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105
INTRODUCTION TO COOKERY

it is. That good, even excellent meat is to be found out of the British isles none will deny; but the average is infinitely better in these isles than anywhere on the Continent of Europe. The consequence is that we have acquired the habit of cooking meat so as to bring out the flavour and not to disguise it, while in other countries experience has taught the cook to disguise it in many a cunning way, The English practice is not invariably wise, for if there is much good meat in the market there is also much bad which would be greatly improved by disguise, and there are also inferior joints on the best animal that lend themselves ill to the national cookery.

Meat Consumed in Paris.—The question has often been asked, "Do we eat more meat than our neighbours?" Most people would answer the question in the affirmative; but comparisons made between Paris and London by Dr. Letherby seem to show that, the consumption of meat is greater in Paris than in London. His calculations showed in Paris 49 ozs. per head weekly, or 7 ozs. a day per head of the population; the London market returns give 31½ ozs. weekly, or 4½ ozs. a day. Probably the results would be different if the comparison were extended to the country and provincial towns. At any rate, London has a much larger supply of animal food in the shape of fish.

Fish in England and France.—Here, again, art is the handmaiden of nature. The sea supplies us so plentifully that we neglect or disdain fresh-water fish, upon which our neighbours expend much skill and pains in cookery. Very few English people have eaten a carp, though our lakes and ponds contain many; yet in every French cookery-book are to be found recipes showing that carp is intended to be served at dinners of some pretension. Again, the facility with which fish is sent to any part of our country makes us less dependent upon sharp and highly-flavoured sauces. Carp and other freshwater fish affecting muddy spots, should be caught alive and kept for some days in clear, running water, and fed on a little oatmeal or crumbs of bread, in order to get rid of the earthy flavour.

Vegetables in England and France.—As for vegetable cookery, in which we must confess ourselves entirely beaten, we easily find a reason in the custom of all Catholic countries to fast from meat once a week, which has necessitated the practice of serving vegetables in some way less wasteful and less objectionable than the English methods.

Fuel.—The relative cost of fuel in the two countries has also had much to do in stereotyping the national cookery. Coals have been cheap and plentiful, and have accordingly been used with profusion. It is only in recent years that we have begun to use close stoves; and only a few years ago all our cooking was done over or before the fire. Any one reading a French cookery-book will be struck by the sparing way in which the use of an oven is prescribed. In an English book it is assumed that nothing is so easy as to shut anything in the oven and