from thistletops?

The Government at Washington, which so kindly looks after our welfare in many ways, has not overlooked this matter. In a pamphlet (to which reference has already been made,) issued as Farmers' Bulletin 391 for free distribution, and entitled "Economical Use of Meat in the Home," two of the Government's experts in nutrition, Dr. C. F. Langworthy and Caroline L. Hunt, have given forty-three pages of practical information and advice, which, if generally heeded, would not only go far toward solving the high-cost-of-food problem, but toward making us a gastronomic nation. It is a document which cannot be too highly commended to the attention of all who are interested in cooking and eating.

The object of the pamphlet is to show that the number of "tasty" dishes which a good cook can make out of the cheaper cuts of meat or meat "left over" is almost endless. Directions are given for developing the natural flavor of meat even in the cheapest cuts and for further heightening the savors by the judicious use of condiments and sauces; and these general directions are followed by a number of special recipes, for making stews with dumplings; meat pies; meat with macaroni, or beans, or eggs; meat with vinegar, casserole cookery; pounded or chopped meat, etc.

In conclusion the authors refer to the strange prejudice which some housekeepers seem to have against economizing in the ways suggested by them; upon which they comment that surely "the intelligent housekeeper should take as much pride in setting a good table at a low price as the manufacturer does in lessening the cost of production in his factory."

The trouble with most cookbooks is that they are so bulky that few have the patience to wade through them to get at the general remarks to be found here and there. This Government bulletin is so short, and yet covers so much ground, that it is likely to do a vast amount of missionary work in American kitchens.


Boycotting the butchers may be an effective way of temporarily lowering the price of meat, but to make it permanently cheaper another method must be followed: we must eat less and thus decrease the demand.

This we can do without depriving ourselves of any of the coveted pleasures of the table. We like to eat meats because we enjoy their Flavors; but it is possible and easy to enjoy these same Flavors in a way which makes our meals not only more economical but also more nutritious.

This method has long been in use, but not to such an extent as it should be. It consists in extending the flavor of meat to other material which costs less but has a higher nutritive value.

The most valuable pages of the Bulletin referred to in the last section are those exemplifying the diverse methods of thus extending the flavor of meat. The recipes are preceded by these illuminating words:

"Common household methods of extending the meat flavor through a considerable quantity of material which would otherwise be lacking in distinctive taste are to serve the meat with dumplings, generally in the dish with it, to combine the meat with crusts, as in meat pies or meat rolls, or to serve the meat on toast and biscuits. Borders of rice, hominy, or mashed potatoes are examples of the same principles applied in different ways. By serving some preparation of flour, rice, hominy, or other food rich in starch with the meat we get a dish which in itself approaches nearer to the balanced ration than meat alone and one in which the meat flavor is extended through a large amount of the material."

Dr. Wiley, in discussing this aspect of the question, goes so far as to express the conviction that "the meat eating of the future may not be regarded so much as a necessity as it has in the past, but that meats will be used more as condimental substances than as staple foods."

Meats as condiments rather than as foods! There is a revolutionary doctrine for you!—a doctrine subversive of all the beliefs and practices of the past! Yet it is a doctrine which meat-eaters may accept calmly in view of the fact that what delights them in meat is its Flavor, and that even with a minimum quantity of meat this flavor can be preserved, developed, and extended in the diverse ways hinted at in the preceding pages.

In view of this truth, meat-eaters should ponder what Dr. Wiley says in favor of our eating less meat than we do and using it as a condiment:

"In all meat, for instance, that costs twenty-five cents a pound, such as steaks, there is over one-third or a half of it which is inedible, so that the edible portion really costs double the amount. On the contrary, when a pound of flour or maize is purchased, the price of which is perhaps only one-eighth that of meat, the whole of it is edible. Thus, from the mere point of economy as well as nutrition, the superiority of cereals and other vegetable products is at once evident. On the one hand, a cereal is almost a complete food containing all the elements necessary to nutrition, and it costs only a few cents a pound. On the other hand, a steak or roast is only a partial food and it costs much more than cereals."


The vegetarians who would banish all meat from our diet must not infer from the remarks just quoted that Dr. Wiley endorses their doctrine. He is an epicure as well as a man of science, and no epicure will ever advocate exclusive vegetarianism. While conceding that man "cannot be nourished by meat alone," but that he "can live and flourish without meat," he holds that he "is an omnivorous animal both by evolution and necessarily by heredity"; and he has written much, and con amore, about the pleasures of the table provided by meats cooked in savory ways.

It is needless to dwell on the fact that most persons find meats more appetizing and digestible than any other foods, and that it would therefore be ridiculous as well as harmful to banish them from our tables.

The chief argument against vegetarianism is that it would deprive us of thousands of the delicious plain or combination Flavors which make our food appetizing and digestible; and this argument is so irrefutable, so crushing, that not another word need be wasted on the subject. The Flavor Test settles it for all time, as it does everything relating to food.


Salt has been defined humorously as that which, if not put in the soup, spoils it.

Potatoes, eggs, and many other foods are thus "spoiled" if eaten without a pinch of salt. It is, in fact, added to most cooked foods, by whatever methods prepared.

Bread requires a considerable amount of salt to make it tasty. American bakers usually put in too little, and that is not only one of the reasons why our bread is so inferior to the best European, but explains the prevalence of the habit of eating salted butter, which, as previously pointed out, is as great a gastronomic barbarism as it would be to eat salted ice cream or drink salted coffee or tea, although under the circumstances it is more pardonable than it would be if the bakers were not such bunglers.

In many countries some of the most important condiments—salt, sugar, vinegar, mustard, and pepper—are placed on the table so that every one may season his food to suit his individual taste. Yet in most cases these condiments do not give such good results when used at table as when added to the food while it is cooking.

It is well known that nothing so exasperates a French cook as to see some one (Americans and Englishmen are the chief sinners) take a salt shaker in one hand, a pepper box in the other, and sprinkle their contents over the dish he has prepared, without even trying to find out whether he had properly seasoned it in the kitchen.

Our addiction to such a habit is, of course, a lamentable confession that our cooks usually know not how to season food. It comes to us generally in such an insipid condition that we take it for granted that we must do something to make it palatable.

Apart from the table condiments just named there are many others which are usually reserved for the kitchen. Among these are allspice, bay leaf, capers, celery seed, cinnamon, cloves, curry, garlic, onions, ginger, nutmeg, sage, thyme. Also, a great variety of bottled sauces and of flavoring extracts, such as the essences of vanilla, lemon, almonds, etc.

At the risk of wearying the reader by seeming always to harp on the same string, I must call attention to the fact that, with the sole important exception of sugar, all these diverse condiments have practically no direct nutritive value but are used the world over simply because of their agreeable Flavors.

If they lose these Flavors—as they do if their volatile essences escape, or if they are adulterated (which is frequent, because so easy) the only thing to do is to throw them into the garbage pail.

Greater even than the number of spices and condiments is that of sauces. These, also, are of two kinds: some of them, like tomato, walnut, or mushroom catsups, Worcestershire sauce, pickles, and tabasco, are served at table, while another very large class of sauces is usually made fresh in the kitchen for each meal.

All of these sauces—once more it must be parroted—like the spices and condiments just discussed, are valued solely because of their Flavors—their importance to the Science of Savory Cooking.

One of the most important branches of this science relates to the proper use of sauces and condiments.

Many persons commit the gastronomic sin of pouring a bottled sauce over a plate of meat or fish without previously ascertaining whether it needs any seasoning.

Surely, among all the food Flavors, nothing is more delicious than the natural savor of fresh sole or salmon, or a juicy steak or chop just off the grill. To put any kind of sauce—be it the best in the world—on such a dish is as unpardonable as it would be to pour cologne over a bunch of fragrant violets.

It is when the fish is a trifle "tired," or the meat without much flavor of its own, as so often happens, that these commercial sauces come to the rescue. Used only on such occasions, they have their value; and they are also desirable because of the variety they supply in the combination of flavors.

The French make hardly any use of bottled sauces; theirs are domestic, made in their own kitchens, and they attach more importance to them than to anything else in culinary art.

"Sauces, by the care and labor they require, by the costly sacrifices which they necessarily involve, ought to be considered as the essential basis of good cookery," according to Dubois-Bernard. "A man is never a good cook," he adds, "if he does not possess a perfect knowledge of sauces, and if he has not made a special study of the methodical principles on which their perfection depends."

The sauces provided in Parisian restaurants and private houses are certainly delicious; yet the French often err—and that is almost their only serious gastronomic fault—in sacrificing to them the delicious natural Flavors of diverse prime meats, just as Americans and Englishmen do by pouring on their bottled sauces.

Butter has among its many virtues that of developing the natural Flavors of meats and vegetables and may therefore often be used as a sauce in plain cooking à l'Anglaise. But, except for occasional variety, other sauces should be allowed to assert themselves over the natural food flavors only when these are not of the best.


Theodore Child—an American gastronomic missionary who unfortunately died young while traveling in Persia—remarks in his book, Delicate Feasting, that while there are hundreds of cook books, many of them admirable in their way, and bought by many, few are read or used, for the reason that most of them consist of a vast number of recipes, and "a cook must be already very learned in his art in order to know how to use them with advantage."

In other words, these books fail to explain the principles of the art of cooking—the ways of preserving, developing, and combining Flavors—as I have attempted to do in this chapter.

There are exceptions, and the best of these, so far as I know, is Mary Ronald's Century Cook Book in which various methods of cooking are explained lucidly, so that those who boil, fry, broil, and so on, not only may know what to do but why to do it thus and not otherwise. The different sections, on meats, fish, vegetables, entrées, breads, desserts, etc., all have prefatory pages of most useful condensed information.

A fairly complete list of the best cook books and other treatises on gastronomic topics may be found in Ellwanger's Pleasures of the Table.

No fewer than 2,500 books and brochures, mostly French, are listed in George's Vicaire's Bibliographic Gastronomique.

Probably the best and most widely used of the French cook books are those of Urbain-Dubois. There are seven of them: Cuisine Classique, Cuisine Artistique, Grand Livre des Patissiers et des Confiseurs, Patisserie D'Aujourd'hui, Cuisine D'Aujourd'hui, Ecole des Cuisiniers, and La Cuisine de tous les Pays, which includes recipes of all the nations who know how to eat.

To another French classic, Richardin's La Cuisine Française (L'Art du Bien Manger) with its 2,000 recettes, its menus of historic as well as gastronomic interest, I shall refer in the next chapter.

The Germans and Austrians not only have books on the special ways of preparing food prevalent in different parts of the country, but books about the specialties of other countries, such as the making of marmalade in the English way, etc.

The author of Die Kunst des Essens, Emil Weissenturn, took the trouble to make lists of the still surviving cook books of various countries. Of 17 written in the fifteenth century, 10 were Latin, 1 English, while Germany, Italy and France each contributed 2. In the sixteenth century Latin was still in the lead with 42, followed by Germany with 30 and France with 21. Italy contributed 16, Spain 5, Greece 2, England 2.

In the seventeenth century France heads the list with 104 books; Germany printed 39, 31 were in Latin, 18 Italian, 10 English, 7 Dutch, 1 Portuguese, 1 Swedish. In the eighteenth century Germany comes to the fore with 96, France following with 60 and England with 34; 14 are in Latin, 11 Dutch, 5 Italian, 4 Spanish, 3 Swedish.

In the nineteenth century Germany's lead is still more remarkable—374 books as against 152 contributed by France. England makes a spurt with 118. Italy rises to 15; Sweden contributes 10, Holland 8, Poland 7, while Latin survives with 7.

Of recent English and American books that have come to me for review I liked particularly Nicolas Soyer's Standard Cookery, Marvin H. Neil's How to Cook in Casserole Dishes and Practical Cooking and Serving, by Janet McKenzie Hill, which is a complete manual of not only how to cook food, but how to select and serve it. The author is the editor of the "Boston Cooking School Magazine," and she has a great deal of interesting and valuable information to impart.

In 1911 Soyer's Paper Bag Cookery was published. In it the famous chef who originated paper bag cookery—which has many advantages provided the right kind of paper is used—explained his method. His Standard Cookery includes the substance of the smaller book while at the same time covering all the branches of cooking, with over four hundred pages of menus. Hors-d'Œuvres are here treated more fully than in any other English book, fifteen pages being given to them. No fewer than seventy pages are given to this subject in Escoffier's excellent Le Guide Culinaire.

French raffinement is shown in many of Soyer's recipes. Under "Fried Eggs," for example the average American cook will read with astonishment that they should be dealt with one at a time and that, with a wooden spoon, the yolk should be quickly covered up with the solidified portions of the white in order to keep the former soft. Imagine Bridget taking so much trouble. She might, perhaps, be induced to heed these directions in making an omelette: "Heat the pan until nearly a brown color. This will not only lend an exquisite taste to the omelette but will be found to ensure the perfect setting of the eggs." Such seeming trifles make perfection.

Casserole Cookery is quite important enough to have a book to itself; it is the cookery of the future, and Mme. Neil's monograph of 252 pages should be, like the Century Cook Book and Soyer's Standard Cookery, or Mme. Hill's book, in every kitchen.

In French restaurants more is always charged for casserole dishes than for others and they are decidedly worth it. The Flavor of food is particularly rich and appetizing when it has been cooked slowly in earthenware pots. For braising, pot roasting, and stewing, which are slow-cooking processes, the casserole is far superior to metal pans in every way.

Chafing Dish Cooking is treated in Chapter XIV of the Century Cook Book, and there are several smaller volumes specially devoted to this interesting branch of the art—dining-room cooking it might be called—one by Alice L. James.

Who has not enjoyed a welsh rarebit made in a chafing dish—or terrapin, or lobster à la Newburg, or chicken livers, or crab toast, smelts, venison, etc.?

For housekeepers of moderate means who want to know what wonders of palatable cooking can be achieved with scraps and left-overs, among other things, no guide is better than The Helping Hand Cook Book by Marion Harland and Christine Terhune Herrick. It contains menus for every breakfast, lunch and dinner from the first of January to the last of December.

While purchasers of fireless cookers are always provided with brief printed instructions, I would advise every owner of such a box to get a copy of Margaret J. Mitchell's Fireless Cook Book, which contains full directions, with recipes and menus. The question of seasoning is discussed; there are chapters on meats, vegetables, desserts, etc.; hints as to how to tell good material from bad; directions to prevent over or under cooking, etc.

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Finck, Henry Theophilus. 2021. Food and Flavor: A Gastronomic Guide to Health and Good Living). Urbana, Illinois: Project Gutenberg. Retrieved April 2022 from

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